Are Hemp Seeds Good for Dogs?

Posted by Lianne McLeod D.V.M. on

Are Hemp Seeds Good for Dogs?

Originating from the hemp plant, a version of the Cannabis plant species, hemp seeds have an interesting heritage. While they share a relationship with marijuana, they diverge considerably in their results. Hemp seeds do not bring about psychoactive emotions. Rather, they are valued for their numerous health benefits.

Taking care of a dog's diet is essential for their overall well-being. Dogs require a healthy combination of carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and vitamins to maintain optimum health. What a dog eats can have a major influence on their immune system, digestive wellness, skin condition, and also behavior. Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider the health benefits of the foods we provide to our furry companions.

dogs and hemp seed

Understanding Hemp

The hemp plant, medically known as Cannabis sativa, is a stout, sweet-smelling, tall annual herb. It has slender cane-like leaves that are dull except at the edge and foundation. The leaves are compound with a cordate form, and the flowers are small and greenish-yellow.

Seed-producing flowers form oblong spikelike clusters growing on the stamens, or adult, plants. Hemp is a versatile flower, and nearly every part of it can be processed to be something important.

Explanation of Hemp Seeds and Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seeds have a mild, nutty flavor. Hemp seed oil is extracted from these seeds through a procedure called cold pressing. Even though hemp seeds and hemp seed oil come from a similar flower, they have different uses.

The hulled hemp seeds contain lots of healthy substances such as fatty acids, essential amino acids required, vitamins, and nutrients, but contain no cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, or CBDA. In contrast, hemp oil is produced using herb parts that contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and polyphenols.

Can dogs eat hemp hearts? 

Hemp hearts are simply unshelled hemp seeds, so they are safe for dogs to eat. 

hemp seed

Nutritional Profile of Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a health powerhouse that can be a useful inclusion in a dog's diet. Here is a detailed breakdown of their important dietary components:

  1. Protein: They are an excellent source of proteins.

  2. Fiber: They contain dietary fiber, which aids digestion and promotes stomach health.

  3. Healthful Fatty Acids: They are abundant in healthy fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6.

  4. Vitamins: They are a good source of vitamins A, B, D, and E.

  5. Minerals: They contain different minerals like sodium, calcium, iron, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc.

Hemp Seeds and Dogs

Canine diet is a sophisticated field, and one of the interesting topics is the part of hemp seeds in a dog's diet. Yes, dogs may have hemp seeds. They can be eaten fresh or used to produce milk, oil, butter substitutes, or protein powder. Hemp seeds do not have the psycoactive component known as THC, which is found in cannabis.

hemp seeds and oil

Benefits of Hemp Seeds for Dogs

Hemp seeds may benefit your dog and be introduced as a part of their eating program. These tiny, crunchy seeds pack many important nutrients and can, without much of a stretch, be added to your dog's foods.

Nutritional Benefits of Hemp Seeds for Dogs

Hemp seeds are packed with essential nutrients that can contribute to the overall health of your canine companions.

  1. Protein

Protein is a crucial component of every cell in a dog’s body.  It is vital for physical development, tissue repair, immune function, and making essential hormones and enzymes. A regular three-tablespoon serving provides nine grams of protein, equivalent to 31 grams of protein for every 100 grams. This high protein content can uphold muscle development and repair in dogs, making hemp seeds a superb protein source, especially for canines on a plant-based diet.

  1. Fiber

Dietary fiber plays a vital role in a dog’s intestinal health. It aids in digestion by adding bulk to the stool, promoting regular bowel movements, and helping to maintain a healthy weight by providing a sense of fullness after meals. They also help prevent digestive issues such as constipation and maintain a healthy gut.

  1. Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, are fats that the body cannot produce itself. They must be obtained from the diet.

These fats are important for the body's basic well-being, playing roles in brain function, inflammation, and blood clotting. Hemp seeds are rich in these essential fatty acids, which may improve immunity, control cholesterol levels, and promote skin and coat health in dogs.

  1. Vitamins

Vitamins are essential for maintaining a dog’s overall health. They play various roles in the body, from promoting bone health to boosting the immune system. Hemp seeds are a good source of vitamins A, D, and E. Vitamin A supports eye vision and immune health, vitamin D plays a vital role in bone health, and vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.

  1. Minerals

Minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs to function correctly. They play a crucial part in several physiological processes, including spine health, flow balance, and the transport of oxygen in the blood. Hemp seeds contain a variety of minerals like potassium, calcium, iron, sulfur, potassium, calcium, and zinc, contributing to a dog's general well-being.

dogs playing in park near hempseeds

Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds for Dogs

Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are a highly nutritious food source that also has health benefits for dogs.

  1. Skin and Coat Health: 

Hemp seeds may benefit a dog’s skin and coat. They contain a great ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for keeping your dog’s skin hydrated and preventing a weak coat. The Omega fatty acids are directly responsible for moisturizing the skin and reducing itchiness.

  1. Joint Health: 

Hemp seeds may have anti-inflammation qualities. This property makes them particularly helpful when approaching inflammatory conditions. They may be helpful in helping relieve the pain associated with arthritis and other canine joint problems

  1. Heart Health and Blood Pressure: 

Hemp seeds have a great supply of magnesium, which can help regulate the dog’s heart rhythm and is linked to the prevention of coronary heart disease. They may help keep the dog’s blood vessels and heart healthy and strong.

