Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Dogs

Whether it’s for dogs, humans, or other mammals, both hemp and CBD have grown in popularity since the hemp plant was officially recognized as legal with the 2018 Farm Bill (though hemp had a very, very long history before that date). Yet while CBD is found in hemp, not all hemp oil contains CBD. So, what’s the difference between hemp oil vs CBD oil for dogs? 

The cannabinoid CBD is found in hemp, so the two are related. Thus, the confusion is understandable. But, they are also very different, not only in labeling and language but in effects and how they’re used.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Dogs
Photo by John Salzarulo on Unsplash

What Is Hemp Oil for Dogs?

Hemp is another name for a specific type of Cannabis sativa plant. The hemp plant shouldn’t be confused with another strain of the cannabis plant, i.e., marijuana. But for many years, that was often the case. This is why hemp’s legal status remained murky in the U.S., despite the fact that hemp was grown in many other parts of the world, including our neighbors to the North (i.e., Canada).

When the cannabis plant is grown to produce high amounts of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, it’s often referred to as marijuana. THC is the compound that produces the well-known psychoactive high, along with many potential health benefits for humans like relief from pain, nausea, and sleeplessness. (It’s important to note that THC is not recommended for dogs or cats.)

Hemp cannabis, on the other hand, contains only trace amounts of THC (no more than 0.3%), so it lacks the ability to get you (or your dog) high or “stoned.” Hemp should in no way be confused with “drugs” used for recreational purposes.

Hemp seed oil is made by cold-pressing the cleaned seeds from these low-THC strains of the cannabis plant. The oil can then be used nutritionally as it provides high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 essentially fatty acids. It’s especially rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 that’s been shown to help resolve cellular stress. 1 The seeds also are rich in protein and amino acids and provide high amounts of antioxidants and vitamins like B and D. However, because hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the cannabis plant—rather than the leaves or flowers—it does not provide any cannabinoids, terpenes, or other compounds.

The hemp seed oil can also be used topically as a massage oil or as a component in skincare products and as a carrier oil for other nutrients. Interestingly, there is research on the health benefits of nutrients found in hemp seed oil, such as helping:

  • Support healthy levels of inflammation
  • Decrease pain
  • Reduce symptoms of anxiety 2
  • As an anti-acne agent 3
  • Ease symptoms of skin issues like eczema and psoriasis 4, 5
  • Relieve symptoms of PMS and menopause 6, 7 

Hemp seed oil is included in foods, as supplements, and in skincare products. Unfortunately, there’s little in the way of animal, including dog, research at this time.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Dogs: What’s the Difference?

CBD oil is also made from the Cannabis sativa plant or “industrial hemp.” However, unlike hemp oil, CBD is a component found in strains of hemp that are specifically extracted through various methods from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant. 

Therefore, broad-spectrum CBD oils provide the beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds from the plant and interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to produce positive results in the body. CBDs have been shown in research to support:

  • Skin health
  • Joint health
  • Digestion
  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Behavior 

There is specific research that shows that quality CBD oils are both safe and effective for dogs. 8, 9 For instance, CBD oil is popular with pet owners to help manage inflammation, to calm anxiety, to improve the health of the skin, coat, and joints, to help ease allergies, and to decrease pain.

Many pet parents are seeking solutions from CBD because drugs designed to help with these types of conditions often also come with dangerous or uncomfortable side effects.

CBD not only lacks these worrisome side effects, again, it does not lead to any “high” as it is also extracted from the hemp plant, which contains no more than trace (0.3% or less) amounts of THC.

What’s Right for Your Dog: Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil 

While both hemp seed oil and CBD come from the cannabis plant, they have very different benefits. If you are looking to support your dog nutritionally and ensure they’re getting enough essential fatty acids, then hemp oil might be the right supplement. Long-term research has found that essential fatty acids may help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve joint lubrication and decrease pain, and help support general health.

On the other hand, the other popular oil from the cannabis plant—CBD—appears to offer greater benefits if you are looking to help your dog deal with health issues, such as: 

  • Pain and inflammation from arthritis and other conditions
  • Anxiety from separation, car rides, hyperactivity, etc.
  • Acute stress
  • Nervous behavior 
  • Reduced appetite
  • And other acute or chronic issues 

So, while both hemp oil and CBD oil from the cannabis plant offer health benefits for your dog, CBD provides a wider range of benefits, including relaxation, mobility, comfort, and greater pain relief without the side effects that often come with drugs. 

Hemp Oil + CBD Oil: A Winning Combination

If you’re looking for the best of all words, consider searching for a CBD oil that uses hemp oil as a carrier, which then provides the benefits of both hemp oil and CBD oil, so you don’t have to pick one or the other. For example, ABSC Organics uses both CBD and certified hemp seed oil for the highest quality, premium tincture. 

The cannabis plant has so many benefits to offer, and the research is only now showing us the benefits of hemp, CBD, terpenes, and other intriguing compounds found in this ancient but often misunderstood plant.

