With the increasing popularity of CBD, marijuana, sativa, hemp, and other natural plant-based products, some pet owners may wonder about using it for their dogs. Is it safe? Is it legal? What can it do for my dog? The short answer is that hemp oil can be beneficial, with a few caveats.
This article will focus on the benefits of hemp oil for dogs, when to give it, and how much is safe?
What Is Hemp Oil?
First, it’s helpful to understand what hemp oil is and how it differs from other plant-based products on the market. Hemp oil has been used for thousands of years as a natural medicine and supplement for humans and animals. It comes from the seeds of the hemp plant, and contain little to no CBD or THC, although people often confuse these products. You can buy it over the counter at most drug and health food stores, but it’s best to buy one specifically formulated for dogs.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil
Hemp oil isn’t CBD, even though they’re derived from the same plant and people often use the terms interchangeably. While hemp oil comes from the seeds, CBD comes from the leaves, buds, and stalks. For this reason, when purchasing hemp products for your dog it’s important to note if the hemp oil you’re buying comes from the seed or the other parts of the hemp plant.
Many brands confuse hemp oil with CBD, so your best bet is to buy products with “seed” in the title, like hempseed oil. They’re very different products with separate uses. CBD can treat a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, pain, and seizures. On the other hand, hemp oil is a nutritional supplement and can be used against arthritis, cancer, toxins, and aging.
Hemp oil is perfectly safe for your dog and is certainly legal. It’s not psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t have any mind-altering effects and won’t get your dog high. This is because it doesn’t contain THC, the substance affiliated with marijuana. Marijuana and hemp are both part of the cannabis family, but aren’t the same substance.
Equating hemp with marijuana is like comparing fish and chicken – although they’re both sources of animal protein, you may be allergic to one but not the other, you may prefer one over the other, and they come from completely different places and have their own distinct flavors and uses.
What Are the Benefits of Hemp Oil for Dogs?
The benefits of hemp oil for dogs are similar to its benefits for humans:
1. Perfect Omega 6 to Omega 3 Ratio
Most people give their dog fish oil if they’re looking to add omegas to their dog’s diet, but there has been evidence of fish oil causing health problems for dogs due to its instability and how quickly it goes bad. Hemp oil is a much safer way to feed your dog these healthy fats.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 can prevent anxiety, digestion issues, allergies, arthritis, and cancer. They help your dog have a healthy blood flow and generally improves organ functioning. They’re also great for making your dog’s coat healthy, luscious and glossy. This is beneficial not only for vanity purposes, but also helps decrease shedding and dandruff.
2. Great Source of Antioxidants and Phospholipids
Your dog can be exposed to free radicals from toxins in chemicals, processed foods, pollution, and some medications. The antioxidants in hemp oil boost your dog’s immune system and help him fight off the damaging effects of free radicals. This may prevent cancer and is great for his heart, eyes, skin, and brain.
Phospholipids help form the protective layer around cells. They work to decrease inflammation and so are useful in managing arthritis and inflammation. Phospholipids also improve brain function, reduce the risk of heart disease, and boost the immune system.
Gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, helps build prostaglandins, which are similar to hormones and support a number of bodily functions, reduce cancer cells and is useful in weight management. GLA may even ease arthritis and skin allergies and boost the immune system.
When Should I Give My Dog Hemp Oil?
Your vet may recommend hemp oil for your dog as a dietary supplement, or you may notice some things about your dog and his diet that point to a need for hemp oil:
- If your dog has separation anxiety or other anxiety disorder (such as fear of thunderstorms or long travels), hemp oil can help calm his nerves.
- If your dog has dandruff or a lackluster coat, hemp oil can help thicken his fur and heal his skin.
- If your dog suffers from painful joints, arthritis, or other issues caused by inflammation, giving your dog hemp oil may help alleviate his symptoms.
- If you live in an environment where your dog is constantly exposed to toxins (such as in a big city or a farm that uses pesticides), hemp oil can help your dog fight free radicals.
- If your dog has cancer, hemp oil is proven to boost cells that prevent cancer and slow the growth of cancer cells.
- If your dog is older, hemp oil can help fight damaging signs of aging and keep his mind sharp.
- If your dog’s diet is high in beef, but not in fish (which contains many of the same benefits as hemp oil) or chicken (which can cause an imbalance in your dog’s diet when combined with hemp oil), then he may need hemp oil to get all his nutrients.
How Much Hemp Oil Should I Give My Dog?
Always check with your vet before introducing any changes to your dog’s diet, including whether or not you should give your dog hemp oil and how much.
Since different products come in different concentrations, it’s best to follow directions according to the packaging on the product. That way, you can be sure to give your dog the correct size dose for his weight.
Is There Any Reason Not to Give My Dog Hemp Oil?
If your dog’s diet is high in chicken, don’t give him a hemp oil supplement. Both chicken and hemp oil contain a lot of polyunsaturated fats, so combining them can create an imbalance in your dog’s diet. In case you feed your dog a lot of chicken or his wet or dry food contains chicken, try supplementing his diet with flaxseed oil or cooked fish instead.
Also, don’t use hemp oil to cook for your dog because heat can make the oil rancid and therefore toxic. If you notice signs of illness in your dog after feeding him hemp oil, such as acting lethargic or refusing to eat, discontinue use and talk to your vet.