Flaxseed Oil For Dogs – Benefits, Risks, Dosage, and Safety

By | February 23, 2016

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When it comes to fatty acids, we know that they are an important part of any dog’s diet. They are commonly used as nutritional supplements and are known to be successful in treating various diseases. To better understand why they are used, you should know that fatty acids are divided into Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are preferred over Omega-6 fatty acids thanks to their inflammation reducing properties, although your pet also needs a balances amount of Omega-6’s as well.

Fish oil and flaxseed oil are common supplements that provide the most important Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and DHA. However, the Omega-3’s in flaxseed oil are inactive. Fish oil contains all the active Omega-3’s. Many people claim that flaxseed oil has a higher amount of these Omega-3’s, but in reality, flaxseed oil contains higher amounts of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), another type of Omega-3 fatty acid. ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in some species of dogs, which then allows the benefits of the Omega-3’s to be absorbed in their bodies.

So while fish oil may be the first recommendation for pet owners, flaxseed oil should not be altogether discarded. Some pets have different dietary needs and sensitivities, which is something every pet owner needs to consider carefully while planning out their dog’s diet and supplement program. Under the proper dosage and administration, flaxseed oil can help improve your dog’s skin and coat, and aid them with certain diseases such as arthritis. Flaxseed oil also contains lignans which are reported to have anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-fungal benefits.

Benefits of Using Flaxseed Oil on Your Dog

Compared to fish oil, flaxseed oil may not contain as many anti-imflammatory effects, but this doesn’t mean that flaxseed oil doesn’t have its own benefits. Many will ask, why is flaxseed oil good for dogs? Many species of dogs, among other animals, are able to convert the ALA found in flaxseed oil into EPA and DHA, making it a great alternative to fish oil usage. Allow us to explain flaxseed oil’s benefits:

  • Flaxseed oil helps dogs maintain a healthy coat and skin by reducing itching and dryness.
  • Helps treat mild allergies.
  • Aids animals with arthritis, improving their mobility.
  • Can reduce propensities to intestinal parasitism.
  • Contains anti-inflammatory properties
  • Helps prevent constipation.
  • Helps in treating kidney and heart disease.
  • Capable of treating and shrinking tumors, following the Budwig Protocol.
  • Ground flax seed may even be used as a dietary source of fiber.
  • May help in regulating blood pressure and artery function.

Top Rated Flaxseed Oils (That are designed for Dogs!)

So, is flaxseed oil good for dogs?

To answer this, one must be aware of several playing factors. To properly reap the benefits of flaxseed oil, one must first recognize whether or not your dog needs it. This will be determined best according to their diet. You need to keep in mind that flaxseed oil also has high amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, so if your dog has a grain-based diet, flaxseed oil should be kept to a minimum especially since a lot of grain-based foods have high contents of Omega-6’s. Now, if your dog is sensitive to consuming fish oil, flaxseed oil could be a great alternative for your dog. If your dog has dry skin and scratches a lot, then flaxseed oil will prove to be an efficient remedy for this. Given all the other benefits that flaxseed oil provides, you must first consult your veterinarian to determine in flaxseed oil is the right supplement for your canine companion.

Dangers/Risks of Using Flaxseed Oil on Your Dog

While weighing the benefits of fish oil against the benefits of flaxseed oil, one might readily proceed to use fish oil. However, fish oil may present side effects for some dogs, making flaxseed oil the next best alternative. After reading about the content on Omega-6’s and the presence of ALA in flaxseed oil, one might immediately question if flaxseed oil is safe for dogs.

The dangers or risks of using flaxseed oil are the following:

  • May contribute to inflammation, worsening allergies or arthritis when the dog’s diet is grain-based. This is due to the presence of ALA in their diet, so unless your dog is fed a homemade diet, that does not include poultry, you should refrain from using flaxseed oil.
  • Some dogs may not may not convert ALA into the necessary EPA and DHA.
  • Flaxseed oil or ground flaxseed may become rancid very easily. Its best to keep it refrigerated or grind the whole flaxseed right before feeding it to your dog.
  • Too much flaxseed oil may cause diarrhea.
  • Seborrhea oleosa, large flakes of dandruff and an oily coat, can happen if there are high levels of fatty acids being consumed by your dog.

