Hemp For Dogs: Should You Use It?
Is your dog missing out on a great superfood?
You might be thinking, “Hemp is a variety of cannabis, I’m not giving that to my dog!”
If you are, it would be too bad because hemp has many health promoting properties nearly every dog could use!
Hemp Is Not Marijuana
Let’s get that out in the open right now!
Hemp is a variety of cannabis that’s been safely used for years here in the US. It does contain a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinoids (THC) that makes marijuana well, marijuana, but it only contains 0.3% to 1.5% THC whereas marijuana contains 5% to 10% or more! So hemp will not cause your dog to have psychotropic reactions … or a sudden craving for munchies!
And, since he’s probably not smoking the hemp (I assume), he’ll reap the health benefits with few unwanted side effects!
Why I Think You Should Give Your Dog Hemp
Hemp is one of our oldest and most versatile plants, dating back to the 28th century BC.
Today, hemp is used in foods and even textiles, but we’re most interested in the hemp seed and the oil it produces.
Unlike fish oil, hemp seed oil contains the perfect ratio of Omega-6 (linoleum acid) to Omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids, meaning your dog can’t produce them and needs to get them in his diet. A good balance of these Omega oils is critical to your dog’s health because they work synergistically in the body.
Hemp seeds are also high in an essential Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). That’s important because there’s some really good reasons to boost the GLA in your dog’s diet:
1. It Fights Cancer
Researchers at the American Cancer Society say there’s evidence that people with cancer, diabetes and skin allergies don’t make enough GLA … and these issues are incredibly common in dogs too. While GLA is considered a conditionally essential fatty acid (which means that most dogs can make enough of it, most of the time), there are many circumstances (hard exercise or stress) where dogs can’t make enough GLA and supplementing can become important.
The THC in hemp seeds have also been found to stop brain cancer (British Journal of Cancer), improve breast cancer (Breast Cancer Research and Treatment) and lung cancer.
Finally, because the GLA is perfectly balanced with Omega-3 fats, hemp seed oil will help reduce inflammation in your dog and strengthen the immune system.
2. It Reduces Joint Pain
Researchers in the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatology found that the GLA found in hemp seeds reduced arthritis symptoms by 25% compared to the placebo at 4%. Once again, this is because the perfect balance of fatty acids helps to reduce inflammation naturally.
3. It Improves Skin And Coat
Hemp seed has long been used in cosmetic products and soaps because the oil can penetrate the inner layers of the skin and promote healthy cellular growth.
The balanced fatty acids also play an important role in reducing the inflammation associated with common skin issues, including atopic dermatitis, pruritic skin disease and granulomas.
How Hemp Seed Oil Works
Your dog has substances in his body called prostaglandins. These are like hormones and they circulate around the body, helping to smooth muscle contractions, control inflammation, regulate the body temperature and other vital functions.
The GLA that’s abundant in hemp seed is a building block for prostaglandins. Researchers are looking at GLA supplementation today as an important component of proper hormone health and development.
Before you start adding hemp oil to your dog’s meals, there’s a couple of things you should first know.
Hemp seed oil is a polyunsaturated fat, which means the oil is unstable. If you cook your dog’s food, you won’t want to add hemp seed oil to the food while cooking as this can cause the oil to become rancid and cause health issues in your dog.
In addition, if your dog is eating a poultry-based diet, adding hemp seed oil may cause an imbalance in his diet because chicken is already quite high in polyunsaturated fats and linoleic acid. According to Steve Brown, author of Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet, flaxseed oil is a better choice for chicken-based diets.
But if your dog is eating a diet rich in beef and other ruminants, then hemp seed oil is a great way to balance the diet, alongside your dog’s regular fish or fish oil.
How Much To Give
So we’ve established that giving your dog hemp seed oil whenever you give him red meat is an excellent boost to his health. So how much should you give?
Steve Brown recommends adding a teaspoon for every 1 to 1 1/4 pounds of food.
Cannabis sativa actually means“useful hemp” in Latin. Try adding some to your dog’s diet and learn why this ancient superfood is making such a huge comeback!
About the Author Dana Scott
Dana Scott is Editor In Chief for Dogs Naturally Magazine. She also breeds Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix and has been a raw feeding, natural rearing breeder since the 90’s. She is an advocate for natural health care for dogs and people and works tirelessly to educate pet owners so they can influence veterinary medicine and change current vaccine, food and preventive health practices. Visit Dana’s Labradors at Fallriver Labs