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Can Dogs Eat Flaxseed? Is Flaxseed Safe for Dogs?

Nicole Cosgrove

Flaxseeds, sometimes known as linseeds, offer a host of nutritional benefits to humans. They are packed with essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and have anti-inflammatory properties that can ease joint pain and arthritis. But are they safe for dogs? Can dogs eat flaxseeds?

The answer is a resounding yes! Flaxseeds can be a great way to improve your dog’s health, and they are inexpensive and easy to prepare. As with all new foods, however, moderation is key, and there are potential concerns with feeding flaxseed to your pooch.

In this article, we go in-depth on the health benefits of this amazing seed and look at the potential concerns that you need to be aware of. Let’s get started!

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What are flaxseeds?

Flaxseeds are nutty-flavored seeds that come from the flowering Flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Flax is one of the oldest cultivated plants, its usage dating back almost 5,000 years! The plants have been commonly used throughout history to make fabrics and linen, and the seeds have been used to make linseed oil, which is used as a nutritional supplement and a wood finishing oil. Flax fibers two to three times stronger than cotton and are naturally smooth and straight.

Flaxseeds come in two distinct varieties: brown and yellow. Both of these have similar nutritional value, although the yellow seeds are most often used for culinary purposes. Flaxseeds have grown dramatically in popularity over the last few decades due to their high nutritional value and low cost.

dog in grass_Hebi B._Pixabay
Image Credit: Hebi B., Pixabay

Benefits of flaxseeds for dogs

One of the biggest benefits for dogs in flaxseeds is the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that they contain. These are hugely beneficial for your dog’s skin and coat, can help with skin conditions, assist in alleviating allergies, help kidney function, are great for joint health, boost cognitive function, and much more. Omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, also known as alpha-linolenic acid, contribute to optimal cell function, immune function, and overall well-being. The omega fatty acid ratios are also important, as these allow your dog to reap the full health benefits.

Flaxseeds contain antioxidants called lignans. These compounds can help improve your dog’s immune function, help fight inflammation, and may even help in preventing cardiovascular disease. The seeds are also loaded with fiber, which can help aid in digestive function and serve as a great help for loose stool or diarrhea.

Do flaxseeds pose any risks?

Flaxseeds are a healthy, nutrition-packed food that is generally great for your dog’s overall health, but there are a few small concerns to be aware of. Flax poisoning is possible if your pooch ingests too much of the crushed seed or oil, but this is rare, and your dog would need to eat a very large amount to be adversely affected. As long as you are sticking to the recommended amounts, this is not something to worry about. Still, if your dog has managed to chew up your flax supplements or ingested a large number of raw seeds, keep an eye out for these symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to take your pooch to the vet immediately.

Flaxseed
Image Credit: alexdante, Pixabay

How much flax should I give my dog?

As with most foods, the amount of flax to give your dog depends on their weight. Ground flaxseed is the most common and readily available, and we recommend giving this nutritious seed to your pooch in ground form. Whole flax seeds will usually pass through your dog’s digestive system whole and negate any potential benefit, and flax oil may go rancid after time. It’s also a good idea to start small and give your dog half the recommended amount and see how they react first, just to make sure there are no adverse reactions.

For small dog breeds, around ½ teaspoon a day is ideal, and you can then increase it to a full teaspoon. Medium-sized breeds can have up to 2 teaspoons safely, and large breeds can have 1-2 tablespoons per day. We recommend mixing this powder into their food to make it more easily palatable.

Remember, these doses are basic guidelines only, and it’s ideal to visit your vet first if you have any concerns.

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Final Thoughts

Flaxseeds are perfectly safe for your dog and have potent potential health benefits, with a few potential side effects too. Besides the potent ratio of omega fatty acids, flaxseeds can also aid in digestion and immune function and help fight inflammation. In proper amounts, flaxseeds can be a great addition to your dog’s diet.


Featured Image: S-D-Brath, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.