We have written about the benefits of flaxseed oil for humans, but is there any real evidence, that this oil can benefit your dog? For sure, we all want to look after our dogs, or whatever pets we may have, so I thought this was worth exploring.
My initial research is certainly inconclusive as no real scientific or medical testing has been done that would prove that flaxseed oil will help. So let's see exactly what I did manage to find out after many days of looking and researching.
There are certainly a lot of pet sites and forums where this is discussed. Many dog owners have stated that they have used this oil with great results.
These results were best seen by an improvement in the dog's coat. In particular they stated that it helped bring a good shine to coats that were particularly dry.
This was something that was repeated over and over again by many users. There is no hard evidence to support this from any trials or such, but this is what the owners of the animals actually thought. I would not dismiss this even though there is no supportive evidence.
Vets have been using this oil with horses and other animals for years.
Understanding The Benefits of Flaxseed Oil
Therefore in theory the same benefits should apply to animals. The reality is that is simply not always the case. It may sound like a simple conclusion that this would work, but the digestive system in humans and animals are simply not the same.
Animals generally and certainly dogs can not easily convert this oil into what is known as ALA. It is similar for humans and why some people would state that fish oil is better for this purpose than flaxseed. You can read about the differences here.
Flaxseed has been used in various veterinary clinics for years though to maintain a healthy skin. It seems to work well for that but would not be as good for the joints and bones as fish oil would be.
There has not been a ton of research done in this area, but from the small amount that is available, it does appear to help with the skin health of your dog.
Animals That Have Flaxseed In Their Diet
Pigs are the most common animal that has this seed in their diet. Dogs and cats are also fed this oil. The main purpose for doing this is to prevent constipation and it deals pretty well with any parasites that may get into the intestines. Those are the main reasons that flax is including in a diet. Many vets also use flax when treating horses so it is a well known product in the animal world.
The Big Question - Is it Safe?
There are no toxins contained in flaxseed oil. Therefore to all intensive purposes it is as safe a supplement as there is available.
The only type of dog this is not recommended for is a dog that already has quite an oily coat. The signs of an oily coat in the first place are primarily down to having too much fatty acid in their body. Adding flax to this would only make that situation worse.
Typically you will know a dog is suffering from too much fatty acid as their coats (the skin underneath) already suffers from large dandruff. That of course is a separate problem and not one that will be benefited by taking any form of flax.
Over the Counter Treatments
If in doubt always talk to your own vet. This oil is available in a simple seed format, in oil and also in capsules. You don't need a prescription but there is something very important to know. This oil is well known for not keeping that long. Ideally it should be stored in a fridge to prolong its life. The capsule format is better for that reason.
You do however need to be careful about giving your dog oil that has been left sitting around. It goes rancid within a few weeks and should never be used.
So hopefully you can see that no real testing or trials have been done in this area. The only evidence that exists is anecdotal and from dog owners. Most of them said rather clearly that it helped improve the overall condition of their dog's skin and coats.