Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Dogs: What’s the Difference?
If you’ve been keeping up with trends in pet health, then you’re probably already aware that hemp and CBD oils are some of the hottest products right now.
These products have been claimed to do everything from calming an anxious pup to helping older dogs with joint and mobility issues. However, if you’re not familiar with them or how they work, it’s easy to get confused when deciding which to buy.
The biggest question, of course, is whether there’s a difference between hemp oil and CBD oil, and if so, what that difference is.
In this brief guide, we’ll give you an overview of both products, so you can decide which one to purchase for your pup.
What’s the Difference Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil?
Both products are derived from the hemp plant, so it’s easy to assume that they’re the same thing. That assumption would be erroneous, however.
Hemp oil is usually made from hemp seeds, whereas CBD oil is made from the rest of the plant (the flowers, stalks, and leaves).
While they both come from the same plant, they have different properties and are best used for different things.
Generally speaking, hemp oil is more of a nutritional supplement, as it’s loaded with important antioxidants. CBD oil, on the other hand, is used for medicinal purposes.
It’s important to note that many online platforms (such as Amazon) don’t allow the sale of CBD oil, so you may find manufacturers selling CBD oil but labeling it as hemp oil. Always check the label to see where the oil came from so you know for sure what you’re getting.
Image Credit: Erin_Hinterland, Pixabay
The Importance of Cannabinoids
Cannabinoids are compounds that are found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The most well-known cannabinoid is THC, which is responsible for the psychoactive effects triggered by marijuana use.
THC isn’t found in either hemp or CBD oil, so you don’t have to worry about your dog getting stoned. However, there are 65 other cannabinoids found in hemp, including one known as cannabidiol, or CBD.
All vertebrates have receptors throughout their bodies for producing and receiving cannabinoids. Many are found in the brain, where they help with memory and motor functions, while others boost your immune system and the production of bone marrow cells.
When you ingest cannabinoids, they can inhibit the release of neurotransmitters responsible for releasing certain chemicals, such as stress hormones or pain signals. This is why cannabinoids like CBD are now being explored for their abilities to treat pain and other issues in pets and humans alike.
Cannabinoids are only found in the resin of the plant, so you won’t find it in the seeds; it’s only present in the stalk, leaves, and flowers. As a result, this makes hemp oil and CBD oil extremely different in how they interact with your body.
Overview of Hemp Oil
While hemp oil may not offer any of the major medicinal benefits that CBD oil is famous for, that doesn’t mean it’s without merit on its own. In fact, it’s one of the most antioxidant-rich substances on the planet.
Hemp oil is chock-full of omega fatty acids, which can be used for everything from improving brain function to fighting off inflammation. If you’ve ever heard that fish is good for you, it’s largely due to the omega fatty acids, and hemp oil has them in spades.
As a result, hemp oil may be able to help with certain medical issues, such as skin conditions, arthritis, and lowering cholesterol, but its effects are going to be less visible and dramatic than those you’d find with CBD oil.
That being said, hemp oil will make your dog healthier overall, which is never a bad thing. There aren’t really any downsides to giving your dog hemp oil, but it’s important to know that you won’t see an immediate difference like you would with cannabinoid-rich CBD oil.
When Should You Give Your Dog Hemp Oil?
There’s really no bad time to start giving your dog hemp oil; dogs of any age will benefit from the antioxidant-rich oil.
Younger puppies can benefit from it, as omega fatty acids are important for proper brain and eye development. It will also help their immune systems become as powerful as possible.
If you’re giving it to an adult dog, treat it as more of a preventative measure than anything else. Hemp oil can stave off issues like heart disease and dementia, so you can’t go wrong adding it to your dog’s chow.
Once your pup becomes a senior animal, hemp oil becomes even more important for keeping their brain, heart, and immune system functioning properly. The anti-inflammatory properties will be helpful too, but you may still need to give your dog a pain reliever as well.
Hemp Oil for Cats: What Are the Benefits & How Does It Work?
Hemp oil has a plethora of health benefits for cats. If your cat’s diet doesn’t include hemp oil, you might be missing out on a lot of opportunities to improve their well-being.
For some cat parents, hemp oil has become a game-changer — this applies to both hemp seed oil and CBD oil.
From essential nutrients to phytocannabinoids that support the mammalian endocannabinoid system, hemp extracts can be an inseparable element of your cat’s healthy lifestyle.
In this article, we’ll cover why hemp oil is an effective holistic product for cats. You’ll learn why cat parents are choosing it as the go-to supplement for their purrs — and how to pick out the best products in this novel niche.
Hemp Oil for Cats: An Overview
For most people, hemp and cats don’t go well together in one sentence. That’s because they associate it with marijuana and fall under the false assumption that hemp will get their cat high.
However, this isn’t the case for hemp, as this variety of cannabis contains around 0.3% of THC (or less) in dry mass.
