Effects of dietary flax seed and sunflower seed supplementation on normal canine serum polyunsaturated fatty acids and skin and hair coat condition scores

Vet Dermatol. 2001 Apr;12(2):111-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3164.2001.00234.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed
  • Animals
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dog Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dogs
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / blood*
  • Female
  • Flax*
  • Helianthus*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pruritus / prevention & control
  • Pruritus / veterinary*
  • Seeds
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated