What is flaxseed oil?
Flaxseed oil is pressed out of the flax seed itself. There are different methods of extraction, the most effective is ‘cold pressing’ as this method helps to retain the freshness of the oil; cold pressing involves little or no heating and so keeps the oil in its most natural and fresh state.
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 essential fatty acids need to be converted into ‘long chain’ EFA’s called EPA and DHA to be utilised effectively by the body. Long chain EFA’s can be readily found in fish oils, however, there can be a toxicity issue with fish oils which is not found in plant oils such as flaxseed oil.
Effective conversion is dependent upon the enzymes in our digestive system working efficiently which can be achieved by including adequate levels of nutrients such as vitamins B6 and B7, copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. All of our herbal formulas are in their active state and as such retain their nutritional value which assists the conversion process.
As a guide, it is suggested that a ratio of about 4-1 Omega-6 to Omega-3 is considered optimum for dogs. Flaxseed oil has 60% omega 3 and 16% omega 6 so is an ideal ratio. Many commercial dog foods contain EFAs in ratios of 20-1; ratios of 50-1 or more (often seen in foods that contain lots of corn, which contains high levels of Omega-6) will result in an Omega-3 deficiency.
It is highly recommended that all dogs fed a commercial dog food take an EFA supplement. Dogs who are fed a fresh/raw diet would also benefit as there are a lot of variants as to what your dog requires; age, genetics, health issues etc and some raw foods do not include adequate amounts of EFA’s to maintain optimal health.
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.