Flaxseeds are a great natural supplement for dogs, and offers many health benefits for both us and our pets. This powerhouse food dates way back to the ancient Egyptians where they cultivated it extensively.
Just how good is flaxseed for dogs? Flaxseeds are rich in soluble and insoluble fibers, which are essential for the optimal functioning of the digestive system. It contains lots of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, proteins, and essential amino acids, which keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny and their immune system in great shape.
Giving your dog flaxseed also helps to prevent certain types of cancer and diabetes.
While flaxseed is healthy for your dog, there are some things you should know first before giving your dog flaxseed, which I’ll cover in this article.
How Much Flaxseed Should I Give My Dog?
When you start giving your dog flaxseeds, you should always start with a small amount until their digestive system gets used to it. It’s essential that fresh flax seeds need to be ground before being consumed.
This will allow the digestive system to utilize all the nutrients from the seeds, while the non-ground flax seeds will be completely unused and undigested and pass through. Although you can already buy ground seeds, they tend to oxidize quicker, and do not have such a high-quality composition.
Please note that if your dog is hypoglycemic or diabetic, then it’s best to check with your vet before giving your dog flaxseed. Generally, a rule of thumb for dosage is going to be based on your dog’s weight.
- Small Dogs – 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day
- Medium Dogs – 1 1/2 teaspoons to 2 teaspoons per day
- Large Dogs – 2 1/2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon per day
- Giant Dogs – 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per day
Benefits of Flaxseed for Dogs
Aside from being high in potent antioxidants, flaxseeds are a superfood that has multiple health benefits for your canine friend. Flaxseed has been used for centuries and is one of the oldest plants known to man. Giving your dog flaxseed offers incredible health benefits such as:
- Helps prevent dry skin and dandruff
- Great for dogs with digestive problems
- Improves adrenal issues
- Boosts kidney function
- Amazing immune system support
- Helps alleviate arthritis and joint conditions like hip dysplasia.
Can Flaxseed Help A Dog With Cancer?
Absolutely! Flaxseed can help a dog with cancer. But before you start looking at flaxseed as a miracle cure for your dog’s illness, remember I said it can help against cancer, not cure it. So far, the cancers it can help against are the melanoma and mammary cancers.
While it might assist against other cancers, more research needs to be conducted.
So how does flaxseed help? Well, it’s not the omega that does the hard work, but the seed itself. Containing a special chemical called secoisolariciresinol, when the seed is grounded down and then digested, your dog’s cells go hard to work breaking it down into workable material, specially eterolactone and enterodiol.
These two chemicals can play a very important part against melanoma and mammary cancers, but I must stress again that flaxseeds aren’t a cure either. And if your dog has cancer, you need to always consult your vet before making any drastic changes to your dog’s lifestyle and diet.
This being said, given how healthy flaxseed is, it’s not a bad idea to try it out either way.
Can Flaxseed Be Bad For My Dog?
While flaxseed is a great source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, too much flaxseed can cause poisoning. Remember that dogs are still carnivores and need plenty of meat in their diet. A diet based heavily on plant proteins will not only upset your dog’s stomach but can easily lead to other medical conditions.
Lastly, flaxseed does contain very small amounts of cyanide. This might make you swear off flaxseed for yourself and your dog, but you’d be surprised with how many common foods around your house contain cyanide.
Almonds and apples, for example, have cyanide and we eat those every day! Unless your dog has eaten several bags worth of raw flaxseed, cyanide poisoning isn’t something you’d need to concern yourself with.
Symptoms and Treatment of Flaxseed Poisoning
Flaxseed poisoning is simply your dog eating too much flaxseed. You should note here that flaxseed by itself isn’t poisonous. If it was, you wouldn’t be giving it to your dog in the first place! Because flaxseed is very rich in omega 3 and 6, as well as other essential nutrients, too much can easily overload your dog’s system which can make them sick.
What symptoms should you look out for? Here’s a list:
- Trouble walking
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
Normally your dog is going to throw up or have diarrhea if they had too much flaxseed. Flaxseed poisoning itself tends to never be fatal, and normally works itself out within a day or two. This being said, you should still contact your vet right away and see what they recommend you to do.
While not life-threatening on its own, if your dog has other medical issues a case of flaxseed poisoning might make those issues worse.
This being said, how much flaxseed is too much? It very much depends on the weight and size of your dog but I recommend about two teaspoons per day for a medium-sized dog. You can however contact your vet and see what they recommend as part of a daily allowance.
While cyanide is present in raw flaxseed, your dog would have had to eaten bags-worth of flaxseed to be at risk of cyanide poisoning. If this did happen contact your vet right away for an emergency visit.
Flaxseed is a wonderful super-food that carries a lot of benefits for any dog and with minimal risks. While it’s true there is too much of a good thing, but only presenting just the right amount of flaxseed will ensure that your dog has a great supplemental source of nutrition.
While it’s wrong to call flaxseed a food that can do or cure anything, it’s certainly one that’ll go a long way in keeping your pooch happy and healthy for years to come!