Why We Think You Should Give Your Dog Hemp
Hemp is one of the oldest and most versatile plants, dating back to the 28th century BC. Today, hemp is used in foods and textiles, but in the pet world, we’re most interested in hemp seed and the oil it produces.
You may be thinking, “Hemp is a variety of cannabis, I’m not giving that to my dog!” If you are, try and open your mind to the many health promoting properties that nearly every dog could use.
Unlike fish oil, hemp seed oil contains the perfect ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3, the essential fatty acids that your dog can’t produce and needs 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 high in an essential Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). There are 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 most dogs can make enough of it, mist of the time), there are plenty of circumstances (hard exercise or stress) where dogs can’t make enough GLA and supplementing becomes important. And, 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 a placebo at 4%. Once again, this is because the 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 fatty acid balance also plays an important role in reducing 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 line hormones that circulate around the body, helping smooth muscle contractions, control inflammation, regulate body temperature, and other vital functions. The GLA that’s abundant in hemp seed is a building block for prostaglandins. Researchers are currently looking at GLA supplementation as an important component to proper hormone and health development.
A Word of Caution!
Before you start adding hemp oil to your dog’s meals, there are 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.
- If your dog is eating a poultry-based diet, adding hemp seed oil may cause an imbalance in his diet. This is 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, hemp seed oil is a great way to balance the diet.
How Much to Give
Now you may be wondering how much hemp seed oil to add to your dog’s red-meat diet for an added health boost. 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 see for yourself why this ancient superfood is making such a huge comeback.
For more on hemp oil, visit our friends at Dogs Naturally Magazine, or ask a Brookside Barkery & Bath associate on your next visit in!