In simple words, hemp oil is a non-intoxicating, natural product that doesn’t produce any feelings of being high because its chemical makeup doesn’t allow for it.
That being said, hemp oil can have a myriad of health benefits for cats — both for their physical and mental well-being.
To obtain hemp oil, manufacturers use different extraction techniques to pull the desired compounds from the plant matter. The final product has a dark-green color and an earthy-nutty scent.
People have been using hemp oil for centuries. For example, in 1500 BC, the Chinese, Indians, and Egyptians all used it to treat various ailments. In 1800, Europeans also started to embrace its therapeutic potential.
Hemp is considered a superfood that boasts high amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fiber — providing a nutritious boost that your cat can benefit from.
Different Types of Hemp Oil for Cats
Hemp oil is an umbrella term that covers two types of oils — CBD oil and hemp seed oil — depending on which parts of hemp were used for extraction.
As the name implies, this type of hemp oil is extracted from the seeds. You can find two types of hempseed oil — refined and unrefined.
Unrefined hemp seed oil typically has a green color and earthy-nutty aroma and flavor. The color indicates a dense nutritional content. Manufacturers obtain this oil through cold-press extraction.
Once extracted, filtered, and poured into bottles, it has a short life and needs to be refrigerated once you’ve opened it.
Refined hempseed oil is clear due to bleaching and deodorization. It’s often used for body care because it lacks nutritional value.
Speaking of the nutrients, hemp seeds contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, protein, fiber, vitamins, and trace minerals.
CBD Hemp Oil
CBD oil is a therapeutic extract sourced from the mature flowers of hemp. The flowers contain CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — all of which interact with your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is the master regulatory network in all mammals. It regulates homeostasis between other systems and organs throughout the body.
This system controls vital biological processes, such as memory, mood, body temperature, pain perception, appetite, pleasure, fear, immune function, sleep cycles, fertility, neuroprotection, digestion, and more.
Since CBD is the modulator of the ECS, it’s no wonder why it demonstrates such great versatility as a health supplement.
Most people use CBD oil for:
- Neurodegenerative disorders
Cats, too, have an ECS, meaning they can reap similar benefits from taking CBD hemp oil.
What Is Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil for Cats?
Full-spectrum CBD oil is the least processed form of hemp oil. It contains all of the compounds in hemp, including CBD, supportive cannabinoids, terpenes, and traces of THC.
Full-spectrum CBD is the most effective type of hemp oil for cats because it evokes the entourage effect. This mechanism involves all of the aforementioned compounds working together in synergy to boost CBD’s efficacy.
Although some cat parents are concerned about the trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD hemp oil, these amounts aren’t enough to get your cat high. But at the same time, this extra small dose of THC amplifies the entourage effect.
Full-Spectrum vs Broad-Spectrum Hemp Oil
Broad-spectrum CBD is an alternative option for those pet owners who don’t want to give their furry friends any amount of THC alongside CBD hemp oil.
This broad-spectrum type of CBD is similar to full-spectrum, except for the lack of THC. The intoxicating cannabinoid is removed during fractional distillation that takes place once the raw CBD hemp oil has been extracted.
Benefits of Hemp Oil for Cats
Here are some of the noteworthy benefits of hemp oil for cats:
Reduces Anxiety and Nervousness
Many cats are very reactive to stress, which makes them nervous and anxious in situations that humans deem completely normal.
CBD hemp oil can reduce the symptoms of fear and anxiety in cats by signaling the ECS to produce more of its natural cannabinoids; it also interacts with serotonin and GABA receptors to calm the nervous system and stabilize mood.
You can give your cat CBD hemp oil if you’re traveling with them (moving homes) or during a fireworks show.
Provides a Wide Range of Essential Nutrients
Aside from its therapeutic effect on cats, hemp oil can be used as part of their diet. The high nutrient content of hemp seed oil can boost your cat’s well-being, improving their overall quality of life.
Just remember that hemp seed oil and CBD hemp oil aren’t the same, so you’ll need to use them separately in your cat’s routine.
CBD is a potent anti-inflammatory and analgesic. When you give hemp oil to your cat, cannabidiol signals your immune system to stop producing pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase the production of the anti-inflammatory ones — leading to a proper immune response.
When it comes to pain reduction, CBD can also mitigate pain signaling from the neurons to the brain by activating TRPV-1 channels. As a result, pain and other kinds of physical discomfort become more manageable, even cat’s pain in the kidneys, joint arthritis, and more.
Eases Digestion Problems
Hemp oil can significantly improve your pet’s digestion. When it comes to hemp seed oil, the gut-healthy fatty acids, and fiber ensure proper bowel movements (peristalsis). CBD oil can further support these processes by regulating gut activity through the endocannabinoid system.
