Are there any adverse effects related to giving my dog a supplement containing flax oil?

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Flax oil is a source of polyunsaturated (the good ones!) fatty acids, commonly used as a supplement to help soothe skin and the GI Tract and aid inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. The flax seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted by the body into Omega 3’s, the fats that help with inflammation and itchy, flaky skin and hot spots.

While there aren’t many adverse effects, you do need to know that flax seeds become rancid very quickly; therefore, if you’re putting them in your dog’s food you’ll need to immediately pick up anything that’s uneaten.

Flax oil is also sometimes referred to as linseed oil, a yellowish substance that is often used in things like oil-based paints; varnishes; linoleum; soaps, etc. While flax oil itself is not toxic to animals, some petroleum products which include the flax (or linseed) oil are, so keep them away from pets.

As with any medication, supplement or vitamin, there can be an adverse reaction with other substances; sometimes it (even if it’s only in food) can decrease the efficacy of another medication, so be sure to discuss any use thoroughly with your vet.

While flax oil is often used to help with skin and coat, and possibly return your dog’s body back to balance, there is always a potential, however slight, for an allergic reaction. Discontinue use at the first sign of an allergy.

Sometimes, especially if your dog’s condition is more severe, your vet may suggest using fish oil as opposed to flax oil. Flax oil is derived from the flax plant and the fat molecules are known as “short chain,” which means they can’t be converted quickly enough by the body. On the other hand, fish oil is derived from fish, such as salmon. These are long chain molecules which are converted very quickly.

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