Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Flax and Sunflower Seed for Dog?

Flax (also known as Common Flax or Linseed) is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. The New Zealand flax is unrelated. Flax is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent. It was extensively cultivated in ancient Egypt.It is an erect annual plant growing to 120 cm tall, with slender stems. The leaves are glaucous green, slender lanceolate, 2-4 cm long and 3 mm broad. The flowers are pure pale blue, 1.5-2.5 cm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a round, dry capsule 5-9 mm diameter, containing several glossy brown seeds shaped like an apple pip, 4-7 mm long.

The sunflower seed is the seed of the sunflower (Helianthus annuus). The term "sunflower seed" is actually a misnomer when applied to the seed in its pericarp (hull). Botanically speaking, it is more properly referred to as an achene. When dehulled, the edible remainder is called the sunflower kernel.

For commercial purposes, sunflower seeds are usually classified by the pattern on their husks. If the husk is solid black, the seeds are called black oil sunflower seeds. The crops may be referred to as oilseed sunflower crops. These seeds are usually pressed into sunflower oil. Additionally, these seeds are generally considered the seed of choice for bird feeders.

If the husks are striped, the seeds are called striped sunflower seeds or "stripers." Due to their lower oil content, the crops are called non-oilseed sunflower crops. Striped sunflower seeds are primarily used for food; as a result, they may also be called confectionery sunflower seeds.
Okie, after a brief definition of the flax and sunflower seed, are flax and sunflower seeds good for our pet dog?

Below is an abstract from Veterinary Dermatology book, which I have obtain from http://www.blackwell-synergy.com:

This prospective study involved supplementing 18 normal dogs with flax seed (FLX) and sunflower seed (SUN) and evaluating their effects on skin and hair coat condition scores and serum polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) concentrations. Skin and hair coat were evaluated in a double-blinded fashion using a numeric scoring system and serum PUFA concentrations were determined. Our hypothesis was that changes in serum PUFA concentrations are associated with improvements in skin and hair coat and that serum PUFA would provide an objective method for making dietary fatty acid supplement recommendations. Although a numerical improvement was found in hair coat quality in both groups, this improvement was not sustained beyond 28 days. The relative per cent of 18:3n-3 concentrations in serum phospholipids increased in the FLX treated dogs but these concentrations remained unchanged in the SUN treated dogs. Also, elevations in relative per cent of 18:2n-6 concentrations in serum phospholipids were seen in the FLX group. The ratio of serum polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acids also showed a transient increase. These increases preceded the peak skin condition score peak value by approximately 14 days. It was concluded that a 1-month supplementation with either flax seed or sunflower seed in dogs provides temporary improvement in skin and hair coat. These changes appeared to be associated with increased serum 18 carbon PUFA.


Flaxseed Meal – (Omega 3) Aids in the movement of food through the digestive tract. Flax nourishes and is soothing to the stomach and intestinal linings. This plant source of Omega-3 fatty acids helps enhance the coat’s sheen.

Sunflower Seed – (Omega 6) Known for producing a beautiful skin and coat, as well as visible sheen.

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