On top of that, CBD can ease nausea and vomiting by acting on certain receptors in the brain which control these sensations.
Is Hemp Oil Safe for Cats?
Perhaps the best thing about hemp oil is that it’s safe for cats.
Hemp seeds are a known superfood that humans and animals have used for millennia due to their nutritional value.
CBD, on the other hand, has been considered safe and well-tolerated in humans and animals, as shown by a 2017 report from the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, since the hemp market is largely unregulated, pet parents should thoroughly research their potential vendors to make sure that their products are pure and safe for consumption.
The Side Effects of Hemp Oil for Cats
Hemp oil is more difficult to dose in cats than humans because cats are several times smaller than us. So, despite its decent safety profile, it can produce a few benign side effects when your cat takes too much.
Some of the possible side effects of hemp oil for cats include:
- Dry mouth
- Fluctuation of appetite
There’s also a risk of potential CBD-drug interactions. CBD is a potent inhibitor of the CYP450 system, a group of enzymes that metabolizes the majority of pharmaceutical medications.
Depending on the type of interaction, it may lead to either too high or too low concentrations of the drug in your cat’s bloodstream.
In order to avoid such interactions, consult a holistic veterinarian. A knowledgeable vet will help you set the right dosage and routine for both compounds so these interactions don’t occur.
How to Choose the Best Hemp Oil for Cats
With so many manufacturers on the market, choosing the best CBD oil for cats can be overwhelming. And considering that the market is unregulated, you might accidentally buy a mislabeled product.
But don’t worry, you can easily weed out poorly manufactured products from high-quality hemp oils by looking at the following parameters:
Organic Hemp Source
Hemp plants are dynamic bioaccumulators, meaning they absorb everything from their environment — including both the good and the bad substances. The best hemp oils for cats are sourced from organic hemp. Such plants are grown in clean, nutrient-rich soil, and without pesticides or herbicides.
Hemp should be pesticide-free because long-term exposure to these toxins may harm your cat’s nervous and immune system. There’s even a risk that pesticides will trigger autoimmune conditions.
Natural ingredients are paramount if you want to get the most out of the benefits of hemp oil for your cat. Some brands add artificial flavorings and other additives to mask the hempy flavor of the oil; others will infuse their products with preservatives to extend their shelf life — all at the cost of the product’s quality. Studies have linked synthetic additives in food to various diseases in humans and animals, including autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, metabolic conditions, and even cancer.
Certificates of Analysis
Third-party testing is especially important when it comes to CBD oils. The CBD market isn’t regulated by the FDA, so manufacturers can put virtually anything in their hemp oils for cats, including contaminated hemp or the aforementioned synthetic additives.
The only way to prove that your product is safe is to look at the Certificate of Analysis. Hemp companies have an option to send samples of their products to an independent laboratory for testing. These labs analyze the chemical makeup of the oil, including CBD potency and purity.
The certificates of analysis should be up-to-date and readily available for customers on the company’s website.
Customer reviews and testimonials can give you a gist of real-life experiences from other people. Reputable brands have a lot of positive reviews about the quality of their products and their customer service. Be wary of companies that have little to no online presence, or a lot of negative reviews on third-party websites.
How Much Hemp Oil Should I Give My Cat?
Due to the lack of regulations from the FDA, there are currently no official dosage guidelines or charts for CBD.
Manufacturers of CBD hemp oil usually provide their own dosage recommendations and serving sizes based on different weight groups.
We recommend calculating the right dosage of hemp oil for your cat based on its weight. Start giving the cat about 0.25 mg of CBD per pound of body weight for a regular dose. So, if your cat weighs 10 pounds, you’ll want to measure out 2.5 mg of CBD oil from the bottle.
For a stronger dose, you can use amounts such as 0.5 mg of CBD per pound. In the case of a 10-pound cat, you’ll need to give him 5 mg of CBD for more pronounced effects.
As for the hemp seed oil, consult the dosage with your veterinarian or a pet dietician. Keep in mind that this product is high in fats, so it also carries plenty of calories. Giving your cat too much hemp seed oil can result in unwanted weight gain.
Key Takeaways on Using Hemp Oil for Cats
Although many cat parents are concerned about giving their furry friends cannabis — due to misconceptions about hemp and marijuana being the same thing — hemp oil and other hemp-derived supplements hold great potential to improve feline health.
There are two types of hemp oil — hempseed oil and CBD oil, both of which serve different purposes. Hempseed oil is used mainly for nutrition, while CBD oil regulates different physiological functions in your cat by interacting with its endocannabinoid system. This makes CBD oil more of a therapeutic substance rather than a food item.
Cats can benefit from hemp oil for anxiety, nervousness, physical discomfort, immune dysfunction, nausea, vomiting, and poor appetite. CBD is also a powerful anticonvulsant, making it a useful tool for managing seizures in cats.
