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Is Hemp Extract Oil Good For Dogs?

Over a third of Americans own a dog in the United States. If you’re one of those “dog people,” your dog probably feels like part of the family. In fact, many of today’s dog owners care so deeply about their furry loved ones, that they plan to spend more on their dog over the course of its lifetime than they will on their own health care costs.

As a dog owner, you likely have your ears to the ground for the latest and greatest ways to treat your dog, from actual treats and food to enrichment toys and doggie daycare. If your dog’s health suffers at all, however, you may be looking for more serious options to improve their quality of life and wellbeing.

One such option is Hemp Extract. Short for cannabidiol, Hemp Extract is a cannabis compound that provides health benefits without the high of marijuana. Many dog owners are increasingly turning to Hemp Extract to treat a variety of canine conditions, from anxiety to arthritis.

Hemp Extract is legal in all 50 states, but the research around its effects on dogs is still developing. However, a growing number of veterinarians are recommending it to their clients. While the research is not yet definitive, many believe Hemp Extract offers several therapeutic benefits to dogs.

In this guide we’ll explore what those benefits might be, how to ensure you find Hemp Extract products that will be safe for your dog, and everything else you need to know about Hemp Extract for dogs.

Hemp Extract and the canine brain: How Hemp Extract affects dogs

Cannabidiol (Hemp Extract) is a non-psychoactive extract of Cannabis. It is distinct from THC, which produces the “high” effect of marijuana. Both THC and Hemp Extract have been shown to be beneficial to humans, such as with medical marijuana. However, due to differences between the human and canine brains, THC can have adverse effects in dogs.

Cannabis affects the endocannabinoid system, which both dogs and humans have. Because dogs have more CB1 and THC receptors in their brain than humans do, cannabis affects us differently. Specifically, dogs are more sensitive to THC. If dogs ingest cannabis with THC, it can cause other unpleasant side effects, such as increased anxiety.

Due to this sensitivity, it is recommended that dogs only ingest products with Hemp Extract. Fortunately, since Hemp Extract is an extract of cannabis without THC, dogs can enjoy the benefits of Hemp Extract without the risk of THC.

And those benefits are numerous. The cannabinoid receptors in the dog’s brain help regulate its response to anxiety, physical pain, nausea, and more. According to research from The American Animal Hospital Association, when a dog ingests Hemp Extract, it can affect how they perceive pain and stress, and boost their dopamine levels, lifting their mood. On a physical level, Hemp Extract’s interaction with the canine endocannabinoid system can reduce inflammation and block GPR signaling, thereby lowering cancer cell reproduction.

Thanks to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, Hemp Extract can help dogs with a variety of physical and emotional ailments, including:

  • Relieving arthritis and joint pain
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Relieving anxiety and related barking or whining from separation anxiety, stressful vet or grooming appointments, scary thunderstorms or fireworks
  • Reducing nausea and vomiting from other medications or car rides
  • Reducing seizures or epilepsy
  • Suppressing muscle spasms
  • Improving sleep
  • Improving digestive and nervous system health
  • Improving appetite

Does Hemp Extract really work for dogs?

According to a 2016 report published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (JAHVMA), 58.8% of dog owners are currently using Hemp Extract products on their dog. Over three-quarters of those products were prescribed by a veterinarian.

Most commonly, dog owners tend to use Hemp Extract to provide their dogs relief from the following conditions.

Anxiety

49% of dog owners in the JAHVMA survey reported that Hemp Extract relieved their dogs’ anxiety by “a great deal” or “moderate amount.” The calming effect of Hemp Extract can relax dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. Dog owners can give their dog a daily dose to calm their nerves when they leave the house for work.

Hemp Extract can also calm dogs on a more irregular basis, such as when they get fearful during a thunderstorm or fireworks.

Seizures

Canine epilepsy affects 4% of dogs. Many of the medications used to treat canine seizures have intense side effects, such as phenobarbital, which is associated with increased thirst and appetite (and subsequent weight gain), increased urination, ataxia in the hind legs, lethargy, and even depression. Anti-seizure medication can also be expensive.

Hemp Extract products, on the other hand, are less expensive and less physically taxing on a dog, leading many dog owners to use them to treat seizures.

The American Kennel for Canine Health Foundation recently funded a clinical study to gather hard data on the treatment potential of Hemp Extract for canine epilepsy. The preliminary data from the study, released this July, appears promising. Of the sixteen dogs in the clinical trial, nine were treated with Hemp Extract and seven were treated with a placebo. 89% of the dogs who received Hemp Extract experienced a reduced frequency of seizures.

Arthritis

As an anti-inflammatory, Hemp Extract relieves the chronic pain many older dogs with arthritis live with on a daily basis. Providing your older dog with a daily dose of Hemp Extract can make their daily life more comfortable and make it easier for them to move around, enabling them to be more active and live a fuller life.

