Want to know if Flaxseed is good for dogs?
I’ll explain but it would be good to get some helpful background information on this crop.
According to this Amherst PDF presentation on Flaxseed, the crop called flax has been cultivated for at least 5,000 years with commercial operations starting from around 1750. Several sources claim that the Pharaos or ancient Egypt were big fans of the flax crop. Guess why? They used it to wrap mummies.
The crop saw a decline when the cotton gin became popular. It thrives in temperate and subtropical regions in both hemispheres and here in the US, it is mostly grown in Minnesota and in the Dakotas.
Its scientific name is Linum usitatissimum and it is part of the Linaceae family. The plant produces blue flowers and its seeds are used to make linen fabric, oil, and animal feed. You can also find flaxseed in some human foods like cereals, crackers, and granola bars.
Table of Contents
Is flaxseed the same as linseed?
No, they are not the same. Linseed is a shorter plant with numerous branches and seeds. Flaxseed (3 feet) has fewer branches than linseed (5 feet). Linseed is therefore effective for generating oil, whereas flax has been utilized to manufacture linen, rope, and nets for centuries.
Nutritionally, they are the same but the difference comes with the length of the trees.
Is flaxseed soluble or insoluble fiber?
Flaxseed is a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The 35% to 45% fiber is 1/3 soluble and 2/4 insoluble. This means that it can help with both constipation and diarrhea. The soluble fiber forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water, which can help to add bulk to the stool and slow down digestion. The insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps to add bulk to the stool and move food through the digestive system.
Insoluble fiber includes cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Soluble fiber includes mucilage, pectins, gums and some forms of cellulose.
Processing of flaxseed:
Step 1: Receiving of seed
Step 2: cleaning (shakers, screws and aspirations)- to get rid of straw, chaff and other light materials
Step 3: flaking – the process of breaking the seed coat to allow for better oil extraction
Step 4: cooking – 65 degrees celcius for 20 mins- gelatinizes the seed coat
Step 5: pressing – expelling of oil
Step 6: solvent extraction-haxane- to get the remaining oil
Step 7: winterization- to remove waxes, free fatty acids and other impurities
Step 8: interesterification- rearranging of molecules of triglycerides to get desired properties
Step 9: meal – 7 to 9% oil remaining
The processing process is shown below.
What does the dog use flaxseed for? Benefits of Flaxseed
Source of Omega-3 fatty acid:
The oil made from flaxseed is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are the so-called “good fats” that offer a range of health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels. The fatty acids found in flaxseed oil can also improve cognitive function and help prevent cancer.
The same nutrients that make flaxseed oil good for humans also make it good for dogs. In particular, the omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil can help to:
- Reduce inflammation
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Improve cognitive function
- Prevent cancer
The downside of flaxseed oil for dogs is that it can cause digestive upset. If you give your dog flaxseed oil, start with a small dose and increase gradually to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.
Source of fiber:
Flaxseed is also a good source of dietary fiber. It can also be great as a source of textile fiber and Egyptians made rope, paper, and clothes from the crop. We’re now in fiber as source of dietary fiber for dogs, though. Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plant foods that helps to add bulk to the stool and keep the digestive system regular.
Flaxseed is a soluble fiber, which means it dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance. This gel can help to slow down digestion and make sure the nutrients in food are properly absorbed. Soluble fiber can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol levels.This means that it can help to keep your dog’s digestive system regular and can also help to prevent constipation.
Flaxseed is also a good source of lignans. These are plant compounds that have both estrogenic and antioxidant properties. Lignans can help to protect against cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis.
The fiber in flaxseed can also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer. This is because fiber helps to bind cancer-causing toxins in the colon so that they can be eliminated from the body before they cause any damage.
The downside of flaxseed as a source of fiber is that it can cause gas and bloating. If you give your dog flaxseed, start with a small dose and increase gradually to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.
Boosts the immune system:
The lignans in flaxseed can also help to boost the immune system. Lignans are a type of phytonutrient that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
In particular, the lignans in flaxseed can help to reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. They can also help to reduce the severity of allergies and autoimmune diseases.
