What is flaxseed oil?
Flaxseed oil is classed as a ‘good fat’ and is a rich natural and balanced source of omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids (EFA’s). EFA’s are crucial in order for the body to perform key biological functions. Animals (humans and dogs!) are unable to produce EFA’s ourselves so it is vital to add these beneficial fats to our diet to maintain overall good health of the heart, digestive and reproductive system. EFA’s also support healthy skin, mobility & circulation and help to balance metabolism and reduce inflammation.
Flaxseed oil consists of ‘short chain’ EFA’s; ALA (Alpha Linolenic Acid - Omega 3) and LA (Linoleic Acid - Omega 6). These types of EFA’s are different to fish oils which consist of ‘long chain’ EFA’s and contain readily available sources of EPA and DHA. Both Omega 3 & 6 in the form of ALA and LA are essential for dogs to sustain good health. Dogs that don’t get enough LA can develop a number health problems like poor skin and coat, abnormal growth in young animals, and weakened immune systems. The balance of ALA and LA is also important as are the nutrients vitamin B6, B7, copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron to aid effective absorption.
As a guide, a ratio of 4 parts Omega 3 to 1 part Omega 6 is the recommended ratio for effective absorption and optimal health benefits. Our flaxseed oil has 60% Omega 3 and 16% Omega 6 so is almost a perfect ratio.
When oils are added to dried dog food in the manufacturing process they become oxidised due to being heated and thus provide no nutritional value. Oils that are added to home cooked foods have the same fate as do any manufactured complete foods that are prepared and then frozen as they lose their EFA’s through the thawing process because they have been subject to light and air. Therefore, oils need to be taken in the 'raw' state in order for them to be beneficial to health.
More information on the importance of EFA's
EFAs are fat carried nutrients that every mammal needs to maintain healthy function and structure of smooth muscle organs (heart, reproductive system), to protect and build liver cells and to maintain healthy skin, coat and build strong joint tissues. They have also been linked to retinal development and are responsible for the synthesis and modulation of prostaglandins - chemicals that serve as mediators of various psychological processes in the body. Prostaglandins act upon smooth muscle contractions of the heart and digestive tract, the initiation and regulation of inflammatory responses and inhibit excessive clotting of the blood.
This means that if your dog doesn’t receive sufficient amounts of EFAs, critical body functions can be severely disrupted. Your dog can develop chronic skin and coat disorders, digestive problems, cardiovascular disease, degenerative eye disease and allergies. Even dogs not showing any signs of disease will usually show dramatic benefits of an EFA enriched diet very quickly. A shinier, softer coat, less shedding, healthier skin, fewer fleas and better tolerance to allergens. With this in mind, it is easier to understand that EFA’s shouldn’t be regarded as a supplement but as a necessity.
Flaxseed oil on it's own can oxidise and go rancid quite quickly. However, because we add between 20-25% of fresh herbal tinctures to the oil, it is stabilised to maintain its freshness. This is certified by an independent DEFRA approved laboratory.Flaxseed oil contains little or no lignans which are present in the flaxseed itself. Lignans contain phytoestrogens which are hormones and although flaxseed oil contains very few of these hormones, it is not recommended that pregnant or nursing dogs take any flaxseed oil supplement.
For more information on the nutritional content of our flax oil click here.