Hemp Oil for Dogs: Benefits and Uses
When it comes to dog wellness trends, cannabidiol (better known as CBD) leads the pack. Hemp oil for dogs has exploded in popularity. Research shows that the market for hemp-derived pet supplies is estimated to reach $125 million in 2022, making it one of the fastest growing segments of the CBD products market.
Pet owners are giving hemp oil to their dogs to address a range of health and wellness needs from pain to anxiety.
“Hemp oil is a great way for pet owners to get started on a holistic path,” says Dr. Marcie Fallek, a holistic veterinarian at Animal Natural Healing Center in New York.
Hemp Oil vs. Hemp Seed Oil
When you start shopping for hemp oil for your dog, you’ll notice there are two different phrases used on the label: hemp oil and hempseed (or hemp seed) oil.
Both oils come from the hemp plant and are made from pressing the oil out of the plant matter, but different parts of the plant are used to create each oil.
Hemp oil, also known as CBD oil (and sometimes called full spectrum hemp oil or broad spectrum hemp oil) is made from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of Cannabis sativa plants. It contains cannabidiol or CBD, which is the compound that has been shown to have health benefits for both pets and humans.
Hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. Although the seeds were once believed to not to be a source of CBD, new research shows that, depending on the processing, hemp seed oil can contain up to 30 different cannabinoids. CBD levels are lower in hemp seed oil than in hemp oil.
Both hemp oil and hemp seed oil also contain plant compounds such as terpenes and phenols that offer additional health benefits, according to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian with California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness in Los Angeles.
“If a pet owner had a concern about CBD going into their pets and just wanted some of the benefits from the plant, I’d recommend hemp seed oil over hemp oil,” Mahaney says.
Benefits of Hemp Oil for Dogs
A growing number of studies have examined the potential benefits of hemp oil for dogs. Research has found that hemp oils with CBD helped to:
To control chronic issues like seizures or osteoarthritis, Mahaney recommends using hemp oil once or twice per day. It can be offered as needed for acute anxiety-triggered by events such as fireworks, thunderstorms or appointments with the vet or groomer. You’ll need to plan ahead to make sure the CBD oil has time to kick in before the anxiety-producing event.
“It generally takes about an hour or so to have a therapeutic effect,” Mahaney adds.
Is Hemp Oil Safe for Dogs?
Hemp oil is considered safe for dogs. Although some hemp oils contain CBD and small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the concentrations are extremely low. These are not psychoactive products and will not cause dogs to feel “high.”
Check the label to ensure that hemp oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC. Mahaney notes that a dose this low is “improbable to show traditional signs of marijuana toxicity” such as whimpering, disorientation, and unsteadiness while standing.
Some pet owners have reported side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, and lethargy after ingesting CBD oil. However most dogs do not experience side effects or require veterinary treatment. In studies that examined the effectiveness of hemp oil for osteoarthritis, no side effects were reported.
Fallek has worked with countless pet owners who use hemp oil and adds, “I’ve never seen or heard of any side effects.”
How to Use Hemp Oil for Dogs
Hemp oil is sold as an oil (called a tincture) and added to soft chews or other treats. These hemp oil products are available with and without CBD.
Hemp oil in tincture form comes with a dropper that can be used to give a precise dose to pets. You can use the dropper to put the oil under their tongue or against their cheek, which is considered the gold standard for accurate, effective dosing. If your dog is uncomfortable taking the hemp oil in this manner, it can be drizzled on a treat or your dog’s food.
You can also purchase soft chews or capsules containing hemp oil. The flavoring in the treats help mask the taste of the hemp oil. Hemp oil treats for dogs are also easier to give on-the-go than a dropper full of hemp oil. However, these non-liquid products are not absorbed in the same way as traditional hemp oils.
“[Hemp oil] is better absorbed through the mouth and gums,” Mahaney says. “If you give your pet hemp oil chews or a capsule or put a tincture on their food, it’s going to be primarily absorbed through the small intestines. Those products still work but the absorption might not be as good as we would like and it might take longer to take effect.”
In general, treats also contain lower amounts of active ingredients like CBD than hemp oil tinctures.
Best Hemp Oil for Dogs
With the sheer number of different hemp oils for dogs available at pet stores and online, it can be difficult to choose a product. Here are a few of our favorite picks.