Make sure you also search for top quality products before supplying your dog with flaxseed oil. Read the labels and find an oil that it cold-pressed and has the least amount of preservatives. The oil must be a rich golden color, anything other than this is either not pure or has become rancid.

So, is flaxseed oil safe for dogs?

Flaxseed oil is a safe, plant-based oil that has no reports of any kind of toxicity. Its dangers and risks mostly lie in the proper usage, dosage and administration of either flaxseed oil or ground flax seeds. There are many benefits in the usage of flaxseed oil but this also greatly depends on the breed of your dog, its sensitivities, and preferences. Your dog’s diet should be balanced and beneficial, so be sure to do your research in order to provide the right supplements.

How to Use Flaxseed Oil for Your Dog

Your dog may consume and receive the beneficial properties of flaxseed in two ways: either in the liquid oil form, or through grinding whole flaxseed. Flaxseed must always be consumed orally. Flaxseed oil in liquid form and ground up form must be kept preferably in the refrigerator. Many pet owners buy the whole flax seed and grind it every time they will give it to their dog.

If your dog is able to properly metabolize flaxseed oil, then it must be consumed daily to gain all the benefits. Please keep in mind that I am not a veterinarian and that you should always consult with your veterinarian of choice before using any of the following information.

The following is a list with different recommendations:

  • According to Oilypedia, “liquid flaxseed oil can be simply poured right to dogs’ food…the dosage of flaxseed oil depends on the dogs’ weight and age. Give 1 or 2 tablespoonful to small dogs of less than twenty pounds. Larger dogs need two to three tablespoons every day.”
  • Your Old Dog states that you should start slow and increase the doses of flaxseed oil according to your dog’s weight as well. This is their dosage recommendation:
    • Under 20 lbs. – 1/4 to 1 teaspoon daily
    • 20-40 pounds – 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons daily
    • 40-60lbs -2-1/2 to 3 teaspoons daily
    • 60-80 pounds – 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons daily
    • 80-100 pounds – 2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons daily
    • 100 pounds or more – 3-1/2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup daily
  • For ground flax, Ellie’s Whole Grains recommends daily use with the following doses:
    • Weeks 1-6
      Based on weight:
      <20 lbs, 1-2 Tbsp
      20-50lbs, 2-4 Tbsp
      >50lbs, 4-6 Tbsp
    • After Week 6,or once improvement is noted, reduce amount to 1/3 or 1/2 every day.

Keep in mind that each product will vary and have different dosage instructions. Please ask your veterinarian to determine the proper dosage and method for feeding your pet flaxseed oil. You might also be interested in feeding your dog flaxseed oil to combat cancer following the Budwig Diet or the Budwig Protocol. The blog Natural Dog Health Remedies explains this best:

“It is a simple diet of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil suggested by Dr. Johanna Budwig (a German research scientist). In her life-long research on fats and proteins and how they affect our health, Dr. Budwig found that when organic flaxseed oil are combined with organic cottage cheese, which is rich in sulfur protein, the chemical reaction produced makes the oil water-soluble, making it easy to be absorbed into the cell membrane. Thus, mixing cottage cheese with flaxseed oil supplies your body with an abundant supply of lipoproteins. Dr. Budwig claimed when cancer patients followed this diet for around 3 months, the size of their cancer tumors would gradually reduce.

There are also anecdotal stories about how dog parents have successfully treated their dogs with cancer by using this diet. Since flaxseed oil and cottage cheese are healthy foods, it seems there is no harm in trying. However, a word of caution: some dogs are prone to develop pancreatitis when fed excessive amount of fats, so watch your dog carefully if you do decide to try this diet. You may want to use some herbs (e.g. dandelion or burdock) to help his pancreas.

