There has been a recent surge of interest around CBD and hemp oil alike, however, this can make it confusing, especially with the sheer volume of products available today.
Read on to learn about the distinction between CBD and hemp oil and the benefits that each one can have for your canine.
CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil
First, it is important to make a clear distinction between CBD oil and hemp oil, as a better understanding of the two allows for more educated and safer choices. Common confusion arises with the use of the words “hemp oil,” as it is often used both to describe CBD and hemp seed oil.
CBD oil has a higher concentration of CBD, as it uses the leaves, stalks and flowers of the hemp plant in its production. Contrastingly, hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant, which do not contain CBD but may have many nutritional benefits.
What is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural, popular remedy used for many common ailments. It is one of over 60 cannabinoid compounds found in the hemp plant. CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is present in nearly all mammals, including canines and felines.
The ECS contains an assortment of cannabinoid, endocannabinoid receptors and enzymes responsible for their maintenance. The most notable of them are the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found in high quantities in our central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are commonly found in the bodies' immune cells and gastrointestinal tract.
Much of the stigma surrounding CBD comes from the supposed psychoactive risks such as increased anxiety and psychotic symptoms. This is actually associated with THC (another cannabinoid receptor), as CBD is generally considered safe and “well tolerated.” Research aiming to investigate such side effects ended up finding that CBD may in fact have a therapeutic effect against psychosis, though further investigation of this is needed.
What is hemp oil?
Hemp oil is derived from cold pressing seeds of the hemp plant, which have no THC and little to no CBD. Hemp seed oil is FDA-approved and legal to sell and buy as a common nutritional supplement for both humans and pets.
Many of the positive effects associated with hemp seed oil are due to its fatty acid content, with a ratio of 3:1 (omega-6 to omega-3), which experts agree is ideal for health benefits in humans, however, this ratio varies drastically among dogs. As well as containing omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, γ-linolenic acid and various nutritious antioxidants, it is also high in vitamin D and many B vitamins.
While it is often recommended as safe for pet consumption, it is important to talk to your veterinarian before making any decisions. According to the National Research Council, too much vitamin D for your pet daily (exceeding 3.4 micrograms) can cause anorexia; weakness, and vomiting. It is important to be aware that supplements, including fatty acid supplements, can have adverse side effects.
Benefits of CBD
Research surrounding the efficacy of CBD oil for canine-related disorders is limited, however, this is what we know so far.
Osteoarthritis and inflammation
Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition which causes the cartilage in your dog’s joints to deteriorate. The joint is left open to pain and damage from the gradual loss of cartilage due to its role in the protection and shock absorption. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, meaning that as time progresses the disease worsens. This can leave your dog in pain, with range of movement limited.
In such cases, CBD may be able to help. Multiple studies have highlighted CBD can be used to try and improve osteoarthritis symptoms in dogs. In these studies, it was observed that CBD oil led to an improvement in mobility, activity, and pain levels. CBD may be a promising therapeutic treatment of osteoarthritis and inflammation alike, however, more research in this area is needed to be sure.
Seeing your dog in pain can be one of the worst feelings, and often it is not until the pain is severe that we notice. It’s important for this reason to know the signs that your dog might be in discomfort.
Some signs include:
less active than usual
excessive licking in one area
shallow, rapid breathing
CBD oil for pets may function as a pain reliever by increasing the effects of serotonin.
A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled burst of electrical activity between brain cells. These cause temporary abnormalities in muscle tonation (tension) or movements. Idiopathic epilepsy is one of the most common seizure disorders in dogs.
A recent study found that, in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy, CBD oil reduced the frequency of seizures by 33%. Additionally, it reported that there had been no negative behavioral side effects from the CBD treatment.
While more research is needed to understand the mechanism behind this interaction, CBD looks promising for the treatment of seizure disorders in the near future.
Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil
Unlike CBD, what we know of hemp seed oil is often limited to what we know of human health, so more research is needed in this area. Hemp oil is generally considered safe for pets, but you should always get the go-ahead from your vet before you add it to your pet’s diet.
Hemp seed oil is considered a nutritional supplement. While it doesn’t contain any CBD, it is filled with nutritional properties that can aid in supporting your pet’s health. One key aspect is that they are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. The National Research Council (NRC) recommends a ratio sitting around 2.6:1 to 26:1 omega-6 to omega-3 for healthy dogs. Here are some examples of the importance of omega fatty acids:
Promotes healthy joints and hips
Supports skin and coat health
Helps with heart health and the immune system
Hemp seed oil also contains Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids for dogs as well as humans. GLA may help pups with allergies (inflammation), skin, mobility and digestive issues. It may also promote healthy weight management and a healthy coat. As well as this, hemp seed oil provides a sufficient supply of antioxidants (Vit. E), calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and more.
While nutritional supplementation is generally harmless, talk to your vet. Discussion about your pets’ daily vitamins and minerals is crucial, as it is possible to have too much, especially in the case of fat-soluble vitamins.
Is CBD oil safe for dogs?
CBD oil is considered safe for dogs, although it would be wise to consult with your vet as there may be some side effects associated with its usage. Some CBD for example may contain small amounts of THC, so check the label to ensure that your CBD oil contains less than 0.3 percent to ensure the dose is well below the threshold of “toxicity”. While levels of THC and the subsequent risk of toxicity in CBD are extremely low, it is important to note that any rise in THC can be harmful to your pet.
Some pet owners have reported side effects such as lack of appetite, lethargy and vomiting after ingesting CBD.
Selecting quality CBD oil
As with any product, it is important to research the product's quality and reliability, since not all CBD oil is created the same. In particular, with pets, since THC is toxic at a certain dosage, misjudgment of the ingredients can be particularly harmful.
Here are some things to think about:
Most popular and trustworthy sources of CBD will have a Certificate of Analysis (COA). Importantly, this will indicate that the THC content does not exceed 0.3% and is well below the lethal dose for dogs. A COA will also contain important lab results – third-party lab analysis is generally more trustworthy than “in-house.”
Free of contaminants
Given that the cannabis plant is an effective bio accumulator, the presence of metals and chemicals in its surrounding environment will be readily absorbed. Pesticides, molds and heavy metals can be very harmful. Standard and trusted quality checks such as COA go a long way in detecting whether plants are grown safely.
Lawsuits and FDA warning letters etc. are a big red flag in companies selling CBD oil. A quality company will also be transparent about where and how they grow their hemp.
Safety and side effects
The safety risks associated with the use of CBD for dogs is not well researched. The FDA has not approved CBD or issued a dosing chart. Therefore, it is hard to gauge which dosage may be right. It is important to monitor your pet’s health and some pet owners have noted the following side effects.
Lowered blood pressure
If you and your veterinarian decide to try CBD, be sure to check the quality of the CBD oil and start on a low dosage first. Dosage escalations are considered safe in small increments.
The bottom line
If you are considering either CBD oil or hemp seed oil for your dog, it is important that you speak with your veterinarian before making any decisions.
The limited research available supports the notion that both CBD tand hemp seed oil may be beneficial in their own way, however, further investigation of this is needed.