Best Organic Hemp Oil for Dogs
We are big fans of the organic hemp oil for dogs from The Anxious Pet. It contains full-spectrum CBD and fractionated coconut oil for a smooth and safe delivery system. This hemp oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC and is tested by a third-party laboratory to guarantee quality, potency, and purity. Plus, it’s veterinarian formulated, so you know it’s beneficial and healthy for your pup.
- Made from organic hemp extract that contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
- Contains CBD.
- The full-spectrum oil is made from all parts of the plant, boosting the cannabinoids and terpene content for maximum benefit.
- Veterinarian-formulated and lab tested.
- 60-day money-back guarantee.
Best Calming CBD Oil for Dogs
Hoping to calm your nervous pooch? Honest Paws’ premium organic product contains full-spectrum hemp oil with naturally occurring CBD and chamomile. Chamomile has been used for thousands of years to promote calmer, happier moods and promote healthy brain function. Coupled with Honest Paws’ third-party tested full-spectrum CBD hemp oil and 30-day money back guarantee, this formula ranks high on our list.
- Contains no GMOs, corn, soy, or other contaminants.
- Third-party tested for purity and potency
- Available in a variety of formulas depending on your dog’s weight
- Contains no additives that may be toxic to pets
- Promotes relaxation in your dog
- May help relieve occasional aches and discomfort in dogs
Best Flavored Hemp Oil for Dogs
Not all dogs love the taste of hemp oil—it’s a bit earthy and may be unappealing for picky pups. But this hemp oil from Huggibles is cookie flavored and dogs go crazy for the taste. This makes giving the oil to dogs directly a breeze. It delivers on the benefits of hemp and helps with increased mobility, stress relief, and skin and coat health.
- Made with organic hemp seed oil.
- Formulated with Omega-3 and Omega-6.
- Cookie flavored.
- Clear dropper for precise dosing.
Best Hemp Seed Oil for Dogs
If you’re looking for a non-CBD hemp oil option for dogs, then this hemp seed oil from NaturVet is a great choice. This product offers all the benefits from the seeds of the hemp plant along with salmon and krill oil for ultimate skin and coat health. Because of the fish oils, most dogs really enjoy the flavor of this product and it won’t be difficult to get them to ingest it. It’s safe for dogs over 12 weeks of age and can even be given to cats too.
Does CBD Work for Dogs?
Topper, a 7-year-old Ibizan Hound, could hardly walk after being diagnosed with severe arthritic changes due to Valley fever. “The pain became so debilitating he had to be carried outside to eat, drink, or use the bathroom,” recalls owner Christy Moore. “He was on pain medication but it wasn’t working. A friend recommended pet CBD. Within three days he could walk on all four legs and I was crying tears of joy. It was the miracle we needed.”
Lady Amelthia, a Greyhound, was so petrified of thunderstorms she would destroy a crate to escape. “Holding her only made her claw to get away. A ThunderShirt reduced her from 100 to 90 on the anxiety scale,” recalls owner Jenn Boswell, director of the Alabama Greyhound Adoption Center. “Veterinary-prescribed trazodone took it down to a 50. Tried three drops of CBD oil and it went down to a 5.”
Success stories abound of dogs overcoming anxiety, slowing seizures, and even beating cancer due to cannabidiol (CBD), one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. But how can one substance help so many unrelated problems? Or can it?
Cannabinoids are substances including CBD and THC that mimic the endocannabinoid chemicals naturally produced in all vertebrates. Receptors for endocannabinoids are found throughout the body. The body’s endocannabinoids act as master regulators that signal other systems when to speed up or slow down, working to stabilize the body and return it to homeostasis. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant affect these same receptors, each in slightly different ways. For example, THC causes a high, while CBD does not.
Is It Harmful?
Unlike THC, which can cause toxicity and even death in dogs when given at prescribed human dosages, the worst CBD has been documented to do is cause diarrhea and changes in some liver enzyme values after several weeks. The main concern with CBD is that it inhibits a chemical in the body called cytochrome P450 that is responsible for metabolizing most drugs. If a drug’s efficacy depends on its metabolized product, CBD could render it less effective. If a drug’s safety depends on it being cleared from the body within a certain time frame, CBD could cause it to build up to toxic levels. Never give your dog CBD without your veterinarian’s knowledge if your dog is taking other drugs.
Does It Work?
