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.
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.
#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.
- 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.
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!