The downside of flaxseed as a source of lignans is that they can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients. If you give your dog flaxseed, make sure to give them a complete and balanced diet to avoid any nutritional deficiencies.
Is Flaxseed safe for dogs?
Flaxseed contains some compounds such as goitrogens, cyanogenic glycosides and phytoestrogens that are known to be harmful to animals including dogs. These compounds can interfere with the thyroid gland, cause breathing problems, or even disrupt the endocrine system.
Flaxseed is, however, safe as most flaxseed included in commercial pet food has gone through some form of enzymatic degradation and epimerization, and as such, these harmful compounds are mostly eliminated. This is why I explained above that they are good for dogs when fed as part of commercial balanced kibble – not as ground unprocessed seeds.
Although flaxseed is safe for most dogs, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, flaxseed contains goitrogens, which are compounds that can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. It has high concentrations of cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide when they’re metabolized. Cyanide is a poisonous compound that can cause respiratory failure and death.
As shown in the snapshot below, linseed or flaxseed has HCN concentration of over 500 mg/kg – tens of times more than other food types.
Flaxseed also contains phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that mimic the hormone estrogen. These compounds can disrupt the endocrine system and may be linked to cancer.
For these reasons, it’s important to only give your dog flaxseed in small amounts. You should also talk to your vet before giving your dog flaxseed, especially if they have any medical conditions.
Nutrients in Flaxseed
According to the USDA Profile of Flaxseed, 4 teaspoons of flaxseed which is about 30 grams has the following nutrients
- -150 kcal of energy
- -6 grams of protein
- -10 grams of lipid fat
- -8.01 grams of fiber
- -60 mg of Calcium
- -1.8 mg of Iron
- -9.9 mg of Sodium
- -0.999 grams of saturated fatty acid
Below is a snapshot from the USDA website;
Analysis of Nutrients:
150 kcal is about 15% of the daily caloric requirement for a 30 kg (66 lb) adult dog. So, it is a fairly significant amount of calories.
The 6 grams of protein represented by flaxseed is not a lot especially when we compare it to other sources of protein. For example, chicken has about 26 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Lipid or Fat:
The 10 grams of lipid fat is not a lot. In fact, it is about the same as chicken which has 11 grams of lipid fat.
The 8.01 grams of fiber is a significant amount especially when we compare it to other sources of fiber. For example, carrots have about 2.8 grams of fiber.
Forms of Flaxseed in Dog Food:
Flaxseed oil is made by pressing the seeds of the flax plant to extract the oil. The oil is then refined and bottled for use in dog food.
Flaxseed oil is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which offer a range of health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels. Flaxseed oil can also improve cognitive function and help prevent cancer. However, like flaxseed meal, flaxseed oil can cause digestive upset so it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually if you’re considering adding it to your dog’s diet.
Flaxseed meal is made by grinding the whole seeds of the flax plant. The meal can be used as a dry ingredient in dog food or it can be added to wet food.
It is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which offer a range of health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels. However, flaxseed can cause digestive upset so it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually if you’re considering adding it to your dog’s diet..
Flaxseed flour is made by grinding the whole seeds of the flax plant into a fine powder. The flour can be used as a dry ingredient in dog food or it can be added to wet food.
It is a good source of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which offer a range of health benefits like reducing inflammation and lowering cholesterol levels. However, flaxseed can cause digestive upset so it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually if you’re considering adding it to your dog’s diet.
Which is the best form of flaxseed for dogs?
The best form of flaxseed for dogs is flaxseed oil. This is because the oil contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed meal and flour are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but they are not as concentrated as the oil.
Is flaxseed good for dogs?
Overall, flaxseed is a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed can help to reduce inflammation and improve cognitive function. The lignans in flaxseed can also help to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of cancer. However, it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.
The long answer is that while flaxseed is good for dogs, there are some potential side effects that you should be aware of before adding it to your dog’s diet. For example, flaxseed contains phytoestrogens which can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. This can lead to health problems like endometriosis, uterine cancer, and breast cancer. Additionally, flaxseed can interfere with the absorption of other nutrients so it’s important to give your dog a complete and balanced diet if you’re considering adding flaxseed to their diet. Finally, as mentioned above, flaxseed can cause digestive upset so it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually to avoid any gastrointestinal issues.