Research with dogs is still scarce, but there’s a huge body of research (about 23,000 published papers!) looking at CBD’s effect on laboratory animals and humans, with encouraging results for pain, especially arthritic pain, itchiness, anxiety, and cancer, all of which have at least one canine study as well. The results in dogs? It depends.
Arthritis: Several studies have looked at CBD’s effectiveness against arthritic pain, all with positive results. A Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine study found dogs given CBD at a rate of 4.4 mg per pound twice daily for a month showed significant improvement in pain relief and quality of life. Lead investigator Joe Wakshlag, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, said that some dogs were initially so decrepit that their owners considered euthanasia, but that after just days on CBD they were trotting around and even climbing stairs. A Baylor University study found similar improvement, adding that CBD worked better when delivered in a liposomal formulation.
Itchiness: Two recent double-blind, placebo-controlled dog studies report CBD significantly reduces itchiness. An Australian study conducted by the company CannPal found their CBD product reduced itchiness, inflammation, and skin lesions by 51 percent after eight weeks of treatment. An American study conducted by the company ElleVet found their product, which combines CBD with another cannabinoid, CBDA, significantly reduced owners’ reports of itchiness.
Cancer: Cannabinoids are reported to induce cancer-cell death and prevent metastasis. In a Cornell University study of CBD, dogs, and cancer, researchers found CBD along with a standard chemotherapy drug reduced cancer-cell proliferation in vitro more than the chemotherapy drug alone. Anecdotal reports from veterinarians have claimed CBD shrunk cancer cells or put dogs into remission.
Behavior: Anxiety, and especially noise reactivity, is a major reason dog owners seek help using CBD. But despite anecdotal reports of its effectiveness, no controlled study so far has shown it to be particularly effective. A study from the University of Western Australia may show promise for aggressive behavior. Shelter dogs with aggressive tendencies exhibited less aggression toward humans when tested after 15 days of CBD administration. In a study from the University of Kentucky, physiological measurements of anxiety in response to noise were not significantly different for CBD versus placebo, and were worse compared to trazodone (a drug commonly prescribed for anxiety). Note, however, that in this study the CBD was administered four to six hours before testing, which may have been too long a waiting period.
Seizures: Lots of anecdotal reports hail CBD’s success combatting seizures in dogs, but the single controlled study delivered moderate results. In this Colorado State University study, dogs given CBD for 12 weeks had 33 percent fewer seizures than those given a placebo, but it didn’t work for every dog. These researchers are now working on a larger trial using higher CBD doses. Note that THC has been reported to cause seizures, so it should never be included in any CBD product for seizure control. In addition, CBD’s effect on cytochrome P450 could interfere with prescribed anti-seizure drugs, so never use it without your veterinarian’s consent.
Other: There’s also evidence from laboratory animals that CBD is effective in promoting bone healing, fighting infection, treating inflammatory bowel disease, slowing degenerative myelopathy, quelling nausea, and relieving pain, but these have yet to be specifically examined in dogs.
How to Choose CBD For Dogs?
With hundreds of CBD products on the market, and little regulation of them, it’s not easy to know which is best. Look for a product with the National Animal Supplement Counsel (NASC) Seal of Quality Assurance, and one that has a third-party certificate of analysis that includes potency, lists all ingredients, and discloses the possible presence of heavy metals, mycotoxins, or pesticides. Avoid edible products formulated for human consumption, which often contain ingredients such as xylitol that are toxic to pets.
Choose broad-spectrum products, which include other cannabinoids and substances known as terpenes that are also in the cannabis plant. CBD seems to work best when it’s in conjunction with these rather than isolated. But avoid full-spectrum products that include THC.
Aim for about 0.1 to 0.2 mg per kilogram of your dog’s weight, given twice daily by mouth. Work up gradually, but beware that more is not always better with CBD, as sometimes the response is biphasic, meaning that it doesn’t work if you give too little or too much.
Is It Legal?
Many veterinarians are reluctant to suggest CBD, whether because they believe CBD is not yet sufficiently proven helpful or because they fear professional or legal repercussions. CBD products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for dogs, but neither are common supplements such as glucosamine or fish oil; nor the majority of human-approved prescription drugs routinely prescribed in veterinary practice.
While it is legal to sell hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 percent THC, until recently the American Veterinary Medical Association did not approve of veterinarians suggesting any cannabis products, including CBD, for patients. Even now, the law is unclear enough that many veterinarians fear repercussions if something went wrong due to their suggestion of CBD.