Related Information: 


1. Fan YY, Chapkin RS. Importance of dietary γ-linolenic acid in human health and nutrition. The Journal of Nutrition. 1998 Sep 1;128(9):1411-4. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/128/9/1411/4722487

2. Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, Glaser R. Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2011 Nov 1;25(8):1725-34. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3191260/

3. Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, Sugawara K, Szöllõsi AG, Czifra G, Pál B, Ambrus L, Kloepper J, Camera E, Ludovici M. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2014 Sep 2;124(9):3713-24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151231/

4. Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, Järvinen T. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2005 Apr 1;16(2):87-94. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16019622/

5. Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, Debbaneh M, Koo J, Liao W. Diet and psoriasis, part III: role of nutritional supplements. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014 Sep 1;71(3):561-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4134971/ 

6. Rocha Filho EA, Lima JC, Pinho Neto JS, Montarroyos U. Essential fatty acids for premenstrual syndrome and their effect on prolactin and total cholesterol levels: a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. Reproductive Health. 2011 Dec;8(1):1-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3033240/

7. Saberivand A, Karimi I, Becker LA, Moghaddam A, Azizi-Mahmoodjigh S, Yousefi M, Zavareh S. The effects of Cannabis sativa L. seed (hempseed) in the ovariectomized rat model of menopause. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 1;32(7):467-73. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21069097/

8. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Kogan LR, Hellyer PW. A report of adverse effects associated with the administration of cannabidiol in healthy dogs. Vet Med. 2018;1:6-8. https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/AHVMA-2018-V52-CannabisAdverseEffects.pdf

9. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2019 Jun 1;254(11):1301-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31067185/ 

Is CBD Good for Cats?

If you’re a pet lover—and especially if you’re familiar with cats—you know you have to be careful with what you give them. Foods, supplements, and medications that are perfectly safe for humans or dogs can be damaging and even fatal for cats. So, it pays to ask a lot of questions about what you give these curious fur friends. To answer the question “Is CBD Good for Cats?” let’s first examine what CBD is…

What Is CBD? 

The acronym CBD stands for cannabidiol, and it’s one of the two most talked about compounds or active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. CBD is found in all cannabis, but it’s most often derived from the hemp plant or a Cannabis sativa plant that contains no more than .3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the compound that provides the cannabis plant’s infamous “high.” 

Hemp, however, cannot legally contain more than 0.3% of THC to prevent it from being a controlled substance. As such, it also doesn’t cause the user—human, dog, or cat—to experience psychoactive symptoms, such as feeling “stoned.” Instead, some versions or brands may help some users (again, animal or human) feel calmer and more relaxed. 

Animal Research on CBD

For many years, research on CBD lagged due to the precarious legal status of the compound. Now, though, some cutting-edge research is being performed with CBD. In fact, ABSC Organics has sponsored three clinical trials at major veterinary research facilities in Colorado to see how safe and effective CBD products are for pets. 

The first phase found that CBD could be effectively and safely delivered orally and was well tolerated in healthy dogs. 1 The second phase found that dogs with idiopathic epilepsy experienced a reduction in the number of seizures (by 89%). 2 Another osteoarthritis study is currently pending until publication. You can learn more about these studies here: CBD Clinical Trials

Other research has found that CBD oil can help dogs with osteoarthritis feel more comfortable. 3 And other research indicates that humans may experience mood support, relaxation, and help with some health conditions. 

Unfortunately, there is significantly less research on cats than dogs in general. And this is true for CBD as well. So, to determine the safety of CBD for cats, we tend to rely on reports from experienced holistic veterinarians and pet parents. 


Is CBD Good for Cats: Anecdotal Reports

There’s a great deal of evidence from holistic vets who have observed the use of CBD products for pets as well as the cat owners who use them. For instance, holistic veterinarian Dr. Gary Richter, in Oakland California, has found CBD oils to be safe for cats.

The most often reported side effects are sleepiness or upset stomachs if given a dose that’s too high. Fortunately, these conditions tend to be simple to resolve by either lowering the amount or discontinuing use of the product. 

That said, there are a lot of CBD products made for pets on the market, and not all of them are created equal. Some CBD products contain no CBD, others contain low-quality CBD, and some may even contain contaminants that can be harmful to pets, especially kitties, who are highly sensitive to toxins. 

That’s why it’s so important to seek out high-quality CBD products from a reputable company. To help find the right CBD product for your cat, it can help to:

  • Ask a veterinarian experienced with CBD and hemp products.
  • Look for third-party testing to ensure the product contains what’s on the label and is free from GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, or other contaminants.
  • Use only CBD products that are designed for animals and contain only CBD within a safe-for-cats carrier oil like hemp oil and perhaps an enticing natural flavor. 
  • Look for brand transparency—are you able to reach the company? Do they list their contact information and address on the website? Do they provide real testimonials from actual product users?

What Is CBD Oil Good for Cats?

