Is Hemp Oil Good for Dogs? Benefits, Effects & Risks to Know

Improving your dog’s health can be a big task. There are a range of different ways you can do so. This might include dietary changes, exercise and products like CBD oil for dogs. It’s becoming more and more obvious of the benefits that hemp oil delivers to our furry friends. Many pets are able to use and benefit from this cutting edge health booster. But there are still many clear questions. Is it safe? How do I use it for my dog? Well good news – we’re here to help.

Our in depth guide here will run you through how hemp extract can help your pup and why you should consider it for your dog’s wellbeing. We’ll also cover how to use it, important safety precautions and side effects you need to be aware of.

Is CBD Oil good for dogs?

We don’t fully know yet – but anecdotes from owners are promising. Research into the effects of it on dogs is ongoing. There are many promising results being formed and published. However much is yet to be learned. We know that it functions on the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system in dogs. This system is linked to immune, sleep, mood and cardiovascular function. Hemp oil activates it, resulting in strong anti-inflammatory endocannabinoid enzymes being released. 

These enzymes are also therapeutic and can assist with calming dogs who may be anxious. The endogenous cannabinoids bind with the CB1 and CB2 receptors. Using a broad spectrum oil will mean the minor cannabinoids like CBN and CBC can also bind to the receptors. When doing so it enhances the overall effects of the oil on the pet. This is known as the entourage effect and improves the effectiveness of dosing.

Dogs can also enrich their diet with hemp seed oil. It’s high in antioxidant phytocannabinoids like terpenes plus has beta carotene and vitamin E. These are all great for your pup’s wellbeing. Yet while there is still limited clinical studies on CBD for dogs, we are starting to see green shoots of evidence of its benefits. There are already a huge number of studies that have shown this product can help with anxiety, arthritis, stress, sleep, mood and more. Many owners are already swearing by it.

What is hemp oil?

In simple terms, hemp is a strain of cannabis. However, there is a notable difference between this cultivar and those of other cannabis strains. The major difference is in the THC content. The plant typically contains 0% THC, in comparison to marijuana. Unlike other strains of cannabis which are often bred to create the most THC possible, industrial hemp is actually grown to produce 0% THC. Hemp oil is what is extracted from the plant after it’s harvested, processed and refined. In Australia it can be purchased in pharmacies.

THC is the compound responsible for the high that occurs from marijuana use due to its psychoactive effect. Oil from hemp will instead only contain non psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN, CBD, CBG and CBA. It also still retains many useful nutrients like terpenes, minerals, cannaflavins, chlorophyll and more. Because it contains no THC it’s safe for dogs. There are some caveats to this however and side effects to be cautious of. More on this below.

Key Benefits for Dogs

Let’s take a look at some of the top known benefits of CBD oil for dogs.

  1. Reduced anxiety

A larger number of dogs will struggle with anxiety. This can strike particularly in new environments or around new people. Of course, not every dog will get affected by anxiety, but finding a solution when it does occur is of high importance. CBD is well known for its anti anxiolytic effects (meaning it helps calm anxiousness). It works on the paralimbic system, helping reduce the flight or fight response and associated stress. The efficacy of this is high in humans. For dogs we aren’t fully sure to what extent it can assist. Anecdotes from owners suggest it works however, helping to provide some relief. This may not occur in all instances.

  1. Inflammation and arthritis 

There are a number of reasons why your dog might experience chronic pain. It can seriously reduce quality of life and well being. You might be wondering about ways in which you can control or reduce the pain so your dog can get back to normal life. CBD has been shown in some trials to be effective in controlling the severity of pain in humans. The same is likely also the case for dogs. It largely depends on what the pain is caused by. If it’s an inflammatory issue like arthritis, it is well known to be effective at providing relief. For other non-inflammatory issues like recent surgery pain it may not prove as efficacious.

As well as reducing the severity of pain, it can be effective for inflammation. This could be useful if your dog suffers from osteoarthritis. While there are pharmaceutical treatments available for this, hemp oil is an all natural, non addictive alternative. It represents a pathway to holistic treatment for many. It’s worth noting that many pain medications are not effective, and this is not only the case for people but also for dogs. If you have been trying numerous pain control medications but are not finding that they are offering great success, giving your dog CBD might be a good alternative.

  1. Neuroprotection

When we talk about seizures and epilepsy, we generally think of people. However, your dog can also struggle with this condition. It is estimated that somewhere in the region of 5% of dogs could actually suffer from epilepsy or seizures. Either on a regular basis or sporadically. CBD is well known for being highly effective in controlling the symptoms of seizures and epilepsy in people. The same might be true for dogs too, although this effect needs more research.

