Omega 3 War – Fish Oil vs. Flaxseed

One of the changes recently made at A Place For Paws was the removal of flax seed from both our Beef mixture and our Veggie mixture.  While flax seed can be a source of Omega 3’s, after conducting a bit of research on the topic, we realized that its not actually the best thing to have in our food.  This doesn’t mean that there are no benefits from flax seed – certainly there are – but that is a choice for individual customers to make on their own for their particular dogs.

Flaxseed does indeed have benefits.  It is full of Omega 3 fatty acids which is great for skin and coat problems.  It also has

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been shown to help with joints and mobility issues.  It contains a substance called lignin which is thought to have cancer fighting, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.  It is thought that with the lack of linoleic acids in our foods, flax seed, which contains plenty, can be both a preventative and a curative for cancer.  Flax has further been shown to help with nearly all bodily functions including kidneys, blood pressure and energy metabolism.  (

So with all these benefits, why on earth would we take it out?  Simple.  It DOES have these properties and can be beneficial BUT we believe that the addition of this supplement is best left to the discretion of the owner.  One of the problems with flax is that many dogs show a sensitivity to it.  Some are down right allergic.  Some owners would prefer to avoid it altogether as they don’t wish to feed any sort of grain or carbohydrate to their pup.  Further, flax is quite volatile in that when it is exposed to light, heat or air it starts to break down negating many of its beneficial effects.  This, again, makes it something that is best left to be added right before one

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feeds rather than at the time of production of the food.

Another reason behind leaving the flax seed out is that we firmly believe that fish body oil is a superior supplement.  One main reason for this is that fish body oil is completely and immediately usable to your dog.  The same isn’t true of flax seed which must be first converted for use in a dog’s body.  ALA, the base compound in omega 3 fatty acids, needs to be converted in flax seed into DHA and EPA in order for it to be efficiently used.  The same is not true for fish oil where the omega 3’s already come in the form of EPA and DHA.  This means your pet receives the full benefit without losing anything at all – its simply more usable.

Some people are nervous about using fish oil due to pollution in the world’s oceans making the presence of heavy metals possible.  While not an untrue statement, in general, the amount of contaminants is minimal – fish oil is highly regulated in all of its forms both in the United States and abroad.  If there are ANY contaminant levels they are well below the limits set by places like the FDA and therefore not a worry.  If there are any doubts, we recommend sticking with salmon oil as it is incredibly rich in omega 3’s and has the lowest amounts of contaminants across the board if indeed any at all.

While giving flax seed to your pet is absolutely fine, it is not the most efficient way to deliver the omega 3’s that your pet needs.  You may not be delivering to your pet exactly what you THINK you are delivering and because of that the end result is not going to be quite the same as giving pure fish body oil.  As a supplement to fish oil, flax seed can be fantastic – if your pet shows no sensitivities, allergies or reactions, you can give them both, the choice is up to you.  Here at A Place For Paws, we are all about choices – we leave it to YOU to decide what your individual pet needs and hope that we can provide the tools you need to make an informed decision.