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Benefits of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Oil for Dogs

Hemp is considered a superfood, meaning that is packed full of awesome nutrition that benefits not only humans, but our canine companions as well. In this post, I want to dive into the benefits of hemp seeds and hemp oil for dogs and how to boost the nutritional content of your dog’s food by adding hemp.

benefits of hemp seeds and hemp oil for dogs

What is Hemp?

Hemp is one of the oldest domesticated crops known to man, with evidence showing that it has been used for thousands of years in the textile industry, including to make paper, rope, canvas and clothing. According to the Columbia History of the World, a piece of hemp fabric serves as the earliest relic of the textile industry, dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.(1) Since hemp has been discovered as a superfood, it has become popular as a dietary ingredient, including as hemp seeds, hemp oil, hemp protein powder and even hemp milk. In fact, the dietary uses for hemp seem to be continually expanding. And the good news is that hemp not only benefits humans, but it’s also a superfood for our canine companions.

If you are put off by dietary hemp because it comes from the cannabis plant, which is famous as marijuana, don’t worry. There are many different varieties of cannabis. Dietary hemp sold at your health food store is known as “industrial hemp” and is a non-psychoactive (less than 1% THC) variety of Cannabis sativa L. So although hemp and marijuana do come from the same cannabis species, they are genetically different.(1)

Top Benefits of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Oil for Dogs

I am a firm believer in this superfood and here’s why.

  1. Excellent Source of Linoleic Acid: Hemp seeds contains high levels of the essential omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid (LA), which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).(2) Linoleic Acid is the most important omega-6 fatty acid for dogs because it is used to produce other omega-6 fatty acids. And, since dog’s can’t make it in their bodies, it must come from the diet. Linoleic acid is also especially important for the health of a dog’s skin and coat, as it allows the skin to become permeable to water. If your dog suffers from a dry or brittle coat, adding some hemp oil to their diet may solve the problem.
  2. Highly Digestible: The nutrition in hemp is highly available without crushing, soaking or cooking the seeds.(2) This is good news for dogs, especially those with digestive issues who already have a difficult enough time extracting and digesting nutrients from their diet.
  3. Provides a Protein Punch: Hemp is higher in protein than any other plant-based source, except for soy. However, hemp is a far better choice than soy, given the massive problems of giving soy to dogs, including food intolerances and the fact that soy is an endocrine disruptor that is also typically genetically modified and contains high levels of dangerous Roundup herbicide (unless using organic soy). Hemp contains 33g of protein per 100 grams of seeds.(2)
  4. Chock Full of Nutrients: Hemp contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, vitamin E, B vitamins (including folate) and a variety of antioxidants. Hemp is also the only known plant food source to provide vitamin D3.(2)
  5. Excellent source of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA): GLA is credited with preventing inflammation and benefiting conditions such as arthritis.(2)
  6. Helps Cleanse the Gut: Hemp provides beneficial fiber that can help remove toxins from the GI system and regulate the digestive process.(2)
  7. Helps the Heart: Studies conducted on both animals and humans have found that hemp seeds can help promote a healthy cardiovascular system due to their plant-based fiber content, protein, and healthy fat content.(3)

How to Add Hemp to Your Dog’s Diet

Here are some “Do’s and Don’ts” for adding hemp to your dog’s diet:

  • DO use hemp seed or hemp oil with ruminant (meat-based) recipes: I learned this one a long time ago from master formulator Steve Brown. Steve points out that since meat is high in saturated fats and low in PUFAs, hemp perfectly balances out the fats in meat-based recipes.
  • DON’T add hemp to poultry recipes: Poultry contains high levels of PUFAs and adding more hemp oil could provide an excess of omega-6 fatty acids, throwing off the important balance between omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. (note: flax seeds and flax oil balance poultry-based recipes quite well).
  • DON’T heat hemp oil: Since hemp oil is a polyunsaturated fat, it is not heat stable. This means that the oil could oxidize during cooking, which is a dangerous scenario. So, when adding hemp oil, be sure to do so once your dog’s food has been removed from the heat and has cooled down.

Amount of Hemp Oil to Add to Your Dog’s Diet

In his awesome book, Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, Steve Brown recommends adding 1 tsp (4 grams) of hempseed oil or two tsp of ground hempseed for every 1 – 1 1/4 pound of 90% – 93% lean meats.

Try adding some hemp seeds or hemp oil to your dog’s diet and see what it can do for their health. It may be just what they need to support a healthy skin and coat and help reduce certain inflammatory conditions.

As always, I hope that this article on the benefits of hemp seeds and hemp oil for dogs helps you and your canine companion to enjoy many healthy, happy years together.

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  1. Bonnie Taylor says:

    Should I add the oil to my dogs cooked beef and salmon (kibble) diet? Thank you!

    • Hi Bonnie!
      I wouldn’t add it to kibble as the kibble will already have enough linoleic acid in it and then you will be adding too much omega-6 fatty acids. For kibble, I would add fish oil to add OMEGA-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) because commercial foods typically provide too much omega-6 and too little omega-3.

  2. Joanna Kosloff says:

    I am very happy with the hemp oil that I add to my Irish setter, Dylan’s home cooked diet. He has great coat, even though he has environmental allergies, so the hemp must be helping, Thanks, Diana for the great diet!

  3. Fatima Belling says:

    Dear Dr. Diana, this is a very interesting article as usual.

    My dogs’ meals are mostly composed of:
    – chicken and turkey
    – cow meat
    – giblets
    – sardines (fresh and canned in olive oil)
    – mackerel (fresh)

    Can I only add hemp oil/seeds to the meals with the cow meat ? And will the dogs benefit fully of the hemp if it is only added to a few meals ?

    Thank you !
    Fatima in Lisbon, Portugal

    • Hi Fatima,
      Thank you! Yes, you want to just add the hemp to the ruminant (cow meat recipes). Yes, they will still benefit. You can balance the other recipes with flaxseed or oil so they are still getting oil.