Flaxseed has been a valued crop for thousands of years, having been cultivated since the beginning of agriculture and currently consumed globally. It’s name in Latin, Linum usitatissimum, literally means “very useful”. While ancient healing systems including Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have recognize its virtues for millennia, it’s just in the past few decades that science has discovered flaxseed’s nutritional and medicinal potentials.
High in fiber, Omega fatty acids and antioxidants, this tiny seed is a great addition to any dog’s diet, and most will enjoy its mild, nutty flavor. In addition to providing a good amount of protein, flaxseeds are abundant in healthy Omega-3 fat that supports the cardiovascular and immune systems, brain and joint function and helps keep the skin soft and the fur smooth and shiny. Unlike consumers of fish oil, dogs eating flaxseeds do not face the same threat of ingesting the environmental contaminants, including heavy metals like mercury and polychlorobiphenyls (PCBs), often found in fish.
Flaxseeds are excellent for digestion, being high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. The soluble fiber feeds healthy bacteria in the gut and keeps unhealthy bacteria and yeasts at a minimum. Soluble fiber forms a gel in the stomach to keep food there long enough for proper nutrient absorption to occur. Flax is also a source of insoluble fiber, which although indigestible, is essential for good digestion and regular elimination by helping clear the colon and eliminate toxins from the body. Because the shells of flaxseeds are composed of insoluble fiber, they must be ground up into a meal in order for dogs to receive their benefit; otherwise, they will be eliminated whole, without the nutrients being absorbed.
Dogs also benefit tremendously from the lignans found in flaxseeds, uniquely plant-based antioxidants that can delay aging, by promoting hormone balance and cellular health. While lignans are found in most plants, flaxseeds contain up to 800% more lignans than other plants. Lignans are beneficial to dogs’ heart health and offer protection from cancer and other diseases.