While some veterinarians are hesitant to suggest CBD, almost all are eager to discuss it once you bring it up. Of course, some veterinarians are more versed in its pros and cons than others. The main concern is its possible interaction with prescribed drugs.
Overall, the evidence is compelling that CBD can help at least some conditions. The endocannabinoid system is the largest system in the body, and the least explored. Every year brings new discoveries—and new claims. It’s the beginning of a brave new world of health, but as with any new path, expect some wrong turns, dead ends, and false hopes. CBD is not a miracle drug, but it may be the miracle your dog needs.
This article originally appeared in the award-winning AKC Family Dog magazine. Subscribe today!
Yes, You Can Give Your Pets ‘Human’ CBD Oil
Can I give my pet human CBD oil? Any CBD oils that contain less than 0.3% THC is safe for your dog or cat. It doesn’t need to be a pet-specific oil to work.
We often get asked, “Is it safe to give ‘human’ CBD to my dog? What’s the difference between human and pet CBD oil?”
You know CBD is a natural option to help with anxiety, pain, and inflammation… for humans. The compound is non-addictive, non-toxic, and all-natural.
So, when your little friend started having health issues, and drugs didn’t help, you started wondering — ‘what if I give my pet some of the CBD oil I’ve been using?’
It sounds like a tough call, but we’ve got the answers. Let’s take a look at the veterinarian research on the safety of using CBD for pets and whether or not you can give your pet “human” CBD oil.
Let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- Can I Give My Dog or Cat “Human” CBD Oil?
- Pet CBD Oil vs. Regular CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?
- Average Price Comparison of CBD Oils for Humans Vs. Pet Oils
- 1. CBD May Help Dogs With Osteoarthritis (OS)
- 2. CBD May Reduce Epileptic Seizures in Dogs
Can I Give My Dog or Cat “Human” CBD Oil?
The simple answer is yes — it’s safe to give your pet CBD meant for human consumption — with a few key caveats:
- Don’t give your pets any cannabis oil with more than 0.3% THC (0.2% in Europe)
- Use smaller doses than what’s recommended on the bottle
- Speak with your vet before giving your animal CBD if they have any underlying health concerns
All animals have an endocannabinoid system — including some of the most primitive animals like the sea-squirt. This means that animals also have cannabinoid receptors, a key part of the endocannabinoid system, just like humans do.
Although animals might process CBD in a different way (which is still under research), they have the necessary mechanisms to receive the benefits of CBD. Cannabidiol may be able to relieve pain, inflammation, and anxiety in animals, just like in humans.
But, there are some things you need to know before giving your pet CBD meant for human consumption.
Pet CBD Oil vs. Regular CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?
In essence, CBD is CBD. The extraction process for both animal and human CBD is the same — both types should be derived from clean, organic cannabis, and contain less than 0.3% THC (0.2% in Europe).
So, CBD products meant for humans is essentially the same thing as CBD oil for pets — with few minor differences in potency and flavor options.
What Kind of CBD Oil Can I Give My Pet?
Not all types of CBD oils are created equal. But, as long as you’re using THC-free, hemp-derived CBD isolate — you can give your pet the same CBD oil that you’re using.
1. Always Use THC-Free CBD Products
It’s common for pets to end up at the vet as a result of marijuana toxicosis after consuming the marijuana stash of their owners. On the other hand, pets with health issues such as arthritis, cancer, and other chronic conditions can use a controlled dose of medical cannabis to relieve symptoms.
Some studies show that THC has low toxicity in animals, while others report fatal cases of marijuana use in pets [1,2]. It all comes down to the individual dose.
The case for giving your pet CBD oil that contains THC is under investigation. Although your pet might benefit from some THC, you should avoid giving your pet marijuana oils with high levels of THC. You should stick to pure, THC-free CBD or hemp oil instead just to be safe.
CBD oil with less than 0.3 percent THC is widely considered safe — it won’t harm your pet.
But a high dose could cause side-effects in smaller animals. This could be an issue because of the unregulated CBD oil market — the levels of THC in a full-spectrum CBD oil for human consumption might be higher than officially claimed by the company.
Another issue is the terpenes present in both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD oil for human consumption. Terpenes such as limonene, peppermint, pine, or tea tree, are essential oils found in a variety of plants — including marijuana and hemp — can be harmful to pets, even in small amounts.
Here are the three main types of CBD oil for human consumption you will encounter: