More and more pet owners are seeking alternative nutritional options for their favorite four-legged friends, and hemp is a curious option. Can dogs eat hemp seeds? Or is this just another fad that’s potentially dangerous due to prevailing attitudes around the cannabis plant (hemp plant)?
As it turns out, hemp seeds are perfectly fine for dogs to eat. There are already plenty of hemp products on the market, engineered specifically for our canine companions, such as hemp seed oil.
In fact, hemp seed oil comes directly from hemp seeds through a process of cold compression. The hemp seeds are crushed under a press, and the cellular walls that hold the oil are compromised, pushing the oil out for extraction.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is the cannabis plant, and, in most cases, it’s the cannabis plant on an industrial scale. That’s because the hemp products we recognize were most likely grown and manufactured at the industrial level. It’s highly unlikely that company personnel just wander around in the woods for a while until they stumble upon a hemp plant.
I prefer organic hemp (which I’ll cover more in-depth below) because it’s grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides, human manipulation, or any kind of synthetic exterior source. What I give my Dobermans is as close as you can get to gathering or pressing the seeds yourself.
Can Dogs Eat Hemp Seeds?
Dogs can eat hemp seeds (which are usually called hemp hearts) safely. Many dog food retail chains are beginning to understand the nutritional value and growing consumer demand for hemp seeds and hemp seed oil, both of which are quickly becoming commonplace.
Hemp seeds on the production chain are “hulled hemp seeds,” not the entirety of the actual seed. Hulled hemp seeds are what dogs eat, not the fibrous outer layer that’s removed when the seeds are processed.
Dogs can also consume hemp seed oil. As discussed above, hemp seed oil is extracted from the seed through cold compression. Either way, both of these products are a part of the hemp seed, whether it’s the inner seed or the extracted oil.
Of course, although it’s perfectly fine for dogs to eat hemp seeds (I supplement my own dog’s diet with hemp seeds, coconut oil, and raw eggs), there is a limit, and you don’t want to exceed it. As my great-great-grandmother Long once told me, “Everything in moderation.”
All hemp seeds are sold with a “recommended label” on them that explains the dosage and the amount your dog should safely have per day (based on size and weight).
Nutritional Value of Hemp Seeds
There’s a surprising amount of nutrition in a properly proportioned hemp seed diet. Hemp seeds are thought of by some to be superfoods because they contain omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, Vitamin E, fiber, protein, potassium, Vitamin A, and iron.
Now, a portion of hemp seeds doesn’t constitute a complete diet, and your dog may need more or less of other nutritional requirements to remain perfectly healthy.
For instance, the iron in a serving of hemp seeds is only 25% of a dog’s daily diet. Vitamin A only makes up between 15% and 20%. There’s protein in hemp seeds, but nowhere near enough protein to take the place of your dog’s primary protein source.
That’s why dog hemp seeds, hemp oil, and anything else that comes from the hemp plant are considered “supplemental.” Even as a superfood, dog hemp seeds can only supplement, not replace.
While the benefits of hemp (especially the omega fatty acids) are well understood, there are some negatives to dogs consuming hemp seeds or hemp oil, which I’ll cover more extensively in a bit. This is especially true for dogs that are on anti-coagulants, which plays specifically into my Dobermans since they are notorious for being free-bleeders.
Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds for Dogs
The arguments over hemp vs. CBD for dogs have produced a number of positive results. Unfortunately, many of the hemp and CBD side of canine nutrition has very little to show for it in terms of scientific studies.
For decades, hemp has largely existed in a negative light, mostly because of recreational drug use. Since the cannabis plant is infamous with justice systems all over the world, scientific studies tended to approach the plant in a negative light.
Still, there are certain things that we know hemp seeds benefit when it comes to your canine’s overall health.
- Hemp has calming effects, according to a study conducted by Waltham Petcare Science Institute
- Hemp oil (seed derivative), according to Dr. Harun of VetAdvises, improves your dog’s skin and coat
- A new study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine and Medterra determined canine cannabis improves osteoarthritis in dogs
- A study published by the National Library of Medicine showed improvements in the digestion of nutrients, blood biochemistry, and immune system efficacy in teddy dogs
- That same study showed improvements in teddy dog’s blood biochemistry, directly related to heart health and lower blood pressure
- Hemp seeds serve as antioxidants, improving overall health and age longevity by removing free radicals in dogs
- The same study on teddy dogs, published by the National Library of Medicine, determined that hemp oil reduced blood sugar, reducing joint inflammation
Despite all of the hoopla surrounding the hemp plant right now, there are very few studies on the ground concerning the effects of hemp seeds on dogs, including the hemp oil derived from hemp seeds.
The studies above are very new and part of a growing number of studies either currently ongoing or planned for the near future. The whole hemp plant has a lot to offer, and the studies conducted concerning the results in canines are very promising.
Plus, there’s observable evidence on the ground, based on those who purchase hemp hearts for their dogs. When dogs eat hemp seeds, they tend to become healthier in many aspects. The benefits of hemp are becoming more and more undeniable as research continues to come out.
