Flaxseed – also referred to as flax or flax seeds – are tiny, nutty seeds rich in fiber and omega-3. Originating in the Middle East thousands of years ago, they’ve gained popularity lately as a health superfood. Sprinkling a handful of flaxseed is a nutritious and healthy addition for almost any diet.
That includes your dog’s diet.
Alongside a host of benefits proven for humans, science is also revealing the tremendous benefits of flax seeds for dogs.
To understand how deep these benefits go, we explored the latest scientific research on flaxseed for dogs and summarized it in this article.
Can dogs eat flaxseed?
Flaxseed (Linum usitatissimum) is typically found in seed form. But if you or your dog digested uncooked flax seeds whole, they would be difficult for your body to digest. That’s why you’ll often find flaxseed ground into a powder or pressed for the oil.
This powder is often added to dog supplements or directly into dog food. It is a completely safe ingredient, just the same way dogs and puppies can have carrots.
So can dogs eat flax seeds? This short answer is yes. Ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil is safe for dogs to eat and has numerous benefits for dogs.
In this article, we have summarized the top 5 benefits of flaxseed for dogs.
Benefit #1: Reduces inflammation
Sometimes a dog’s body is its own worst enemy. Chronic inflammation is a dangerous condition—deteriorating the body by maintaining a constant state of stress. Eventually, everything starts to wear down. Exhaustion sets in.
Fortunately, flaxseed may be of some benefit for dogs here.
In one study, flaxseed oil supplementation reduced the expression of inflammation-related genes in dogs. Because flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, regular supplementation can soothe certain genes responsible for producing harmful proteins [*].
After supplementation of 100 mL per kg for 21 days, greyhounds saw lower levels of two genes responsible for inflammation in white blood cells.
Flaxseed also had similar effects in rats, adding further support to flaxseed's anti-inflammatory effects for dogs, humans and other species [*].
Benefit #2: Prevents and reduces obesity
Flaxseed isn't only brimming with omega-3s; it's packed with fiber too. Indeed, flax seeds are increasingly recognised as an important source of high-quality protein and soluble fiber [*].
Including fiber in a dog's diet is often overlooked. After all, they're viewed as carnivores and technically receive no direct nutrition from fiber alone.
However, diets rich in protein and fiber have been shown to trigger weight loss in obese dogs. A 2010 study comparing high-protein, high-fiber diets with a lower fiber diet found 11.8% greater weight loss in the high-fiber group [*].
That suggest flaxseed for dogs can lead to a longer, healthier life given that obesity is linked to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, liver disease and more.
Benefit #3: Increases microbiome diversity
The fiber in flaxseed won’t just trigger weight loss; it has other prebiotic benefits too. Before we begin—many confuse probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria consumed as a dietary supplement, whereas prebiotics are simply fiber—and they are food for gut bacteria including probiotics.
While your dog doesn't digest fiber, that doesn't mean it has no benefit. Quite the contrary. Prebiotic fiber is needed to keep your dog's gut bacteria healthy. The healthy bacteria in your dog's microbiome digests fiber and converts it into short chain fatty acids.
Prebiotics are completely safe. In fact, studies show prebiotic fiber produces beneficial changes in the gut microbiome—the community of bacteria living in your dog’s stomach [*].
The prebiotic fiber in flaxseed promotes microbiome diversity. This in turn increases your dog's metabolism, protects against disease, bolsters the immune system and is associated with improved lifespan [*]. It may even be the underlying mechanism for weight loss [*].
Meanwhile, a disrupted microbiome may contribute to an overactive immune system and inflammation. That’s not only uncomfortable for your four-legged friend; it can even shorten their life.
Benefit #4: Improves skin and coat condition
A key trait of health and longevity in dogs is seen through their skin and coat. Like humans, the quality and shine of their skin is a critical indicator of underlying health problems.
Dogs with poor coats may struggle from poor nutrition, infection or a chronic illness. Beyond the symptom itself, poor skin can lead to infections which in turn can develop into harmful chronic inflammation.
A healthier coat is just one of the benefits of flaxseed for dogs. Researchers compared flaxseed to sunflower seeds in a study published in Veterinary Dermatology. After 28 days, the flaxseed group saw substantial improvements in their skin and coat condition [*].
No such benefits were seen for sunflower seeds.
Benefit #5: Greater heart health
Flaxseed is packed with nutrient-dense beneficial compounds including lignans. Lignans have antioxidant effects and prevent platelet activation, which clog blood vessels during a heart attack.
In one surprising study, dogs who were administered flaxseed oil saw improved outcomes during endotoxaemic shock—a condition linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes [*].
Moreover, high levels of omega-3s will also substantially improve heart health [*]. It’s an incredible benefit of flaxseed for dogs.
Rich in protein, omega-3s and fiber, flaxseed is an excellent source of nutrition for dogs. Included in a dog's diet, it's capable of soothing inflammation, bolstering gut health and promoting a longer life.
It's also packed with important vitamins and minerals such as copper, magnesium, phosphorus and thiamine. For our four-legged friends, few foods pack such a healthy punch.
Nor are there any dietary downsides. That’s why we recommend including flaxseed in your dog’s diet daily. As a regular source of omega-3 and fiber, there’s no need to restrict flaxseed.
If you'd like to include it in your dog's daily diet, here's a dog food with flaxseed we recommend. With so many benefits and no downsides, flaxseed is a superfood that we believe should be included in every dog's diet.Discuss on Twitter View Discussions