Which dogs benefit from flaxseed the most?
Flaxseed in form of meal concentrate, oil, or powder supplements is good for dogs as it contains fatty acid that is essential for your dog. Flaxseed benefits the most those canines requiring a little help in the coat and skin department, as well as those furry friends needing a little extra fiber in their diet. As with anything new you introduce to your dog’s diet, start with small amounts of flaxseed until you’re sure they can tolerate it without any gastrointestinal issues. If you have any concerns, speak with your veterinarian. They will be able to best advise you on whether flaxseed is a good option for your dog.
If your dog has a health condition that would benefit from the nutrients in flaxseed, then it may be a good idea to add it to their diet. However, if your dog is healthy and does not have any specific health needs, then they may not need the extra nutrients that flaxseed provides. As with anything, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
How much flaxseed should I give my dog?
Flaxseed is usually served in teaspoons or tablespoons with one teaspoon of ground flaxseed weighing about 2 grams and one teaspoon weighing about 7 grams.
In the larger breeds weighing 60 kg or more, 2 tablespoons are recommended for puppies up to 2 months of age, thus the daily serving dose is 0.23 grams/kg body mass per day. According to this other site, you can give your dog ¼ to 1 teaspoon per day depending on their size.
How safe are these dosages?
According to Michael I Lindinger(2019) these dosages above are 5 to 10 times lower than what could be considered a safe maximum limit. He goes on to say that it is likely that all known commercial dog and cat foods or supplements containing ground flaxseed should not worry anyone.
How will a dog eat flaxseed?
Whole flaxseed is too hard for dogs to digest, so it needs to be ground up before adding it to their food. You can either buy pre-ground flaxseed or grind it yourself using a coffee grinder. It’s important to store ground flaxseed in the fridge as it can go rancid quickly.
Q: Will flaxseed help my dog’s coat?
A: Yes, flaxseed is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which can help to improve the quality of your dog’s coat.
Q: Can I give my dog flaxseed if they are pregnant or nursing?
A: It’s best to avoid giving flaxseed to pregnant or nursing dogs as it contains phytoestrogens which can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. This can lead to health problems for both the mother and the puppies.
Q: My dog has a sensitive stomach, will flaxseed upset their stomach?
A: Yes, flaxseed can cause digestive upset so it’s important to start with a small dose and increase gradually to avoid any gastrointestinal issues. If your dog does experience any digestive upset, stop giving them flaxseed and consult with your veterinarian.
Q: Is flaxseed good for all dogs?
A: No, flaxseed is not necessarily good for all dogs. Some dogs may not need the extra nutrients that flaxseed provides and it can cause digestive upset in some dogs. It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
Q: Is flaxseed good for dogs with kidney or liver disease?
A: Yes, dogs with kidney disease can benefit from omega 3 fatty acid which can help reduce the inflammation. By elevating their triglycerides, it can also help to protect their liver.
Q: What are the side effects of flaxseed in dogs?
A: Diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation are possible side effects of flaxseed in dogs. If your dog experiences any of these side effects, stop giving them flaxseed and consult with your veterinarian.
Q: Is flaxseed good for dogs with allergies?
A: Yes, flaxseed can help to reduce the symptoms of allergies in some dogs. The omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed can help to reduce inflammation and itching.
Q: How long does it take for flaxseed to help my dog?
A: It can take several weeks for the full effects of flaxseed to be seen. You may see a difference in your dog’s coat quality within a few weeks, but it can take longer for other benefits to be seen. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Q: Can I give my dog flaxseed if they are on medication?
A: It’s best to avoid giving flaxseed to dogs on medication as it can interfere with the absorption of some medications. If you’re unsure, speak with your veterinarian. They will be able to advise you on whether flaxseed is safe for your dog.
Q: Is flaxseed oil good for dogs?
A: Yes, flaxseed oil is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which is essential for a healthy coat and skin. It can also help to reduce inflammation.
Q: Is flaxseed meal good for dogs?
A: Yes, flaxseed meal is a good source of fiber and protein. It can also help to reduce inflammation.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com