With measurable improvements in joint inflammation, joint pain, immune system, blood pressure, dry skin, skin diseases in general, gut health and digestive issues, allergies, and stress, it’s hard to argue with hemp seeds as an additive to your dog’s diet.
How to Give Hemp Seeds to Dogs
Giving hemp seeds to dogs is pretty simple. All you need to do is measure out the serving they are allowed each day and put it in their food. Most dogs can have a tablespoon per day when it comes to the solid form.
For small dogs, half a tablespoon is best. Make sure you follow the directions to a T. Too much will potentially have detrimental effects on your dog’s health, so you want to avoid that altogether.
My Dobermans get a solid tablespoon per day, mixed in with a raw egg, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and enough water to keep them hydrated while consuming premium, dry dog food.
There’s always the possibility that your dog has a sensitive stomach. That’s perfectly okay. All you need to do is introduce hemp seeds incrementally. Start off with 1/4 of the serving recommendation. Keep it that way for about a week, observing your dog for any digestive issues. If they’re fine, up the amount to 1/2 a serving for another week.
Continue like this until you reach a full serving. If you’re using hemp oil, nothing changes. Again, simply follow the directions and apply only a serving to your dog’s food source. For dogs with a sensitive stomach, go the incremental route until your pup is used to it.
Best Hemp Product: What to Look For
I love Honest Paws Well Oil when I go the “oil” route, but it’s a CBD Oil, and Honest Paws doesn’t harvest or sell pure hemp seeds. I feed my dogs hemp seeds making sure they’re organic, loaded with essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, Vitamin E, zinc, protein, and some Vitamin A.
If you’re looking for the best hemp/CBD for hyper dogs, I use CBD oil Drops for Dogs by Honest Paws. There is a specified hemp or CBD product for dogs with cancer, dogs dealing with seizures, dogs with arthritis, and dogs with anxiety. If you need it, there’s a hemp or CBD product for it.
How Long Hemp Lasts in Dogs
On average, hemp’s effects will last anywhere between 6 and 8 hours in dogs. Now, those “average” numbers are affected by a number of things, including your dog’s weight, overall size, metabolism, breed, and their current condition (if applicable).
I say “if applicable” because you can and should give hemp seeds as a nutritional supplement to your canines even if they don’t have a condition they are dealing with. It’s as much a health preventative as it is a holistic curative.
If your dog has a slow metabolism, the hemp may last extra long, double the minimum timeframe in the average dog. Of course, if your dog is suffering from joint pain or something similar, the long-term effects of benefits of hemp in dogs with slow metabolism are evident.
If your dog has a sensitive stomach and has trouble dealing with a full serving, prepare yourself to deal with the aftereffects for hours. It also matters how your dog takes the hemp. For the most part, hemp is sold as an oil or hemp hearts, and your dog will consume it orally. The oral route equates to longer effects.
CBD or hemp products administered via skin absorption (creams and sprays) take longer to reach their full effect, and the effect itself doesn’t last as long.
Risks Associated with Hemp Seeds
As with everything in life, there is always a downside, and there are a few risks associated with hemp seeds, including poor interaction with anti-coagulants. I mentioned this above for a reason. Anticoagulants reduce the dog’s ability to form platelets, which are responsible for clotting up wounds if your canine is injured.
Dobermans are known for having this problem without taking anticoagulants. As free bleeders, some Dobermans have trouble forming scabs over cuts and abrasions. Neither of my Dobermans has this issue, but it is prevalent in the breed.
A study conducted in 2007 concluded that hemp seeds reduce the body’s ability to produce platelets. Now granted, this was a study conducted on humans, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a problem in dogs as well.
Another 2020 study concluded that hemp seeds tend to block the body’s ability to absorb iron and select minerals. Again, this study was conducted with humans in mind.
Is Hemp Safe for Dogs?
Hemp is largely considered to be safe for dogs, backed by a select number of studies that are growing in number and positivity towards the product.
Can Hemp Seeds Make My Dog High?
Hemp seeds will not make your dog high because they have an absolute minimal to zero amount of THC. THC is the part that elicits euphoria and what we understand to be a “high.”
Which is Better for Dogs, Hemp Seed or CBD?
Both hemp seeds and CBD offer a lot of nutritional value for dogs, mostly a match for each other in every way. However, CBD probably has the high ground here since it also helps with a number of behavioral and mental disorders in dogs.
The essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals found in hemp seeds make them an excellent holistic, alternative nutritional additive for your furry friend.
It also helps dogs that tend to be hypersensitive by calming them down, reducing their overall stress levels, and helping them focus more. This latter benefit isn’t as intensely beneficial as CBD oil, but it’s a welcome side-effect of positive nutrition.
As always, be safe in how you administer it. Your puppy looks up to you to protect and defend it, so make sure you only give them the recommended serving or less. This is especially true if you’re introducing it for the first time.