It may be time to shake our reservations about hemp and other cannabis-based products. The fact of the matter is, they help our pets in ways many supplements can’t. Our misconceptions about hemp come from our knowledge that cannabis has “psychoactive” effects, but is that always true?
The simple answer is no. Cannabis plants can contain different ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). In short, THC is the cannabinoid that contains psychoactive properties. However, hemp, by definition, contains less than 0.3 percent of THC. Instead, it relies on CBD, making its effects neurological in nature. In other words, it is able to behave as a natural analgesic.
Hemp oil could be extremely beneficial for your pet. In addition to its pain-relieving qualities, it aids their health in many other ways.
Hemp oil can aid in the production of Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid known to regulate inflammation, allergies, weight, and immune function. Lack of GLA in the body can lead to arthritis, weakness, allergies, and even cancer.
Research shows that GLA can stunt the growth of various tumors, while also combatting cancer cells. It can also stifle the side effects of traditional cancer-fighting medications. It is believed that GLA’s anti-inflammatory properties are what give it its cancer-fighting qualities. Since inflammation weakens cells, tissues, and the immune system, GLA acts as a preventative measure.
The American Cancer Society even states that people (and animals) with cancer are known not to make enough GLA. Hemp oil is one of the easiest ways to ensure your dog gets their daily dose of it.
A Better Alternative to Fish Oil
Many owners give their pets fish oil, but its efficacy and safety have recently come into question. Fish oil is processed using heat in order to remove mercury and other potential contaminants. Unfortunately, this process destabilizes it, meaning it can cause inflammation and become rancid.
Hemp oil is cold-pressed, making it a much safer alternative. Since hemp is a plant, it’s significantly less likely to contain any contaminants. It also contains the ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, allowing your dog to obtain these essentials through one product. Your dog still needs to get their omega-3s, but fish oil is proving more and more to be an ineffective method.
The omega-3s in hemp oil can benefit your dog’s eye, brain, skin, heart, and joint health.
Reduces Epileptic Events
Hemp oil has been proven to reduce the frequency of seizures in dogs. With most epilepsy medications having damaging effects to the liver and other organs, hemp oil is an excellent holistic approach. One hemp oil study showed that 7 of 8 patients experienced less seizures as a result.
The CBD found in hemp oil is the primary component here. In fact, the American Kennel Club is currently working on a study to determine the exact benefits of CBD for epilepsy. While currently relying on anecdotal evidence, the medical community seems to have faith in its efficacy.
Just last year, the FDA approved the first drug containing CBD (an oral solution) to treat epilepsy. If you decide the results of your dog’s prescribed epilepsy medications are not worth the potential organ damage, you may strongly want to consider hemp oil.
Hemp oil is abundant in vitamins E and A. As a result, it benefits your dog’s eye, heart, and brain health. Vitamin A will also give your dog a shinier coat. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a good treatment for skin conditions, as well.
If your pet has atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, pruritic skin disease, or granulomas, hemp oil may be the answer. It will reduce your pet’s itching and scratching, particularly during seasons when their allergies run high.
Phospholipids are a type of lipid that forms the cell membrane. They protect the cell and allow it to maintain its internal environment, also known as homeostasis. As a result, phospholipids contain many health benefits for dogs.
In addition to inhibiting cancer cell and tumor growth, phospholipids can reduce gastric acid and repair liver damage. Pets who have faced liver damage as a result of other medications could benefit from the phospholipids in hemp oil to repair some of the damage.
CBD is best-known for its ability to reduce anxiety. Because hemp oil contains less THC, it maximizes the effectiveness of CBD’s relaxing effects. While dogs are generally carefree creatures, plenty of things can provoke their anxiety. This could be a trip to the vet, your absence, or loud thunderstorms.
Just a little bit of hemp oil can ease your dog’s tension, making it dually beneficial if that tension is related to health issues.
Since anxiety can lead to worsened allergies or excessive licking, which could later lead to skin conditions, hemp oil works as a preventative measure as well.
Incorporating Hemp Into Your Dog’s Lifestyle
There are many considerations to take into account before diving headfirst into offering your dog hemp oil. For starters, its legality often varies from state to state, meaning it may be difficult for your veterinarian to endorse it (even if it’s easily accessible). Secondly, hemp’s efficacy depends largely on its source.
Hemp oil from questionable sources could contain toxic chemicals, pesticides, or contaminants that could cause an allergic reaction in your pet. For this reason, where it is legal, it is important to obtain it from a reliable and credible distributor.
Furthermore, if you cook your dog’s food, hemp seed oil should not be added during this process. The high heat would cause it to become unstable and go rancid. Add a teaspoon or two (depending on your dog’s size) to meats like beef, bison, or lamb. Avoid it if your dog has a poultry-based diet. Because chicken is high in polyunsaturated fats and linoleic acid, hemp oil can cause a serious imbalance.
There are also hemp chews available, which can be more easily administered.
The many benefits of CBD have become widespread for humans, and are often reflected in dogs. If you are a proponent of holistic approaches, hemp is a viable option for improving your dog’s overall health. In addition to its many physical benefits, it is known to provide cognitive clarity and neurological support.
Nonetheless, it’s important you consult with your vet and evaluate hemp’s compatibility with your dog’s diet and lifestyle. If it is approved as a good fit, and you see positive results, the veterinary community (and dog owners everywhere) would certainly benefit from you sharing your story.
Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for Handicapped Pets, a trusted source for pet wheelchairs, harnesses, back braces, and all kinds of products for pets with mobility issues.