A 2018 study of dogs with osteoarthritis provided dogs with either a 2mg/ml/kg Hemp Extract or placebo oil twice a day for four weeks. At the end of the study, the dogs who received the Hemp Extract oil demonstrated a significant improvement. They expressed less pain and were more active than the dogs who took the placebo.

Cancer

Nausea is an unfortunate side effect of many canine cancer treatments and medications. Although no studies have been conducted with dogs specifically, multiple studies of humans have found that cannabis can reduce or prevent nausea.

There are also not any studies of the effects of Hemp Extract on canine cancer, but anecdotes abound where Hemp Extract therapy has improved symptoms and quality of life for canine cancer patients. In some cases, Hemp Extract even appears to slow cancer growth.

Appetite stimulation

While it may seem shocking to some dog owners, there are dogs who have trouble with appetite. This can be a common problem in older dogs or dogs with cancer. Hemp Extract stimulates appetite by binding to receptors in their brain that trigger hunger, helping dogs keep up a healthy appetite.

How much Hemp Extract oil is safe for dogs?

To date, there are no official dosing guidelines for Hemp Extract and dogs. However, the general recommendation is 0.2 mg/ml of Hemp Extract per pound of your dog’s body weight per day. To be safe, start lower than this amount and slowly increase the dosage until you notice a positive response from your dog. At that point, stop increasing the dosage.  

Unless your dog’s body weight drastically changes, you will not need to increase the dose amount, since they will not develop a tolerance to it the way some people do with THC.

To determine the ideal dose for your dog, you can use this formula:

0.2 x [your dog’s body weight, in pounds] = mg/ml of Hemp Extract per day

To save you the math, we’ve calculated this formula for various dog weights, which you can view in the chart below.

Hemp Extract for Dogs: Common FAQ

There are a few more common questions people have about giving Hemp Extract to their dogs. We answer them below.

Is Hemp Extract safe for dogs?

When administered safely in the proper dosage amounts, Hemp Extract is generally considered safe for dogs. Typically, problems only occur when the dog overdoses on Hemp Extract or if the Hemp Extract product also includes THC. In the event of an overdose, the dog may experience drowsiness or an upset stomach. To avoid this outcome for your dog, ensure that you supply him or her with the proper dosage amount of a Hemp Extract product extracted from hemp only.

As we mentioned above, THC can increase anxiety in dogs. Additionally, dogs may experience an extreme adverse reaction if they ingest too much THC. Specifically, high THC concentration can result in static ataxia, causing them to sway or wobble, drool excessively, and experience body tremors or low blood pressure. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day for them to recover.

To date, most issues of toxicity reported to the AVMA have occurred among young puppies, and often involve other substances that are dangerous for dogs, such as chocolate, product wrappers, or xylitol (a common sugar substitute in human food products).

What are the side effects of Hemp Extract for dogs?

According to the American Kennel Club, high doses of Hemp Extract may cause the following side effects in dogs:

Drowsiness: When Hemp Extract is used to treat anxiety, the dog may appear drowsy as a result of the calming effect. Consider reducing the dosage to reduce the drowsiness.

Dry mouth: If a dog experiences dry mouth from Hemp Extract, they’ll produce less saliva and will drink more water as a result. If you notice your dog drinking more water than usual after a dose of Hemp Extract, consider reducing the dose.

Decrease in blood pressure: Hemp Extract can cause a temporary drop in blood pressure. If your dog appears light-headed, consider reducing the dose.

Is hemp oil the same as Hemp Extract oil for dogs?

No, hemp oil (also called hemp seed oil) is not the same as Hemp Extract oil. Both Hemp Extract and hemp oil come from the hemp plant, buy hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant while Hemp Extract is extracted from the trichomes of the plant’s flowers.

While hemp seed oil can improve your dog’s coat and skin health, it will not provide them with the health benefits of Hemp Extract. It does not contain any Hemp Extract. To enjoy the health benefits of Hemp Extract for your dog, the product should contain Hemp Extract oil, not hemp oil.

Can you give your dog human Hemp Extract oil?

Dogs have smaller brains than humans, and consequently fewer cannabinoid receptors. We also have larger endocannabinoid systems than our dogs. Because of this, dogs should not take Hemp Extract oil designed for humans. Human Hemp Extract products contain different ingredients and concentrations than Hemp Extract products designed for dogs, and what’s safe for humans isn’t necessarily safe for dogs.

Giving a dog Hemp Extract products designed for humans can overload your dog’s endocannabinoid system and result in uncomfortable side effects. Further, the product may contain other ingredients that are unsafe for dogs.

To be safe, it’s best to reserve dog Hemp Extract products for dog consumption only, and human Hemp Extract products for humans only.

How quickly does Hemp Extract oil work for dogs?

Typically, dogs begin to experience the effects of Hemp Extract within the first one to three hours of receiving their dose. How quickly your dog responds to Hemp Extract can depend on a variety of factors, such as the product, the dosage amount, or the age or health of your dog.