In a study which was carried out regarding drug resistant epilepsy, 7 out of 8 patients reported a notable improvement in their symptoms within 4 to 5 months of beginning treatment with CBD oil. Another study was carried out with children who struggled with drug resistant epilepsy, and the results of that study found that for almost 9 in 10 children, the frequency of their seizures was reduced as well.

While these results may not carry over fully to canines, if your dog struggles with seizures and epilepsy, he could derive benefit. It may be worth experimenting either as a standalone product or in conjunction with his current veterinary care and medicine. Always consult with your vet before use.

  1. Mood and energy

If your dog is a fussy eater then it might simply be that his appetite isn’t quite what it ought to be. This is the case for many dogs, especially as they grow older. It can be a source of stress and frustration for you as the owner. Dogs lose energy if they don’t eat enough and can get moody. It has been proven that hemp oil can be effective for helping to control appetite in people. It’s not yet clear if this applies to dogs too. But if your beloved pet is not eating much, this product might be a worthwhile tool to consider.

We do recommend that you get veterinary advice on this matter, in case your dog’s lack of appetite is caused by something more serious. Your vet may be able to provide more insight into the specific causes so that the appropriate steps can be taken to get his appetite back to normal and keep him eating a healthy and nutritious diet.

Cannabinoids affect almost every component of the immune system. It’s believed that inflammation may set off an immune response, which can often target the wrong bodily functions. Because cannabinoids decrease inflammation, they may be a source of reinforcing healthy immune function. CBD is also known to be able to lower cortisol and stress which can support overall immunity. 

What are the risks?

A key feature of this oil is it contains no THC. This compound can be dangerous to dogs. It causes toxicity in many animals including cats and canines. Avoid risking exposure of your pet to it. As CBD oil is extracted from industrial hemp as opposed to marijuana, the effects of it are safe providing it is quality assured, lab tested and has no THC. It is important that you keep your canine friend away from any products that could contain even a small amount of THC.

Broad spectrum CBD oil for dogs can have a number of potential benefits, but checking the quality of your product cannot be stressed enough. While it can be effective for helping with a number of conditions in your dog, it is important that you are aware of the dangers, too. There are very few risk factors – the largest is problems that arise if you don’t choose a highly pure product as this could be contaminated with THC. If this occurs it can result in weakness, coma, and potentially even death. Don’t risk it – always do your research and buy a high quality, lab tested and reputable product. When starting doses, always begin with very minimal amounts. Increase dosage over time to first test if any adverse reactions occur. This goes for any person or pet looking to get started. 

What are the side effects for dogs?

It’s not yet known what the full list of side effects are for CBD oil use with dogs. These may be relatively minor or more adverse. Always take precautions. Never start with a high dosage. Side effects in humans are our only indicator currently for dogs. The key ones to be aware of are:

  • Stomach irritation: many get queasiness, upset stomachs or even aches when taking hemp oil. Your dog may experience similar issues so monitor carefully.
  • Dry mouth: can occur in people using cannabinoid products as a result of reduced saliva production. Dogs likely have the same effect so may need extra water or wet food.
  • Drowsiness: is always a factor with use. It’s why it aids with sleep in so many individuals. Relaxation and stress relief from the oil can develop into drowsiness and over sleeping so watch out for this.

Other minor behavioural changes may occur but individual effects between each dog can vary significantly. 

What to look for when buying

A few green flags will help to get an indication of product quality and safety. Firstly, you should check whether the product has been tested. Quality assurance and lab testing is the only real way to know whether or not the oil contains THC. Without this you’re really just taking a guess which is risky. Make sure you obtain chemical analysis on the product and avoid getting something which may result in adverse outcomes for your pet. 

If you can, buy organic. It has been shown to not only be generally higher in quality, phytocannabinoid content plus nutrients, it’s typically also more pure. This means less risk of THC contamination. We are also big organic advocates due to reduced risk of pesticide, herbicide or solvent contaminants. For this reason you should also opt for a product extracted via CO2. As opposed to using alcohol or other solvents to extract the oil, CO2 gas is very clean and also  creates a higher purity product, despite taking longer to produce.

Finding reviews, third party certifications or other trust signals for a product should also be front of mind. The same goes for any product. If you need quality, the easiest way to check is to see what people are saying. Negative reviews in particular can provide insight into why you might not look to purchase a particular hemp oil. Find reputable sellers which offer organic, GMO and pesticide free products. In Australia it can be difficult to find high quality retailers like this but rest assured you can if you search.