7 Seeds That Support Wellness in Dogs

Does your dog have skin issues? Consider adding flax seed to his diet. Is your pup’s stomach regularly upset? Hemp may help.

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Seeds may seem small and nondescript, but they’re mighty full of goodness. Many types are becoming incredibly popular, thanks to their nutritional advantages — for canines and humans alike! Here’s a look at seven select varieties, along with some super-simple serving suggestions.

1. Flax

Flax seeds are grown throughout the world; but in the northern hemisphere, the blue-flowering flax plant is mainly found in the United States and Canada. This plant produces tiny seeds that are tan or golden in color, and have a nutty flavor. Cold-pressing the seeds produces flax seed oil, which doesn’t offer the fiber found in the seed itself.

Flax seed is safe and very nutritious for dogs. Generally, though, whole seeds tend to sneak right through the digestive system — so ground flax seeds are a great alternative. To help prolong shelf life, we keep these ground seeds very cold in the fridge or freezer.

Roughly a teaspoon a day can help make your pup’s coat glossier and softer. Flax seeds also provide beneficial fiber, omega fatty acids, antioxidants, and alpha-linoleic acid. This latter compound is a plant-based form of Omega-3 that offers an anti-inflammatory effect, to help keep skin clear and joints supple. Sprinkle ground flax over food, or even bake it into homemade dog goodies! (we also recommend a good krill oil supplement for dogs, which can offer more DHA and EPA)

Also consider camelina, which is somewhat similar to flax. Its oil has a faint almond flavor and is wonderful for skin health. Plus, because the oil is high in vitamin E, it tends to keep well without going rancid.

Flax seeds by Shutterstock.
Flax seeds can be fed whole, ground, or as an oil; though the ground variety tends to provide the widest spectrum of benefits because it also includes fiber. (Flax seeds by Shutterstock)

2. Chia

If you’re a child of the ’80’s, you might recall those irksome “ch-ch-ch-Chia” Pet commercials. But fast-forward a few decades, and it turns out that chia seeds are one of the world’s most formidable power foods. Chia actually means “strength” in the Mayan language; which stands to reason, since these seeds were originally cultivated by the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs.

Traditionally, chia seeds have been used to help alleviate skin irritation and joint pain. They’re a plentiful source of protein, zinc, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, copper, and multiple B-vitamins. They’re also rich in antioxidants and alpha-linolenic acid. Plus, they balance electrolytes — so they help control stress and energy during prolonged play, agility training, or hiking.

3. Pumpkin

The Great Pumpkin, indeed. Just a single ounce of pumpkin seeds contain nearly nine grams of protein. They’re also packed with folic acid, niacin, calcium, zinc, fiber, amino acids, copper, iron, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and potassium — not to mention vitamins A, E and K.

Looking for a rich source of inflammation-soothing Omega-3? Check! Plus, your pups will also get a healthy dose of tryptophan to promote calming relaxation. And pumpkin seeds contain an amino acid called cucurbitin, which can actually help control digestive tract parasites.

Pumpkin seeds are perfectly healthy -- whether raw, toasted or mixed into yummy pup treats. (Photo courtesy Marybeth Bittel)
Pumpkin seeds are perfectly healthy — whether raw, toasted or mixed into yummy pup treats. (Photo courtesy Marybeth Bittel)

4. Sunflower

The sunflowers, or Helianthus, is a genus of plants largely native to North America. Sunflower seeds are brimming with nutrients but are also high in fat, so storing them in the refrigerator is the best way to discourage rancidity.

They’re a powerful source of phytosterols, which are thought to help reduce blood cholesterol levels, control inflammation, support heart function, and enhance immunity. They’re also an excellent source of selenium, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate, and several B-vitamins. Plus, most pups think they’re yummy!

5. Quinoa

Some people refer to quinoa as a grain (its nickname, after all, is “little rice of Peru”), but it’s really a seed that’s related to spinach and beets. It’s also considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is a fantastic source of vitamins E and B6, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, potassium, riboflavin, thiamin and niacin. It’s high in fiber and unsaturated fats; and because it’s extremely quick and easy to prepare it makes an awesome meal-topper.

Toast it in a saucepan with a touch of coconut oil for a nutty taste that drives most pups … well, nuts.

Quino by Shutterstock.
No matter how you decide to pronounce it, Quinoa is a nutritional and protein-packed wonder seed. (Quinoa by Shutterstock)

6. Sesame

Open your mind … to the benefits of sesame for your best furry friend! Sesame seeds have been cultivated since way back in prehistoric times. Originally, they were brought to the United States from Africa around the 17th century. These seeds contain compounds called sesamin and sesamolin; beneficial fibers that belong to the lignan family which have been shown to help boost vitamin E reserves, control high blood pressure, and lower cholesterol.

Sesamin has also been found to help shield the liver from oxidative damage. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper; and they also give your pup a healthy dose of magnesium, manganese, selenium, calcium, phosphorous, and beneficial fiber. Our dogs adore them toasted or plain. You can even mix them with a little olive oil and mash with a spoon to create tail-waggin’ tahini paste! Bonus: sesame oil is a great way to help heal rough, cracked paw pads.

7. Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seeds are — quite literally — the “alpha” and “omega” of super foods. They contain Omega 9 in the form of oleic acid; Omega 6 in the form of linolenic and gamma linolenic acid; and all-important Omega 3 in the form of alpha linolenic acid. They’re full of amino acids, gluten-free protein, chlorophyll, and vitamins E and C. Holistic veterinarians often suggest hemp seeds to help improve digestion, relieve joint pain and inflammation, and support cardiovascular wellness. Our vet also notes that hemp oil has a fatty acid profile closer to that of fish than any vegetable oil.

In important distinction exists between hemp seed oil vs full or broad spectrum hemp oil for dogs. The former features benefits from the Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids, while the latter features a full cannabinoid profile, and offers the benefits of CBD (cannabidiol) and terpenes found only in a full spectrum product.

Do you have special seed serving suggestions that your pups simply adore? Share your suggestions below!

Top photo: Itchy dog by Shutterstock.

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Marybeth Bittel

Marybeth lives in the Midwest with her wonderful husband, and her rescue dogs Grant and Maizy — all of them Heinz 57 mixed-breed types. A freelance writer and marketing consultant, she’s been rehabilitating severely abused rescues for over two decades. She’s currently working toward specialized certifications in animal nutrition counseling. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her family Instagram feed.

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