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Hemp seeds, also known as hemp hearts, are seeds derived from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa. Many people panic about the thought of themselves or their animals eating anything related to cannabis, however hemp seeds are a part of the plant which contains negligible amounts of the psychoactive substance, THC. The AAFCO recommends less than 0.04% of THC in dog foods, and hemp seeds do not contain anywhere near this level.
They are considered a superfood because of their many health benefits, and dogs love their nutty flavour. Hemp seeds are packed full of protein, healthy fats, fibre, omega oils, vitamins and minerals.
Rare to the plant world, hemp is a complete protein source. Many plant-based proteins lack the amino acid lysine, but hemp is not one of them. Being a complete protein source means that the food contains all the proteins needed for the dog to live out a healthy lifestyle without deficiencies.
The main benefit of hemp seeds are the fatty acids they contain. Omega-6 and omega-3 are present in the perfect 3:1 ratio which has been scientifically proven to reduce inflammation. This is beneficial to any dogs suffering from osteoarthritis or inflamed allergic skin.
They also contain high quantities of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a subtype of omega-6. This will help reduce inflammation in joints, as well as the chances of contracting cancers and diabetes.
Hemp seeds can reduce the risks of developing heart disease and keep the heart in good health as well. It contains an amino acid called arginine, which is involved in the formation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, and leads to a lower blood pressure, thereby putting less stress on the heart. Higher concentrations of arginine have also been linked to lower levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker present with heart disease.
Overall, hemp seeds are therefore excellent additions to any dog food, to improve heart, joint, skin and general organ health, and can be consumed by any dog, regardless of life stage.