Safflower Oil For Dogs: Is it Safe? (Benefits & Risks Explained)

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Written by: Celestine Gomez
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As the popularity of aromatherapy continues to soar, more pet owners see the need of using various essential oils to improve the well-being of their four-legged friends. Many pet skincare products contain safflower oil blended with other essential oils to provide additional benefits.

Safflower oil is a dog-friendly essential oil and can be equally beneficial whether used topically or added to your pet’s diet. However, you should have moderation in mind since safflower contains mainly omega-6 fatty acids which must be in a balanced proportion with omega-3 fatty acids in your pooch’s body.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of less than 30:1. Striking a balance between these two fatty acids will ensure your pooch reaps the benefits of both while improving its overall health.

Like many other essential oils, safflower oil is not without its own risk. Let’s find out more about safflower oil, the safety profile, whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks, and how to mitigate the risks.

About Safflower Oil: What To Know

Dating back to ancient Egypt and Greece, safflower is thought to be one of the world’s oldest plants. This thistle-like plant belongs to the same family as sunflower, Asteraceae. Reports have shown that safflower was used as dyes to tint the ancient Egyptian textiles.

The safflower plant is now primarily grown for the production of safflower seed oil, which is used in cooking (high-oleic version), Patato salad dressings and as an essential oil in various cosmetics and pet skincare formulas.

Standard Safflower oil comprises 70 to 75% polyunsaturated linoleic acid, an important omega-6 fatty acid. While safflower oil contains very few nutrients, its vitamin E content provides a powerful antioxidant effect, beneficial for immune functions, skin health and cell membrane development.

Furthermore, a unique type of omega-6, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), is present in safflower oil. Though often overlooked, GLA is effective in fighting inflammation, increasing skin integrity and improving the metabolism of certain omega-3 fatty acids.

Is Safflower Oil Really Safe For Your Pooch?

Pure, diluted safflower oil is considered safe for dogs either when added in small amounts to their food or applied topically. From improving blood circulation, relieving anxiety to softening and soothing your dog’s skin, safflower oil holds surplus health benefits for your Fido. It can only become harmful when used in excess.

Absorbing or eating excess safflower oil can cause your pooch to have an increased level of omega-6 fatty acid. As soon as the omega-6/omega-3 balance in the body is disrupted, the pro-inflammatory action of omega-6 kicks in. This could impair immune functions potentially leading to cancer and alterations in cell structure.

Before giving your pooch safflower oil or any other essential oil, it is recommended to seek medical advice from your vet. By doing so, you can rest assured that the essential oil is safe and that the proper dosage requirement is met.

Do not use essential oil for a dog with ill health or seizures, as such can result in serious side effects. If there’s no substantial reason why your dog should need essential oils in the first place, he may just be fine without one.

Health Benefit From Safflower Oil For Your Dog

1) Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

High levels of bad cholesterol increase the risk of various heart diseases or cardiac death. However, omega-6 in safflower oil has been shown to lower the level of bad cholesterol, improving the overall health of the heart.

Also, the polyunsaturated fatty acids in safflower oil can thin the blood and prevent blood clotting, enhancing blood circulation while preventing the risk of heart problems.

2) Promotes Skin and Coat Health

Besides enhancing the skin integrity of your pet, safflower oil can function as an effective moisturizer, hydrating and softening your dog’s coat to make it smooth and shiny.

Safflower oil also consists of Vitamin E, an important component in many cosmetic products. The soothing effect of vitamin E benefits dogs with skin irritation or allergies.

Furthermore, vitamin E acts as a strong antioxidant protecting the cell membranes from oxidative damage by free radicals.

3) Enhances Visual Acuity

In humans, safflower oil has been proven to support eye vision and aid in the treatment of dry eyes but no research has been carried out to show that the same benefit can be achieved in dogs.

Practically, you don’t need to give your pooch safflower oil solely for the eye-nourishing benefits since a lot of pet foods already serve that purpose.

4) Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes

Canines of all breeds are prone to various forms of genetic health problems. Although genetics may play a role, diabetes is influenced by a lot of environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle.

A study suggests that dietary intake of omega-6 fatty acids can lower the risk of diabetes type 2 (insulin resistance). Safflower oil is mainly composed of omega-6, making it additionally valuable in preventing diabetes.

5) Strengthens The Immune System

Low immunity can open doors for a lot of opportunistic pathogens that normally should not affect your pooch. Safflower oil is effective in stimulating the immune system.

The effect of safflower oil is not limited to the immune system. Besides boosting the immune functions by increasing and mobilizing the antibodies, the antioxidant action of safflower oil can be of crucial benefit in eliminating cancer cells and preventing tumors.

6) Relieves Anxiety, Stress and Pain

Many essential oils have long been in use for relieving anxiety and stress in dogs and humans, safflower is not an exception.

