Hemp is a ‘perfect protein’ – unusual for the plant kingdom – meaning it contains all 20 amino acids (the building blocks of all proteins in the body), and all of the ‘essential’ amino acids that dogs need to get from their food. Unlike other plant-based proteins it is also highly digestible, making it a great addition to your dog’s diet to help them maintain optimal brain and body health.
Hemp has a long history as a staple, delicious food source, cultivated for centuries due to its healing and nutritional qualities. In the mid-twentieth century however, a knee-jerk reaction to its relationship with its cousin marijuana, saw consumption of hemp as food banned in numerous countries for many years.
Although every country subsequently overturned their bans, Australia and New Zealand were the last of the developed countries to hold fast to illegality for decades. Until recently. Thankfully, common sense has now prevailed and in November 2017 hemp foods were once again made legal and available for consumption in Australia. Yay!
This is not only a milestone for Australian human health, but for the health of Australian dogs as well.
Why is hemp so good for dogs?
Hemp foods are a rich source of minerals important for dog health and wellbeing, including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, manganese and calcium. Manganese, for example, is needed for bone growth, nerve function and lowering blood-sugar levels, but it is often difficult to obtain enough in a raw meat-based diet.
Although dogs do eat a lot of different things, they are primarily carnivores and have digestive systems designed to consume large amounts of protein. Getting them enough protein, and protein that is of high quality, should be our number one priority! While animal protein is the best and most natural source, supplementing a raw meat-based diet with plant protein is beneficial. And hemp is a good choice. It has more protein than chia seeds, making it one of the highest sources of plant-based protein in the world.
Here are our top 3 reasons to add hemp to your beloved dog’s meal every day.
- Hemp is a super skin and coat conditioner and immunity booster due to its unique fat profile. Despite what you may think, fat is an extremely important part of a dog’s diet. Like humans, dogs need a number of ‘essential’ fatty acids – those that they cannot synthesise themselves and need to get from food – to maintain optimal health and wellbeing. Hemp is unique in that it contains nature’s most perfect balance of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids in the form of Linoleic Acid (LA) and Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) respectively, which are both essential for dogs. Getting enough of these in the right balance can be tricky, but is critical to allow dogs to maintain healthy eyes, skin and coat, and ensure optimal nerve and cell function, including throughout the immune system. Just adding some to your dog’s meal is an easy way to help get the fat balance right, and to support your dog to look and feel healthier, inside and out.
- Hemp improves brain function and may support better learning, behaviour and attention, again thanks to its impressive fatty acid content. The right balance of omegas 3 and 6 are imperative for brain and nerve function, and as we now know, hemp has a supreme ratio of these already packed and ready to go. Hemp’s benefits go further than this as it also contains the ‘conditional’ omega 6 fatty acid Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). ‘Conditional’ means that under normal circumstances, dogs (and humans) should be able to synthesise enough themselves to be healthy. However, many pet dogs are in need of extra GLA, including growing puppies, high energy or working dogs, or those that are stressed or anxious, who reserve energy to do other things. Without GLA, brain function can suffer (GLA supplementation has in fact been shown to benefit humans with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). For dogs, the evidence shows that those who maintain a complete range of all the fatty acids they need learn faster, have better memories, and can see and hear better than those who don’t.
- Hemp can reduce inflammation (including arthritis) and help fight cancer. Hemp’s remarkable omega fatty acid profile plays an important role in boosting overall immunity, reducing inflammation and helping combat degenerative diseases associated with this, including cancer. GLA, for example, has been shown in studies to have a role in alleviating inflammation, making it an important part of the diet of older dogs, dogs with cancer, and in fact all dogs. Hemp is also one of the highest sources of plant-based protein in the world (more even than chia seeds), and contains many of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of all proteins in the body) that dogs need from their food to thrive. This means hemp protein can support cellular and organ regeneration and boost immunity. On top of this, hemp also has a huge variety of minerals and vitamins, including a high content of super antioxidant Vitamin E compounds that help fight free radicals in the body that known to play a role in cancer development.
But wait! I hear you say – Wolves didn’t have to add hemp foods to their meals, why do we need to add it to our dog’s food? There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, the American Animal Feed Control Organization (AAFCO) which regulates most pet food, lists only the omega 6 Linoleic Acid as an essential fatty acid for dogs. Omega 3 is also quite unstable (goes rancid quickly), so for both of these reasons is often omitted from many commercial dog foods. As such, most commercial dog food is much higher in omega 6 than omega 3, putting our dogs’ intake out of balance.
Even if you’re feeding your dog raw meat unless it’s grass fed (not grain fed) that meat is generally high in omega 6 which means supplementing with omega 3 to help bring them into balance is key.
Bottom line – to make sure our dogs are getting enough and the right balance of fats we need to supplement their diet with a good source of both. Hemp has all this, and just a small amount added to your dog’s meal can have significant health benefits.
You can add hemp to your dog’s diet through hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, and hemp protein, or CHECK OUT OUR HEMP DOG FOOD RANGE #ADD LINK# from treats to supplements to make it even easier!