If your dog's skin and coat could use improvement, flax seed oil could make a difference. These over-the-counter supplements provide omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, necessary for good skin and coat health. If your skin and hair can use improvement, you can take them as well.
Grown throughout the world, the blue-flowering flax plant in the northern hemisphere is grown primarily in the northern United States and Canada. Its tiny, brown or gold seeds have a palatable, nutty flavor. Flax seed oil results from cold-pressing the seeds. While high in fat, it does not contain the fiber found in other parts of the seed. Flax may be consumed safely by all members of the family, including the furry ones.
Ask your veterinarian about the amount of flax seed you should give to your dog. You can purchase it in liquid, capsule or ground form. Don't use whole flax seed. While it won't hurt him, it's likely to pass right through undigested. If you grind the seed yourself rather than using a stabilized ground source, grind it daily; unstabilized ground flax seeds quickly become rancid. Pour or sprinkle flax seed over your dog's food, or give the capsules as treats. If so inclined, you can bake ground flax seed into homemade dog biscuits. Yes, you can also bake ground flax seed into human treats -- just don't get the two mixed up.
Hair and Coat
Giving your dog flax seed aids in making his coat softer and shinier, with healthier skin underneath. A Texas A&M University study, published in 2001, on the effects of dietary flax seed and sunflower seed on 18 canines concluded that a one-month supplementation with either type of seed provides temporary improvement in dogs' skin and hair coat quality. Flax seed also provides fiber in your dog's diet.
In addition to the omega fatty acids, flax seed contains alpha-linoleic acid, which offers benefits to your dog's immune system. Alpha-linoleic acid also has an anti-inflammatory effect, so it might aid your dog if he shows signs of arthritis or other joint problems. Lignans in flax seed contain antioxidants. Of course, always take your dog to the vet if he appears to have mobility problems.
- Vet Info: The Benefits of Flax Seed Oil for Dogs
- Modern Dog Magazine: Ten People Foods for Dogs
- Nutro: Pet Food Ingredient and Nutrient Glossary
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of Dietary Flax Seed and Sunflower Seed Supplementation on Normal Canine Serum Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Skin and Hair Coat Condition Scores.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.