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Hemp Seed: Benefits of Adding Hemp Seed Oil to a Dog's Diet

by Candid Tails on Mar 29, 2022

Hemp Seed: Benefits of Adding Hemp Seed Oil to a Dog's Diet

Hemp Seed Cake as a Novel Ingredient for Dog’s Diet

Vastolo, S. Iliano, F. Laperuta, S. Pennacchio, M. Pompameo, M. I. Cutrignelli   



  • n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are essential and extremely important for the well-being and healthy development of dogs
  • Apart from its direct benefits, the presence of n-3 PUFA in the diet allows obtaining other benefits such as anti-inflammatory. 
  • Linolenic (n-6) and α-linolenic (n-3) acid cannot be produced by dogs and are therefore fundamental in a dog’s diet
  • The study showed that the hempseed cake supplement had a higher crude protein and fiber content than the compared animal lipid source 
  • The hempseed supplement showed a healthier fatty acid profile, with a higher concentration of PUVA, linolenic and α-linolenic acid and in a ratio ideal for dogs’ health and optimal for reduction of certain diseases, like cancer and sudden cardiac death 
  • After 1 month of diet supplementation with hempseed cake, dogs experienced a reduction in liver and renal markers 
  • Improvement of other hematological parameters, such as cholesterol, after the hempseed diet, confirmed that the addition of hempseed cake is safe for dogs to consume

OBJECTIVES & HYPOTHESIS → Previous studies have evidenced that hemp is a rich source of protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), vitamins, and useful minerals. In particular, hemp seed oil has a favorable fatty acid profile, containing LA (linolenic acid, n-6), ALA (α-linolenic acid, n-3) and most of n-6 and n-3 PUFA. These fatty acids are essential for dogs, since they cannot synthesize them de novo. Moreover, LA and ALA are extremely important for cell function and for the development of the nervous system. Finally, PUFA influences growth and health status of dogs, helps to increase general metabolic rates, may promote the burning of fat and is renoprotective. The following study aimed to evaluate the use of hempseed cake in dogs’ nutrition and as a source of lipids in dogs’ diet.


METHODS → The effects of the supplementation of two lipid sources (swine tallow and hempseed cake) were compared in a double-blind nutritional trial. 8 healthy dogs enrolled in the 30-day trial and were divided into two groups [swine tallow (T-group) and hempseed cake (H-group)]. A canned commercial diet was supplemented with the same amount (3.5% as feed) of swine tallow or hempseed cake and each diet was administered twice daily in a ratio of 110 kcal/kg0.75 of metabolizable energy.


RESULTS → No significant differences have been observed for body weight and BCS between groups and/or periods after 1 month of diet administration. In concern to the chemical composition and fatty acid profile of the two lipid sources, the H-diet has shown higher crude protein and crude fiber content and lower ether extract amount compared with the T-diet. Additionally, the hempseed cake supplementation showed a higher concentration of PUFA. The presence of n-3 PUFA in the diet allows obtaining other benefits such as anti-inflammatory. In particular, a higher amount of n-3 fatty acids could have a positive effect, especially in dogs with pruritus and other inflammatory diseases. Indeed, essential fatty acids from n-6 and n-3 families are proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and immunomodulating properties on skin diseases. Furthermore, dietary PUFA seems to affect animal behavioral changes, learning capacity, emotions, and impulse control. The hempseed cake also demonstrated to be rich in LA and ALA, which are essential for dogs considering that this species cannot synthesize LA and ALA ex novo. Particularly, ALA could be converted to EPA and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, which are necessary for dogs. Consequently, it is necessary to include LA and ALA in dogs’ diets. The differences between fatty acid categories affected the ratio between categories, and these changes could influence animal health. The hempseed cake diet has shown an n-6/n-3 ratio claimed to be the ideal for humans and dogs. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are very important for the development of the nervous system, and an optimal dietary n-6/n-3 fatty acid ratio reduces the incidence of some diseases, such as cancer and sudden cardiac death. In regard to the clinical findings, all biochemical parameters were within the normal reference ranges for dogs. After 30 days of administration, the H-group has shown a significant reduction of liver markers (AST and ALT), renal markers (creatinine) and cholesterol, due to the healthier fatty acid profile. These reductions are due to the presence of both n-6 and n-3 PUFA in hempseed cake. Comparing the groups, animals fed with the T-diet also showed higher levels CK. These results could suggest a beneficial effect of a diet supplemented with hempseed cake due to the high amount of PUFA, particularly the linoleic and α-linolenic acids. In this regard, dietary supplementation with PUFA, in particular ALA, may be a useful addition to treatment in renal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cutaneous inflammatory disorders, thromboembolic disease, and autoimmune diseases. In conclusion, the improvement of several hematological parameters, such as cholesterol, renal, and hepatic biomarkers, confirmed that the addition of hempseed cake and its enriched PUFA profile are safe for dogs to consume.


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