Can Pets Eat Hempseeds?

Written by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
safe for pets
Dog With Hempseeds

Story at-a-glance -

  • Hempseeds are technically nuts from the hemp plant, a nondrug variety of Cannabis sativa L.
  • They contain fiber, which may help maintain a healthy gut microbiome and improve your pet's digestive process, lowering their risk of diarrhea or constipation
  • Hempseeds are generally safe for cats and dogs to consume as a treat, but keep in mind that healthy snacks like this should constitute only up to 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake
  • Although hempseeds come from a plant that's related to marijuana, this variety of Cannabis sativa L. contains very low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and thus will not make your pet "high" if consumed

Healthy pet treats and food toppers should account for only 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake. A variety of fresh, organic meats, veggies and fruits make great treats and real food toppers. Another pantry staple that you can add into your pet's meals are seeds. Hempseeds, in particular, may be small but they pack a lot of nutrients. Read on to learn more about the benefits that your pet may reap from hempseeds and what you need to keep in mind when giving this food to them as a healthy topper.

Are Hempseeds Good for Dogs?

Also known as hemp hearts, hempseeds are technically nuts from the hemp plant, a nondrug variety of Cannabis sativa L. Hulled hempseeds are a source of fiber, providing 1.2 grams per 3-tablespoon (approximately 1 ounce) serving.1 This may help maintain a healthy gut microbiome2 and improve your pet's digestive process, lowering their risk of diarrhea or constipation. Hempseeds also contain the following minerals:3

  • Magnesium — There are 210 milligrams of magnesium in a 3-tablespoon serving of hempseed.4 This mineral is a cofactor for the enzymes that regulate different biochemical reactions in your dog's body, including metabolism, hormone function and calcium absorption.5
  • Phosphorus — Your dog may obtain around 495 milligrams of phosphorus per 3 tablespoons of hempseeds.6 This macronutrient works with calcium to regulate bone development.7 It also plays a role in energy metabolism. Research shows that phosphorus deficiency in pets can cause poor skin and coat quality as well as musculoskeletal problems.8
  • Potassium — A 3-tablespoon serving of hulled hempseeds provides 360 milligrams of potassium,9 an important mineral for healthy muscle and nerve function.10

Hempseeds are found to contain high amounts of oil, with a balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.11 However, your dog lacks the necessary enzymes to efficiently convert vegetable sources of fatty acids into DHA and EPA. Cats cannot metabolize fats from hempseeds and other vegetable sources at all,12 so if you're topping your pet's food with hempseeds to increase their intake of healthy fats, you should choose other animal-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids instead, such as sardines and wild-caught Alaskan salmon.

One important thing to remember when feeding your dog homemade treats made from healthy ingredients like hempseeds is to limit the serving to 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake. You should also occasionally switch it with other types of seeds and fresh ingredients to add variety into your pet's real food toppers.

Are Hempseeds Safe for Cats?

Hempseeds are generally safe for cats to consume as a topper, if they will eat them,13,14 but keep in mind that wholesome snacks like this should constitute only up to 10% of your cat's daily caloric intake. Hempseeds may be as beneficial for felines as they are for canines, as it can provide them with a variety of health-boosting nutrients mentioned above.

When Are Hempseeds Bad for Pets?

Despite their potential health benefits, feeding your pet excessive amounts of hempseeds can cause loose stools. If it's your first time giving your pet hempseeds as a treat, start with a small amount before gradually increasing the serving.

I also suggest consulting your integrative veterinarian to determine the right amount of hempseeds that you can add into your pet's treat to meet their specific needs. As a food topper, many people give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight on their pet's food daily.

Try Making These Hempseed Pet Treat Recipes

Here are some healthy homemade pet treat recipes that make use of hempseeds as toppers:

Peach and Feta Salad With Lavender Dressing

Ingredients:

1 cup chicken liver

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon hemp hearts

Tools:

Small dish

Parchment paper

Food dehydrator

Procedure:

  1. Mix seeds together in small dish.
  2. Coat livers in seeds and place on parchment-covered dehydrator trays.
  3. Dehydrate at 155 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours.
  4. Reduce temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for four more hours, or until liver is thoroughly dried.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

(Recipe by Dr. Becker)

Blueberry Hemp Dog Treats Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 large organic egg

1/2 cup organic blueberries, chopped

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons hempseeds

4 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce

4 tablespoons water

 

Procedure:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the coconut flour and egg in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in the hemp seeds, baking soda and applesauce. Add water and stir well.
  4. Gently add the blueberries into the dough.
  5. Scoop the dough with a spoon and place it on the baking sheet. Gently flatten with the palm of your hand.
  6. Bake until the cookies start to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Let the cookies cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing it from the baking sheet and storing it in an airtight container.

This recipe makes 14 cookies.

(Recipe adapted from Pet Food Diva15)

Frequently Asked Questions About Hempseeds for Pets

Q: Is it safe to feed my pet hempseeds as a food topper?

A: Yes, hempseeds are safe for cats and dogs to eat, but keep in mind that healthy food toppers like this should constitute only up to 10% of your pet's daily caloric intake.

Q: Will eating hempseed treats make my pet "high?"

A: No. Although hempseeds come from a plant that's related to marijuana, this variety of Cannabis sativa L. contains immeasurable amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of this plant species. With less than 0.3% THC,16 studies show that hemp seeds are nonpsychoactive17 and thus will not make your pet high if consumed.