  1. Digestive Health and Bowel Movements: 

Hemp seeds are rich in nutritional fiber, which can help promote good digestion and control bowel movements in dogs. Adding fiber to your dog's nutrition may promote the growth of beneficial gut microbes. They can be helpful for dogs with constipation or digestive problems.

Incorporating Hemp Seeds into a Dog’s Diet

Incorporating hemp seeds into your dog’s diet can be a simple and effective way to enhance their nutritional intake. Here are some detailed steps on how to add hemp seeds to your dog’s food:

Step 1: Choose the Right Hemp Seeds

First, ensure you’re using high-quality, natural hemp seeds. Organic seeds are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals that could be harmful to your dog’s health.

Step 2: Prepare the Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds can be served whole, but grinding them can make it easier for your dog to digest and absorb the nutrients. Use a blender or coffee grinder to grind the seeds into a fine powder.

Step 3: Mix with Dog Food

You can combine the floor hemp seeds straight into your dog's daily meals. Whether your dog eats wet or dry meals, the hemp seed powder can be easily absorbed.

You're probably asking, "how much hemp seed for dogs should I start with?" Start with a small amount and eventually improve it to the recommended amount.

If you are giving your dog hemp seeds in their solid form, it’s best to limit the amount to 1 tablespoon per day. For puppies, it is recommended to limit it to only half a tablespoon. The dosage will depend on your dog’s weight and age, but you can add a teaspoon or less to your pet’s regular food. Besides mixing them into food, you can also use hemp seeds in homemade dog treats.

Step 4: Monitor Your Dog’s Reaction

Begin with a modest amount and see how your dog responds to it. Adjust the amount as needed, keeping in mind that moderation is key. If any problems occur with feeding your dog hemp seed, they might be due to an improper dosage.

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Always consult your vet before drastically changing your dog’s diet. While hemp seeds are generally safe for most dogs, individual sensitivities or allergies may arise.

mixing hemp into dogs diet

Potential Risks and Considerations of Hemp Seeds for Dogs

While hemp seeds are generally safe and can provide many dietary benefits for dogs, there are potential risks and considerations that pet owners should be aware of. They include:

  1. Digestive Upset

One of the most common side effects of introducing new foods into a dog’s diet is digestive upset.This can manifest as vomiting or diarrhea. While hemp seeds are generally easy to digest, consuming them in large quantities may lead to digestive issues. Therefore, it’s recommended to start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage to allow your dog’s digestive system to adjust.

  1. Allergic Reactions

As with any food, there’s a risk of allergic reactions. Although allergies to hemp seeds are rare, they can occur. Symptoms of a food allergy in dogs can include skin irritation, itching, paw biting, ear infection, and occasionally gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting. If you notice any of these symptoms after introducing hemp seeds into your dog’s diet, it’s best to discontinue use and consult with your vet.

  1. Drug Interactions

Hemp seeds are rich in oily acids, which may affect the way some medicines are metabolized in the body. If your dog is on any medicines, especially those that are metabolized by the liver, it is important to consult with your vet before adding hemp seeds to their meal.

  1. Nutrient Imbalance

While hemp seeds are healthy, they should not replace a balanced, species-appropriate diet for your dog. Dogs require a variety of nutrients from various food options. Focusing too heavily on one meal supply could lead to mineral disparities.

  1. Quality and Source of Hemp Seeds

The quality and source of hemp seeds can significantly impact their safety and nutritional value. Organic, non-GMO hemp seeds are the best option as they are free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals. It is also important to ensure that the hemp seeds come from a reputable source to avoid possible contamination with THC.

Hemp seeds and hemp-based products can be a valuable addition to a dog’s diet. They are abundant in essential nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. They can help improve skin and coat health, joint health, heart health, and digestive health. As with any diet modification, a conversation with a vet is recommended to tailor the meal to your dog's particular requirements. With this recommendation, your furry friend can enjoy the greatest rewards from these healthy changes to their diet.

dog owner and hemp field with seeds

References:


1. Vastolo, A., Iliano, S., Laperuta, F., Pennacchio, S., Pompameo, M., & Cutrignelli, M. I. (2021). Hemp seed cake as a novel ingredient for dog’s diet. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 8.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2021.754625

2. Della Rocca G, Di Salvo A. Hemp in Veterinary Medicine: From Feed to Drug. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Jul 28;7:387. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00387. PMID: 32850997; PMCID: PMC7399642.

3. Author_Id, N. (2011). Scientific Opinion on the safety of hemp (Cannabis genus) for use as animal feed. EFSA Journal, 9(3). https://doi.org/10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2011

4. Di Scienze Mediche Veterinarie, D. (2004). The role of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the nutrition of dogs and cats: a review. https://cris.unibo.it/handle/11585/8424

5. Klir, Ž., Novoselec, J., & Antunović, Z. (2019). An overview on the use of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) in animal nutrition. Poljoprivreda, 25(2), 52–61. https://doi.org/10.18047/poljo.25.2.8

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Author

Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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