These days there’s a ton of buzz about hemp and its amazing health benefits for people as well as pets. And for good reason …
Hemp oil is a true superfood with an array of nutrients that are vital to health. Hemp is growing in popularity as a supplement for humans … and, it turns out, your dog needs it too!
I’ll tell you all the reasons you might want to add hemp oil to your dog’s diet … but first of all, let’s be clear what we’re talking about when we say hemp oil for dogs.
CBD or Hemp
It’s easy to get confused. There’s so much talk about CBD and hemp … and people often say hemp when they mean CBD. CBD and hemp oil both come from the hemp plant known as Cannabis sativa or industrial hemp. But they are two different things, with many different purposes.
CBD (cannabidiol) oil comes from from the stalks, leaves and buds of the hemp plant. It’s used therapeutically to help manage many health conditions … such as pain, inflammation, anxiety, seizures and even cancer.
Read more about CBD oil here.
Hemp (or hempseed) oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant, and is a nutritional supplement. The seeds contain very little CBD but are rich in nutrients that also have many health benefits.
Hemp oil is what I’m talking about today, so read on to learn more about how it can help your dog.
The Hemp Plant
Hemp’s been around a really long time. The plant originated in China way back in 2800 BC. They made rope and sacks out of hemp fiber, and the plant provided pain-relieving medicine. Hemp cultivation became popular in Europe by the16th century. So it’s an ancient plant with a long tradition of medicinal use.
Hemp contains various types of fatty acids, plus antioxidants and phospholipids. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid in hemp that’s especially valuable. You’ll see why in a bit.
Human supplements include other forms such as hemp seeds, hemp milk or hemp butter. But the best way to use hemp for dogs is to give hemp oil. The oil is cold pressed so there’s minimal processing involved.
So let’s take a look at why you might want to use hemp oil for your dog.
5 Reasons To Use Hemp Oil For Dogs
Here are some of the constituents of hemp seed oil and how they can benefit your dog.
#1 Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Your dog can synthesize GLA from linoleic acid (an omega-6 fat), but even healthy dogs can be deficient in it. GLA is an essential building block for prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that help control inflammation and support many body functions. GLA deficiencies can lead to allergies, arthritis, premature aging, digestive issues, diabetes and cancer as well as skin problems. So your dog needs to get enough of it and hemp oil can deliver.
Here are a few of the many health benefits of GLA:
- Managing arthritis pain and inflammation: the Journal of Arthritis and Rheumatism published a study showing that GLA in hemp seeds reduced arthritis symptoms by 25%. The improvement with placebo was 4%.
- Reducing skin allergies: GLA is an important nutrient to help manage atopic dermatitis. In humans, a 2005 study showed GLA significantly improved clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis. GLA also helps keep moisture in the skin, leading to suppler skin and a smoother coat.
- Weight management: GLA helps turn on the body’s fat burning mechanism and can rev up your dog’s energy levels. It may also increase serotonin, a brain chemical that contributes to the feeling of fullness.
- Anti-cancer: A 2006 study reported that GLA-rich diets modulate inflammation and boost immune function. GLA can inhibit the growth of certain types of tumors. It also stimulates apoptosis (cancer cell death). It can reduce side effects of conventional cancer drugs. The anti-inflammatory properties of GLA may also help prevent cancer by reducing chronic inflammation in the body. Prolonged inflammation weakens cells and tissues, diminishing the immune system.
#2 Omega-3 and Omega 6
Hemp oil contains an ideal 1 to 3 ratio of omega-3 (alpha linolenic acid) to Omega-6 (linoleic acid) fatty acids. A good balance of these fats is vital for health because they work synergistically in the body.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fats work together to manage inflammation in the body. Too much omega-6 turns on the hormones that raise inflammation. Too much omega-3 can cause immune dysfunction.
Inflammation isn’t always bad. It’s an important part of the body’s healing response to injury or disease. Omega-6 fats increase inflammation to help the body recover.
Omega-3s lower inflammation and control chronic inflammation in the body. Long-term chronic inflammation leads to many health problems, including:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Heart disease
- Liver or kidney disease
So adding hemp oil to your dog’s diet can help prevent these diseases.
Omega-3 fats also benefit the eyes, brain, skin, heart, bone, joints and immune system. They promote good blood flow and improve overall organ function.
[Related] Omega-3 For Dogs: The Ultimate Guide
Hemp oil contains vitamin E and vitamin A (carotene). These are antioxidants that help the immune system by fighting free radical damage. Free radicals occur when your dog absorbs toxins from vaccines, drugs, chemicals, pesticides, processed foods and pollution. They cause oxidative stress in your dog’s body, damaging cells, proteins and DNA. Antioxidants help keep free radicals under control and promote better health. These vitamins can also increase natural killer cells, helping slow the decline of immune response as your dog ages.
Vitamin E can benefit your dog’s skin, eyes, heart, cognitive function and immune system. Vitamin A also supports immunity, the eyes and skin. It can help prevent urinary stones and contains cancer-fighting properties.
Phospholipids are molecules that form part of the outer membrane of cells in the body. They help the cell maintain its internal structure and environment … called homeostasis. A 2012 study in Germany on the effects of dietary phospholipids found these benefits:
- Managing inflammation and arthritis pain
- Reducing gastric acid
- Inhibiting tumor growth in cancer
- Lowering cardiovascular disease risks
- Improving cognitive disorders and brain health
- Boosting immune function
- Repairing liver damage
#5 Safer Than Fish Oil
There are no reported side effects from using hemp oil for dogs, something you can’t say about fish oil.
They use heat to process fish oil, which makes it unstable. It can become rancid very easily, and that means it can cause inflammation in your dog. Since one of the main reasons to give dogs fish oil is to manage inflammation, this is a problem! Hemp oil is cold pressed, making it more stable than fish oil … so it’s less likely to oxidize or become rancid. (But you should still refrigerate it for longer shelf life).
Fish oil can contain mercury, radiation and other contaminants. Organic hemp oil is grown without pesticides or other toxins. The hemp plant also has a long root system, which helps regenerate healthy soil.
Sustainability is also a major concern with fish oil. Fish in the oceans are getting depleted and using fish oil removes a food source for ocean animals. Hemp is a sustainable crop that’s easy to grow in many different climates and soil types – in fact it’s said to grow like a weed!
When NOT To Use Hemp Oil For Dogs
There’s only one reason not to give your dog hemp oil and that’s if you’re feeding your dog a lot of chicken. Hemp oil with chicken is a bad combination because both are high in polyunsaturated fats. This can cause an imbalance in the fats in your dog’s diet. Instead, use flaxseed oil or whole oily fish like sardines or mackerel to round out the diet when you feed chicken.
But feel free to use hemp oil when you feed ruminant meats like beef, bison, lamb, goat, or venison.
One word of caution: if you cook for your dog, don’t cook with hemp oil, because it’s unstable at high temperatures and can become toxic.
How Much Hemp Oil
If you’re feeding beef or other ruminants, here’s how much hemp oil to give your dog:
- Under 20 lbs: 1 teaspoon once or twice daily
- 21-50 lbs: 2 teaspoons once or twice daily
- Over 51 lbs: 1 tablespoon once or twice daily
Try some hemp oil for your dog and let him reap the rewards of this ancient plant!