Flaxseed Oil for Dogs

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Pet owners using flaxseed oil for dogs may be giving them a healthy boost, but it’s important to know all of the potential benefits and the possible side effects.

Is Flaxseed Oil Good for Dogs?

Flaxseed oil for dogs is safe, in moderate quantities, but it may not be as good as other nutrient-dense oils, such as fish oil. Seeing that both flaxseed and fish oil are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, many pet owners choose the less expensive of the two – flaxseed oil. However, flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is not an easily usable form of omega-3s for dogs. Canines must expend significant amounts of energy to convert that fatty acid into the usable forms – EPA and DHA. Thus, the anti-inflammatory capacity of flaxseed oil is notably reduced. [1]

That being said, there are some situations where flaxseed supplementation can be helpful, but be sure not to overdo it, as it can result in loose stool and a variety of other side effects. Depending on the size of your dog, the dosage will be different, ranging from no more than 1/8-1/4 teaspoon per day (very small dogs) to 1-2 tablespoons per day (very large dogs).

A small glass jar of flaxseed oil kept next to a jar of flaxseeds

Flaxseed oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Flaxseed Oil Benefits for Dogs

There are a few important benefits of flaxseed oil for dogs, such as its ability to do the following: [2]

  • Reduce inflammation and itchiness
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Boost the immune system
  • Strengthen cardiovascular health

Aside from the fatty acid content in the oil, there are also antibacterial and antiviral properties that can protect your dog from a variety of pathogens. There is a great deal of research on ways to improve the shine and health of your dog’s coat maintenance and skin, and flaxseed oil can certainly contribute to that, thanks to its antioxidants. Studies have even found that consuming this oil can lower your dog’s risk of cancer, and minimize their sensitivity to allergens by optimizing their immune system. [3] [4]

Word of Caution: Although giving this oil to your dog in moderate doses is considered safe, there are some possible side effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, and a lack of efficacy. If too much of the oil is given too quickly, your pup’s system won’t have adjusted yet, which may cause loose stool and diarrhea. Furthermore, if you give your dog whole flaxseeds sprinkled in their food, the seeds will likely pass undigested, delivering no nutrient benefits. [5]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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