Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. Even though the hemp plant is from the same plant family that cannabis comes from, hemp seeds do NOT contain any cannabinoids!
In many of our new recipes, you may have noticed that canola oil is no longer included, but instead, we are using hemp seed oil. Why? Well, hemp seed oil is full of nutrients that are beneficial for you but also your pets!
Of note is its polyunsaturated fatty acid profile. Hemp seed oil is high in linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids. Gamma-linolenic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid, is also found at high levels in hemp seed oil. Together, the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is a perfect 3:1, which is the target ratio for health benefits. Cats and dogs can benefit from having hemp seed oil as part of their regular diet.
Here we discuss the nutritional composition of hemp seed oil and the subsequent health benefits!
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil:
1. Packed with Protein!
Hemp seed oil contains all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent dietary addition as a protein source for your dog or cat. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They are absorbed throughout the digestive tract and used for building proteins for many bodily functions such as enzymes.
Hemp seed oil may not cover all the amino acid requirements for pets, and therefore, recipes should also include additional protein sources. However, hemp seed oil is specifically high in arginine, glycine, glutamate, and histidine.
Arginine has some potential health benefits, such as reducing insulin resistance and improving growth for puppies and kittens! Glutamate is important for neurotransmission and cognitive health.
2. The Best Kind of Fats
Fats are a necessary part of your pet’s diet. They need fats for many functions throughout the body. And luckily, hemp seed oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids! Certain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are essential to our pets. In addition, PUFAs are thought to exert many additional health benefits.
Up to 90 % of the fatty acid profile for hemp seed oil is made up of PUFAs! It is an excellent source of essential fats for your pets. Even better is that hemp seed oil’s fatty acid profile contains a perfect three to one (3:1) Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.
The 3:1 ratio is hailed as the best omega ratio for health benefits. This ratio appears to be the best for reducing inflammation associated with diseases and disorders such as arthritis, heart health, obesity, allergy symptoms, and inflammatory bowel disease.
3. High in Fibre
Hemp seed has a high fibre content composed mostly of cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin. These fibres can travel through the digestive tract and may improve digestibility and absorption of other beneficial nutrients in the diet.
Fibres are great for gut health! And this effect can largely be observed from your pet’s poop! Fibre can help stabilize bowel movements, making it a great addition for pets who struggle with constipation, diarrhea, or irregular bowel movements. In addition, fibre intake has previously shown reductions in cholesterol levels and is associated with reduced obesity and diabetes.
4. Loaded With Polyphenols
Polyphenols of hemp seed oil have an important role in the diet of our pets. Polyphenols are a family of natural compounds that are found in plants. In hemp seed oil, lignanamides are the predominant polyphenols. These have antioxidant properties that can help reduce oxidative stress caused by reactive oxygen species.
Reactive oxygen species are naturally produced in the body, and the body uses antioxidants to bind to them, preventing them from causing harm to cells and tissues.
However, if our pet’s diets do not contain enough antioxidants or an illness, disease, or disorder is present, these harmful compounds can wreak havoc! By preventing an increase in reactive oxygen species, polyphenols also help reduce the risks for many diseases such as cancer.
5. Delivers Vitamins…
Speaking of antioxidants, beta carotene and vitamin E, also found in high amounts of hemp seed oil, are also antioxidants! Both of these are important for your pet’s natural antioxidant mechanisms in the body.
Vitamin E functions in the body to remove harmful reactive oxygen species. And beta carotene is a precursor for vitamin A, another natural antioxidant. In addition to the antioxidant effects of these vitamins, they also provide benefits to the skin, coat, and eyes.
6. …And Even Delivers Minerals
Essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and phosphorus are available in high concentrations in hemp seed oil.
Calcium is needed for bone health, with up to 90 % of the body’s calcium being found in the bone. However, calcium is integral to many metabolic processes such as muscle contraction and nerve impulses.
Phosphorus is tightly linked to calcium and is also used for bone structure and function.
Magnesium is used for over 300 metabolic functions. It helps to build muscle, digest food and form energy and for the nervous system. Similarly, potassium is used to keep those muscles working properly! Sulfur is integral to many amino acids, which muscles use to grow and are essential to skin and coat.
As you can see, hemp seed oil is a powerful ingredient that acts as a large vessel for nutrients for your pets! Because of these many benefits and the nutritional value that hemp seed oil offers, it is added to many of Tom&Sawyer’s gently-cooked meals for dogs.
If you have any questions about the use of hemp seed oil in our recipes or about Tom&Saywer recipes for your pet, don’t hesitate to reach out and consult with our qualified animal nutritionist.
- Leonard W., Zhang P., Ying D., & Fang Z. (2019). Hempseed in food industry: Nutritional value, health benefits, and industrial applications. Rev Food Sci Food Safety, 19(1); 282-308.
- Xu Y., Li J., Zhao J., Wang W., Griffin J., et al. (2020). Hempseed as a nutritious and healthy human food or animal feed source: a review. Intern J food Sci Tech, 56(2); 530-543.
Article written by:
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition