October 13, 2018 5 min read

Why is Hemp Taking the Dog Supplements Market by Storm?

Seemingly overnight, hemp is popping up everywhere as an all-natural option to address a variety of dog and cat health issues. Pet product websites and Internet chat forms are buzzing with anecdotal evidence of the effectiveness of hemp extract or cannabidiol in treating everything from joint pain, anxiety, motion sickness, hyperactivity and other common wellness and behavioral problems. Understandably, dog owners are intrigued and are curious to know if this is a safe and wise choice. Here are some useful considerations to know before deciding either way.

The Functional Food Movement

Of course, dog lovers will go to practically any lengths to ensure the health and happiness of their beloved “four-legged family member”. Last year, pet owners forked over $64 billion on goods and services, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Of that total, roughly 40% was spent on pet food alone ($25 billion).

Among the more interesting recent developments in meeting the dietary needs of pets is the emergence of “functional foods”. The American Dietetic Association (ADA), the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, defines functional foods (for humans specifically) as those which “include whole foods and fortified, enriched, or enhanced foods that have a potentially beneficial effect on health when consumed as part of a varied diet on a regular basis”. 

In our human diets, we can achieve these goals by adding more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and prebiotics and probiotics to daily food consumption. Not surprisingly, our canine companions benefit similarly from functional foods, exhibiting improved digestive function, higher levels of activity and energy, less gassiness, more lustrous coat, and better overall health.

Many dog owners are avoiding store-bought products by feeding pooch homemade meals they cooked up themselves. Doing so exclusively or as a supplement to packaged foods can help create a more balanced diet than is possible with a continuous regimen of dry or canned food. The growing interest in higher quality pet nutrition is also seen in the rapid rise in popularity of dog foods which reduce or remove entirely the use of gains and glutens. In general, consumers are scrutinizing labels more intently to identify packaged foods which contain fewer and healthier ingredients, making this one of the fastest growing sectors of the industry.

Is Hemp Right for Your Dog?

Whether or not you’re already on the functional food bandwagon, you’ve probably wondered if hemp should be included in your dog’s diet. Some common reasons to turn to hemp extract (either in the form of food additive or tincture) are to combat situational anxiety (prior to travel or new stimuli), to address behavioral issues (disobedience, separation anxiety), or for occasional or chronic health problems (arthritis, joint pain, low energy).

So how does this functional food supplement affect your dog’s system and why can it deliver beneficial results?

The highest quality hemp extract (such as that used exclusively in Canine Best Delights products) uses the entire plant (roots, stalks, leaves, buds and seeds) and is sourced from U.S. growers strictly adhering to USDA Organic farming practices. Although both hemp and marijuana are derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant, the two closely related genus of species are quite different in appearance and biological structures. 

All cannabis contains a variety of different compounds called Cannabinoids, the most notable being Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol. The reason for the intense interest in hemp extract as a wellness ingredient for human and animal applications are the vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and other nutrients packed into every milligram of hemp (whether in oil, powder or solid form). Many of these act as antioxidants and phospholipids. 

Antioxidants are compounds proven to inhibit oxidation, a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, which over time may damage the cells of organisms. Phospholipids are a class of lipids or soluble biomolecules, a major component of all cell membranes. These “fatty acids” can help strengthen cells by “holding them together”. One of the fatty acids found in hemp thought to have significant health benefits is Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid.

The mention of “fat” inherent in any substance can often cause consternation. Fortunately, roughly 80% of the fatty acids in hemp are unsaturated (good essential fats, such as those found in fish and plants) and less than 10% are saturated fatty acids (primarily triglycerides, the bad, artery clogging fat). Naturally, the overarching goal in the development of Canine Best Delights products has been to retain all of the beneficial characteristics of hemp while avoiding unwanted impurities through minimal processing and carefully selecting the other ingredients.

How Hemp Helps

With 340 unique dog breeds in existence and an incalculable number of mixed-breed combinations, it may seem logical to wonder how hemp could reliably deliver wellness benefits to such a broad spectrum of canines of different sizes, temperaments, and characteristics. Fortunately, just as the physiology of all humans and mammals of the same species is virtually identical in design, structure, and function, so too are those of dogs.  

Our specific interest in hemp’s active ingredients revolves around the Cannabinoid system or more correctly the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is universal in all mammals. Comprised of trillions of receptors located in the brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, this remarkable network of neurons functions by affecting the way lipids and their receptors interact by binding to cannabinoid receptors and receptor proteins. In the family pet, these processes can offer a wealth of wellness opportunities, ranging from immediate, short-term, and life-long benefits, depending on your dog’s age, health and the conditions you are treating.

Just as in humans, your dog’s endocannabinoid system works by utilizing two specific types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. Each affect different functions of the body and are vital to your dog’s good health, whether or not you add hemp to your dog’s diet. In many areas of the body, such as the liver, pancreas, gall bladder, bone marrow and the brain stem (connection between the brain and spinal cord), both CB1 and CB2 receptors are present. 

CB1:

CB1 receptors are mostly concentrated in the central nervous system and the brain. They help regulate functioning of the gastrointestinal tract, the brain, lungs, muscles, vascular system and reproductive organs. CB1 regulates ion channels (membrane protein) which are key to cell regeneration, transporting nutrients throughout your body, and optimal muscle performance. Its function is critical to the nervous system as a regulator of how much electricity is fired off to synapses in your brain. When your dog is anxious, overly active, or exhibiting mood fluctuations, hemp processed through CB1 receptors can positively affect mood by calming your pet, improving appetite, assisting with sounder sleeping, and relieving pain by reducing joint pain and inflammation and soothing tired, sore muscles.

CB2:

Unlike CB1 receptors, CB2 are distributed throughout the body but are located primarily in peripheral organs (spleen, bones, skin, portions of the brain) and especially in cells which supports the immune system. In promoting strong immune reactions to inflammation, stress and disease, CB2 receptors increase their presence in response to swelling and the presence of potentially harmful pathogens. In the skin, CB2 support the endocannabinoid system in combatting skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis and helps repair damaged cells and replenish old skin cells. When combatting skin problems, topical hemp-derived lotions can target specific areas.   

Active Ingredients in Hemp

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Omega-3 and Omega 6

Vitamin E and Vitamin A (carotene): Antioxidants