In my continuing series regarding natural herbs for dogs, I want to share some of the benefits of flax for our four-legged friends.
The Skinny on How Good It Actually is for Your Dog
It’s critical that you supplement your dog’s daily diet with a good oil, preferably a fish oil. Without a doubt, dogs digest animal protein much easier than plant based proteins and flaxseed is of course a plant protein.
Another important thing to remember is that flax is made up of mostly ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which is an omega 3 fatty acid.
While that might sound good, it’s not so good for your dog because his body has to work twice as hard to convert ALA to EPA and DHA in order for him to take advantage of it’s benefits, and unfortunately, this is not easy for dogs.
However, Here’s a Few Well Known Benefits of Using Flax for Dogs:
Make sure that you always use ORGANIC, COLD PRESSED flaxseed. Be sure to only use ground flax aka linseed so that your dog’s body can absorb it. The fiber contained in the outer husk can absorb large amounts of water, which allows it to swell and become a soothing gel once your dog ingests it. When using an oil, you also want to make sure that it is organic, cold pressed and unrefined.
Here’s what flax can do for your dog:
- Can help with skin & coat.
- Flaxseed Lignans are often recommended for the treatment of Cushings Disease to help restore thirst and urination regularity. Add 1-2 mg of Lignan for each pound of your dog’s body weight. See our recommended brand here > Lignans for Cushings
- Linseed (flax) is also recommended for IBS patients. Flaxseed is known as an adaptogen helping dogs with both loose stool and constipation. It should be organic and again it MUST be ground and given slowly until you reach the maximum recommended dosage. All dogs are different, so use common sense and if your dog shows signs of the stool becoming soft, back down and adjust until you see the stool remain firm and formed. See recommended dosages below.
- The Budwig Diet is popular in the treatment of cancer and includes cottage cheese and flaxseed. Flax slowed the growth of breast cancer and melanoma.
Again, a toxin free fish oil is recommended first, but if for some reason you need to use flax instead, then you should use one that is pure and offers all three major fatty acids, and remember to refrigerate it and use it within two months.
USE ONE LIKE THIS FROM EARTH SOURCE THAT CONTAINS 3, 6 & 9 FATTY ACIDS
This is definitely an herb that you want to start off slow with and increase based upon your dog’s weight. It WILL cause diarrhea if fed too much. Start slow and gradually move up. If you notice the stool is too soft, back down to a dosage that is good for your dog. If you introduce the flaxseed slowly like you should and the stool is a sloppy mess after several days, then you know that you’re giving too much. Here’s a guide, but remember, this is JUST a GUIDE. The best guide is your own dog’s stool:
Divide the following dosages into two doses giving half in the morning and half in the evening:
- Teacup dogs – 1/8 to 1/4 tsp daily
- Small dogs – 1/2 – 1 tsp daily
- Medium dogs 1-1/2 – 2 tsp daily
- Large dogs 2-1/2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon daily
- Giant dogs 1-1/2 – 2 tablespoons daily
Using ground flaxseed, oil and capsules are relatively safe, but there are some caveats:
- While some say flax can lower insulin levels, others say it improves blood sugar. Bottom line, check with your vet first if your dog is a diabetic or hypoglycemic.
- As mentioned earlier, dogs who digest whole flax seeds will likely pass the whole seeds undigested. This renders their nutritional aspects null and void, which is really just a waste. This won’t harm the dog or cause any health concerns, but it’s something to be avoided nevertheless.
- Again, dogs don’t easily convert ALA into EPA and DHA which means your dog doesn’t benefit from it, like she would if it were a fish oil.
For the interest of this article, the focus is mainly on flax seeds. These come in two assortments: brown and yellow.
They typically come with a considerable amount of nutritional properties and feature omega-3 fatty acids. They also produce flaxseed oil, sometimes known as linseed oil. This is one of the world’s most durable oils.
Flax oil is retrieved through the process of expeller processing, which efficiently squeezes the living daylights out of the flax seed to extract all the oil.
The flax seed sprouts themselves are edible, although eating too many without adequate liquid can lead to obstruction of the bowels. They have a somewhat spicy flavor and are likely not the best option to feed dogs.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford and Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen. Ellies Whole Grains.