Anyone—whether human, dog, cat, or another mammal—with an endocannabinoid system may experience positive benefits from a CBD oil. CBD oils are often used to help:

  • Regulate mood
  • Help calm anxiety, stress, or hyperactivity
  • Reduce fear or timid behavior
  • Promote healthy sleep cycles
  • Decrease discomfort due to chronic pain, swelling, or infection
  • Decrease frequency or intensity of some seizures
  • Help promote healthy levels of inflammation
  • Promote healthy skin and coat
  • Support general health and potentially help decrease the risk of some disease
  • Increase health and happiness

How Much CBD Oil Is Good for Cats? 

The dosage for cats is even more important than for dogs as cats tend to be more sensitive. Ensure you’re getting a CBD product that has been designed for cats and that you’re using the appropriate amounts. 

Providing the proper, effective dose of a quality CBD for cats is essential. How much CBD oil is good for cats depends on their size. It may also take some experimentation to find what works best. Start with a lower amount and gradually work up to the full amount. Remember to carefully watch your cat to see how they respond. 

That said, using too little as well as too much CBD may make the product less effective. 4 Here’s the recommended dosage:

Cats typically require a larger dosage than dogs per pound (approximately two times). However, to date, no clinical trials have been completed specifically for felines.

  1. mL = 2 drop

300 mg in a 15 mL bottle

CBD density is 20 mg/mL

Observe your cat’s response to the CBD and then adjust slightly if needed. Take your time as you introduce your cat to the CBD product. Remember that slower is better as they adjust to the CBD.

Finally, work with your veterinarian on the right dosage for your cat and their condition. Acute conditions like an upper respiratory infection may respond better to higher levels (e.g., 5 mg/kg twice daily). While chronic conditions like arthritis may respond better to a smaller amount of .1 mg/kg twice daily, working up to .5 mg/kg twice per day.

If you have any questions on dosage, feel free to contact us with questions. We’re here to help!

How to Give CBD Oil to Pets

Making any changes to your cat’s diet can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are different methods to give CBD oil to pets. Perhaps the easiest is to just provide it using a pet-friendly flavored CBD oil orally. Some favorite flavors include bacon, salmon, and chicken. If your pet isn’t interested in the oil, though, it can also be mixed into their food or baked into cat-friendly treats.

CBD Side Effects in Cats

The most common side effect for cats is drowsiness. This isn’t always easy to observe with a cat’s tendency to catnap. But you can observe if your cat seems to be sleeping more once you’ve added CBD oil to their diets. If they do appear less active than previously, reduce the amount. 

Other side effects to watch for include tummy troubles. That is, some cats experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a change in appetite. Others may begin licking more than usual or start shaking their heads, or show signs of decreased coordination or light-headedness. 5 Again, if you notice any changes, decrease the dosage, and reach out to your veterinarian who’s experienced with using CBD for pets.

Never use CBD from marijuana or a CBD product made for human consumption with your pets as it may contain THC (especially if purchased from a dispensary). Other compounds in marijuana can be harmful or even toxic to pets. Instead, make sure your CBD products are only sourced from hemp and are made for our furry friends.

Also, make sure your cat always has access to clean water as CBD oil may increase their thirst and water intake. 

Is CBD Oil Good for Cats: The Bottom Line

CBD has grown in popularity with both people and pets—for good reason. It has been shown to have powerful, positive effects when used appropriately. 

Both professional veterinarians and pet parents have given their cats CBD oils for a wide range of conditions. They’ve found quality CBD oils are well-received, typically cause no harm or side effects, and provide benefits. 

That said, all cats are different. So, it’s important to watch for any adverse effects, and talk with your veterinarian if you have any questions about your cat’s response.  

Ready to see how the best CBD for pets—ABSC Organics—can help your pet live a more vibrant, healthy life? Get started here

Related Information: 


1. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Kogan LR, Hellyer PW. A report of adverse effects associated with the administration of cannabidiol in healthy dogs. Vet Med. 2018;1:6-8. https://www.ahvma.org/wp-content/uploads/AHVMA-2018-V52-CannabisAdverseEffects.pdf

2. McGrath S, Bartner LR, Rao S, Packer RA, Gustafson DL. Randomized blinded controlled clinical trial to assess the effect of oral cannabidiol administration in addition to conventional antiepileptic treatment on seizure frequency in dogs with intractable idiopathic epilepsy. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 2019 Jun 1;254(11):1301-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31067185/

3. Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, Schwark WS, Mann S, Wolfe L, Brown H, Berthelsen ES, Wakshlag JJ. Pharmacokinetics, safety, and clinical efficacy of cannabidiol treatment in osteoarthritic dogs. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 2018:165. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30083539/

4. Cindy HJ, Rupasinghe HV. Cannabidiol-based natural health products for companion animals: Recent advances in the management of anxiety, pain, and inflammation. Research in Veterinary Science. 2021 Nov 1;140:38-46. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0034528821002538#bb04405. Deabold KA, Schwark WS, Wolf L, Wakshlag JJ. Single-dose pharmacokinetics and preliminary safety assessment with use of CBD-rich hemp nutraceutical in healthy dogs and cats. Animals. 2019 Oct 19;9(10):832. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826847/