For the Budwig Diet, here is what you need to do:

Add one tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil to half a cup of organic cottage cheese. Using a mixer or blender, blend the two ingredients well. You can feed it to your dog three times a day for at least 3 months. For old dogs, it is better to substitute cottage cheese with plain yogurt since old dogs may not be able to digest the lactose in cottage cheese.”


  • Why should I feed my dog flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil is a good alternative for dogs that are sensitive to fish oil. It is also a good remedy for certain ailments, such as arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease and even cancer, when following the Budwig Protocol. It also helps maintain a healthy coat and skin and will relieve any allergies, dry skin and itchiness your dog may have.

  • Are there any side effects to feeding my dog flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil has never been reported as toxic. The worst side effect can be diarrhea, if too much flaxseed oil is administered. The other concerns regarding flaxseed oil are related to its compatibility with your dog, your dog’s existing diet before initiation supplementation with flaxseed oil and the quality of the oil that you purchase.

A study conducted in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, concludes the following, “if your dog has no visible inflammatory issues, then using flax seed is a good alternative to fish oil, whereas if your dog does, then the authors conclude that fish oil is a better choice as dogs, like humans, favor the AA pathway in the absence of high concentrations of EPA.”

Always makes sure to double check with your veterinarian before administering any kind of supplement to your dog.

  • Can give my puppy flaxseed oil?

If your puppy shows deficiencies in Omega-3 fatty acids such as fatigue, dry and itchy skin, etc., which can be present by only feeding them a commercial brand grain-based diet, then you might want to consider supplementing their diet. Look into your options first. Fish oil might be a good remedy, but if your puppy is intolerant to it, then you may use flaxseed oil in the smallest recommended amounts.

  • Is fish oil better than flaxseed oil for my dog?

The answer to this depends on a complex array of factors. You first must determine the exact needs of your dog according to its diet. If he is fed a commercial, high-calorie, grain-based diet, then you might not want to supply your pet with too much flaxseed oil because it will result in an accumulation of Omega-6 fatty acids. Natural Dog Health Remedies states that “the optimal ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3 range between 10:1 and 5:1.” If you feed your dog a meat-based diet, then your dog might not need any kind of supplementation, or you might even use it to substitute fish oil in the case your dog is intolerant to it. Always consult your vet beforehand for the best recommendation.

  • How do I use flaxseed oil for my dog?

Flaxseed oil can only be administered orally, either in liquid form or in a grinded form. You can mix both with their food. Keep in mind to seek quality, cold-pressed, organic and vegan options. Flax seed is a type of food and will go rancid. Do not leave a mixture of flaxseed oil and dog food out for too long or it will go bad and make your dog sick. A good quality flaxseed oil will be golden in color and smell slightly nutty.

  • Will flaxseed oil help my dog’s allergies?

Most definitely! Assuming that your dog, like most pets, can properly absorb flaxseed oil, then any kind of skin problems such as itchiness, dry skin, allergies, eczema, dull and brittle hair, will improve. As always, make sure to check with your vet first!


Flaxseed oil is a plant-based and natural approach to fix many of your dog’s health problems. It’s most popularly used for treating skin and coat problems, mobility issues related to arthritis and as a cancer treatment following the Budwig diet.

There are very little concerns regarding the use of flaxseed oil and they mostly stem from compatibility with your dog’s existing diet. Most pets, even horses are able to efficiently absorb flaxseed oil, and even though fish oil might be the best option for your dog, flaxseed oil can be a great alternative if fish oil presents complications for your canine friend. It also does not carry any of the toxicity concerns related to fish-based oils.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of a dog’s diet, and whether you choose to feed your pet fish oil or flaxseed oil, make sure that you’re giving your dog top quality and the appropriate amount. Be sensitive to your pet’s response to either supplement, to determine the best option for your canine. Remember to consult your veterinarian to determine what the best option is for your furry friend. A balanced and nutritious diet will ensure a long and healthy life for your dog.

Do you give this to your dog?