Hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) supplements for pets became all the rage in 2016.
CBD is one, and the most abundant, of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in the hemp plant.
It is considered to have a lot of potential benefits for dogs.
While CBD is derived from hemp, not all products containing hemp also contain CBD.
I feel like everywhere I turn, a new “hemp” supplement or product for dogs is popping up.
No doubt this is a marketplace trend that a lot of companies want to cash in on.
Much of the marketing of “hemp” products I see is confusing, if not outright deceptive, and designed to cash in on the trend of hemp-derived CBD for pets.
Enter the practice of “hempwashing”.
UPDATED: March 24, 2023
What is Hempwashing?
In the world of environmentally friendly products, there is a term called “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is the practice of using deceptive marketing or labeling to imply that a product is environmentally friendly when that feature is marginal or missing all together.
When companies saw that people wanted “green” products, some adjusted their marketing to put a green spin on their product or created pseudo-eco-friendly products to cash in on this trend.
I have thus termed the ambiguous and misleading use of “hemp” on pet product labeling in order to gain sales as “hempwashing”.
An Example of Hempwashing
I regularly attend pet trade shows and one particular product I saw at the Global Pet Expo used the word “hemp” in their name and displayed a hemp leaf prominently on their label.
Their marketing copy said,
“The health and medicinal benefits of hemp are quickly becoming recognized by researchers worldwide, and we at *company* are proud to announce the arrival of our functional hemp-based dog chews”.
While they explained the difference between THC from marijuana and CBD derived from industrial hemp on their website, they did not make it crystal clear that their product does not contain CBD.
They are clear that their product only contains hemp seed oil and ground hemp seed.
Hemp seeds do not contain CBD (see the next section) but I wouldn’t expect the average consumer, looking into a product that already has a lot of confusion and controversy around it, to know that.
To me, being so ambiguous can be determined as deceptive marketing. At best, it’s merely confusing.
I’m not calling this company out because I think they are good people with a quality product, their hearts are in the right place, and their products do contain the right ingredients to provide the potential benefits they claim on the package.
However, most of the benefits their treats provide are due to the traditional ingredients, including glucosamine, turmeric, chamomile, etc – not the hemp.
According to the Hemp Industry Association,
“CBD is not a [significant] product or component of hemp seeds, and labeling to that effect is misleading…” (Source).
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Dogs
The term “Hemp” on a product package can mean two different things.
Hemp oil and CBD oil for dogs are not the same thing.
The hemp plant is made up of many parts including seeds, stalk, leaves, and flowers.
If you see a product labeled “hemp”, it’s important to know which part of the plant the “hemp” in the product is derived from.
This matters because you want to know what kind of benefit your dog might experience from consuming it.
In the case of the current market trend, the majority of people are seeking hemp CBD products for their pets for serious therapeutic benefits like potential cancer fighting properties, to help control seizures, to control pain and inflammation, and to help reduce anxiety.
Some products labeled “hemp” may contain only hemp seeds or, specifically, hemp seed oil.
Though hemp oil does contain low levels of CBD, typically less than 25 parts per million (ppm), CBD extracts:
“are produced either directly from cannabis flowers that are up to 15 percent CBD (150,000 ppm), or indirectly as a co-product of the flowers and leaves that are mixed in with the stalks during hemp stalk processing for fiber.” (source)
So, to be crystal clear, hemp seeds do not contain any significant amount of CBD.
Therefore, it’s important to make sure the “hemp” in a product is sourced from the whole plant, not just hemp seeds.
But you may be wondering if there are any benefits to just hemp seeds for your dog.
Benefits of Hemp Seeds for Dogs
Don’t get me wrong, ground hemp seeds, or hemp seed oil, as a food or supplement for your dog does have some benefits.
Hemp seeds are often claimed to be one of the most nutritionally complete food sources in the world and are great protein source.
Dog treats made with hemp seed protein may be a good option for pets with allergies or people who prefer to reduce or eliminate meat in their dog’s diet due to moral beliefs (Just sayin’… let’s not get into the argument about dogs being carnivores and needing meat).
Hemp seeds contain gamma linolenic acid, omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, and a large number of vitamins and minerals including: phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, iodine and vitamins E, C, B1, B2, B3 and B6 .
Hemp contains 49% more magnesium than broccoli and 16% more iron than spinach.
Benefits of hemp seeds for your pet include:
- Improvement in itchy skin
- A healthier coat
- Reducing inflammation
If you want a great treat that contains plant-derived protein and may help your dog’s skin and coat, or reduce minor inflammation, then a product containing only hemp seed will suffice.
Benefits of Hemp-Derived CBD for Dogs
Hemp CBD products derived from the whole plant provide the benefits of the hemp seeds listed above plus all of these benefits.
It’s CBD that is getting press lately for its potential cancer-fighting properties, help in controlling seizures, controlling stress and anxiety, and more…
THE Most Important Thing You Need to Know When Shopping for CBD Pet Products
The bottom line is, unless a products says “CBD” or “cannabidiol” (the full name of CBD) on the label, it doesn’t most likely doesn’t contain any.
Do your homework and be sure that what you are buying contains the ingredients you are looking for.
Ideally, the CBD in a product should be extracted from the entire plant including stalk, leaves, flowers, and seeds.
Furthermore, unless the product is tested by an independent 3rd party and the amount of CBD delivered per dose is clearly provided on the label, you should question whether the product contains a consistent amount of CBD and/or enough CBD to get the therapeutic benefits.
Note: It’s been found that CBD is not dangerous even in high doses so the concern is not “is there too much?” but rather “Is there enough?”
The Confusing Legality of CBD Products
There is a lot of confusing information out there about whether CBD products are legal.
While the CBD in pet products is derived from industrial hemp that doesn’t contain zero or very, very low levels of THC – the substance that makes the user feel “high” and is a regulated drug – it can contain trace amounts.
According to the article Some Facts About Industrial Hemp-Derived CBD by Leafly, the world’s largest cannabis information resource,
“There is a strong legal argument that production and distribution of CBD oils/products derived from imported raw material industrial hemp IS NOT a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA);
in fact, one Colorado law firm has published a written opinion making the case.”
See that there though? The statement says “strong legal argument” not “is totally legal”. Still confusing, right?
To get to the bottom of the legality, I went to the experts.
I spoke at length with one of the very knowledgeable founders of Pet Releaf, Steve, about this issue.
Steve started researching CBD in early 2000 when his dog Mattie was suffering from debilitating arthritic pain.
His veterinarian said that opioids were the only option for relieving Mattie’s pain.
Steve and his wife noticed that Mattie became distant and “absent” after taking the drugs and they missed their friend.
They rigorously started researching natural alternatives and they discovered CBD. They decided to create a “better way” to help Mattie and dogs like her.
The bottom line is yes, CBD products are legal in all 50 States as long as it’s sourced from Imported Industrial Hemp.
Do you have any questions about CBD products for pets? Leave them in the comments.
The use of CBD as a pet supplement has exploded over the last few years.
Understandably, pet brands want to cash in on this trend so many have started including hemp derivatives in their products.
But be sure to read the label carefully as some of these products only contain hemp seed oil, and not CBD.
Hemp oil and CBD is not the same thing and do not have the same benefits, although hemp seeds, and help seed oil, do have some health benefits on their own.
CBD oil or treats are what you want if you are looking to help support your dog’s, arthritis, seizures, epilepsy, cancer, or stress and anxiety.
Just remember to check with your vet first before giving your dog CBD as it could interfere with some medications.
About the Author
Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.