Dogs that are going through the process of socialization may end up being exposed to situations that can induce anxiety and stress. Stress may also be quite common if you have a super active pooch. But either way, offering safflower oil is a great way to calm your dog and keep them happy. In addition, safflower oil can help alleviate pain in arthritic dogs or dogs with joint pain.

Read More: My Dog Ate Guacamole: What Should I Do Now?

How To Offer Safflower Oil To Your Dog

Before you take your leap of faith and use safflower oil for your dogs, you need to receive approval from your veterinarian. Remember that some dogs are allergic to certain essential oils hence great precautions should be taken in order to achieve the desired result.

For topical application, the safflower oil should be properly diluted before use. You have no idea how your pooch’s body will react to this essential oil so it’s best to expose them to a little amount first.

How you apply safflower oil to your dog’s body will depend on the purpose of the application. You can place a drop onto your hand and rub it evenly through your pooch’s body or find parts with less fur for deeper penetration. In dogs with joint pain, the application is often localized to the affected areas.

Dietary intake of safflower oil can also have the same effects as topical use. While many dog foods may already contain some essential oils, they can still be supplemented with a small amount of safflower oil.

Potential Dangers of Safflower Oil For Your Dog

1) Impaired Blood Clotting

Safflower provides a blood-thinning effect that aids in preventing heart diseases. The same effect can become harmful when safflower oil is used in excess. This can have a negative impact on the blood clotting factors and platelets.

If bleeding occurs in this situation, the formation of blood clotting is delayed and more blood is lost. Your dog is also predisposed to an increased risk of gum bleeding.

2) Inflammation

The Immune system of your pooch produces inflammation as a way to fight foreign bodies, initiate healing and repair of lost tissues. With a high proportion of omega-6 fatty acids, safflower oil can cause increased stimulation of inflammation.

If omega-6 is not balanced with anti-inflammatory omega-3, the pro-inflammatory effect of omega-6 is left unopposed leading to damage of healthy tissues.

3) Allergic reactions

Allergies are very common in dogs occurring due to exposure to various foods, drugs and essential oils and it’s something to always look out for when using safflower oil for your canine counterparts.

Ensure your vet approves any essential oil product before using them on your dog. The information available online cannot be more reliable than your vet.

With any essential oil, it’s wise to first expose your pooch to a small amount for a short time to determine if it elicits allergic reactions.

4) Obesity

According to research, it was proven that weight gain is linked to a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio. Consumption of too much safflower oil raises the level of omega-6, hence there is an increased risk of obesity and related conditions like heart disease, dysplasias, diabetes and hypertension.

Read More: Help! My Dog Has Diarrhea at Night Only

Healthy Safflower Oil For Your Dog’s Wellbeing

Pure safflower oil is not a toxic essential oil and your pooch will reap a ton of benefits from it. Safe for topical use and consumption in diets. The negative effects usually come when it’s consumed without considering the omega-3 levels.

You can achieve the best result if safflower oil is used in the safest possible way. The best way is by talking to your vet to get informed on the right methods and dosages.

In cases where your pooch is allergic to safflower oil, you can always go for alternative oils like sunflower oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or lavender oil. Always allow your vet to decide what oil is best and your pooch will be ever thankful for it.

Can Dogs Have Safflower Oil?

In regard to canine nutrition, the question often arises: “Can dogs have safflower oil?” The answer is yes, dogs can consume safflower oil as part of their diet. Safflower oil is derived from the seeds of the safflower plant and is known for its high content of healthier monounsaturated fats, such as oleic acid. These fats can provide various health benefits to dogs, including promoting a shiny coat, boosting immune function, and aiding in digestion. However, it is important to note that safflower oil should be given to dogs in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, as excessive consumption may lead to weight gain or cause digestive issues. As with any dietary addition, it is recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount and ensure the specific needs of the individual dog are being met.

Safflower Oil Side Effects

Safflower oil is a popular cooking oil derived from the safflower plant’s seeds. It is high in Omega-6 fatty acids and low in saturated fats, making it a healthier alternative to other oils. However, like any dietary supplement, safflower oil may have potential side effects that individuals should be aware of. Common safflower oil side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. In some cases, it may also lead to allergic reactions, causing symptoms like itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Moreover, due to its blood-thinning properties, safflower oil may increase the risk of bleeding in individuals taking blood-thinning medications or those with bleeding disorders. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming safflower oil, as its safety for them is unknown. It is essential for individuals to be aware of these potential safflower oil side effects and seek medical advice if they experience any adverse reactions.

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Celestine Gomez

I'm Celestine Gomez, worked for 5 years in an animal shelter in Los Angeles, California. Having noticed the inherent passion and zeal in me to care for pets, I took a step further to create a team of I and like-minded individuals to provide an informative resource in order to broaden the knowledge base of a regular pet owners.