If you’re looking for high-quality CBD hemp oil for cats, be sure to choose companies that make their products with organic hemp, use all-natural ingredients, and provide batch-specific lab reports for potency and purity.
- Zou, S., & Kumar, U. (2018). Cannabinoid Receptors and the Endocannabinoid System: Signaling and Function in the Central Nervous System. International journal of molecular sciences, 19(3), 833. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms19030833 
- De Gregorio, D., McLaughlin, R. J., Posa, L., Ochoa-Sanchez, R., Enns, J., Lopez-Canul, M., Aboud, M., Maione, S., Comai, S., & Gobbi, G. (2019). Cannabidiol modulates serotonergic transmission and reverses both allodynia and anxiety-like behavior in a model of neuropathic pain. Pain, 160(1), 136–150. https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001386 
- Bakas, T., van Nieuwenhuijzen, P. S., Devenish, S. O., McGregor, I. S., Arnold, J. C., & Chebib, M. (2017). The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAAreceptors. Pharmacological research, 119, 358–370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2017.02.022 
- Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021 
- Russo E. B. (2008). Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain. Therapeutics and clinical risk management, 4(1), 245–259. https://doi.org/10.2147/tcrm.s1928 
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Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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Is CBD Oil Good for Cats?
Adrienne Kruzer is a veterinary technician with more than 15 years of experience providing healthcare to domestic and exotic animals. She is trained as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, is an accomplished veterinarian and writer with more than 25 years of experience in veterinary medicine, animal welfare, and conservation. She participates in The Spruce Pets’ veterinary review board and is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
CBD has grown in popularity for use in humans, dogs, and even cats, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding its use. Pet owners need to know what it might be useful for, whether or not it is legal, and the difference between hemp, CBD, Cannabis, marijuana, and THC. Knowing whether or not a product is safe, effective, and legal for a pet cat to use is of utmost importance in order to avoid harming your pet or breaking the law.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Cats?
There is unfortunately little research that has been done on the effects of CBD in cats. Based on anecdotal reports and limited study, CBD does appear to be safe for cats, but its effectivenss for the treatment of any condition has not yet been proven. Until more research has been done showing that CBD is in fact safe and effective, it is only prudent to use it under veterinary supervision.
What Is CBD Oil?
CBD is actually an abbreviation for cannabidiol, and cannabidiol is a phytocannabinoid, or specific type of molecule, that is made by and extracted from Cannabis plants. When extracted, CBD can be included in an oil that can be given orally to cats. It often contains coconut, hempseed, olive, avocado, or palm oil that acts as a carrier oil, similar to how many essential oils are made.
What Is the Difference Between CBD and Hemp Oil?
CBD and hemp oil are often confused with one another because both are sourced from Cannabis plants. Hemp oil may or may not contain significant amounts of CBD, but it is always extracted from a specific strain of Cannabis sativa called hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC, the phytocannabinoid that is responsible for the high of marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, can be extracted from either marijuana or hemp, although hemp-derived CBD is far more common.
Does CBD Oil Contain THC?
THC is the abbreviation for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and is the psychoactive component of marijuana. Marijuana plants contain significant amounts of THC; hemp plants do not. Many people who want to use CBD oil specifically look for THC-free or low THC CBD oils, which is why they are usually purchasing hemp-derived CBD. Any product containing significant levels of THC (higher than 0.3%) should not be administered to cats and may pose safety concerns.
Is CBD Found in Marijuana?
CBD can be derived from marijuana plants, but most growers are more concerned about the THC content. Marijuana should never be administered to cats regardless of how much CBD is in it. Hemp-derived CBD is legal and safer for cats than marijuana-derived CBD.
Why Is CBD Oil Popular for Cats?
Cat owners want to give their pets safe and effective treatment options, and some medications may have negative side effects or not work well enough to help their cat’s specific issues. The anecdotal, media, and early scientific success of CBD oil in people and dogs has caused it to grow in popularity for use in cats, too. Some owners report major successes in treating a variety of ailments in their dogs that were taking CBD oil after being unable to achieve it using other products. However, it’s important to remember that cats and dogs process medications and supplements very differently, and the safety and effectiveness of CBD is still being researched in cats.
Risks and Concerns in Using CBD Oil in Cats
Since there really isn’t any research that has been done supporting the safe use of CBD in cats, there is a lot still unknown. Whether or not there are side effects, especially with long-term use, the efficacy for use in supporting a variety of bodily systems, contraindications with medications, and administration amounts for specific uses in cats still need to be studied.
In addition to the lack of research, another concern with CBD oil is finding a consistent and pure source. There is almost no regulation over the manufacture of CBD so widely-available products may contain little to no active ingredient and/or be contaminated with potentially harmful substances. Consumers should talk to their veterinarian and look for a company with strict quality control measure to ensure products meet label claims before giving CBD to their cats.