Hemp oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is made from cold-pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. It contains little to no CBD or other cannabinoids, and instead is high in essential fatty acids and other nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and minerals.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is made from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of the hemp plant, containing high levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids. It is used for a variety of therapeutic purposes, such as reducing anxiety, alleviating pain and inflammation, and promoting relaxation.
In short, hemp oil is used as a dietary supplement due to its high nutrient content, while CBD oil is used for therapeutic purposes thanks to its high concentration of cannabidiol and other cannabinoids.
Despite the attention, it can be hard to get clear on exactly what each product offers owners, and what the differences are between CBD and hemp when given to dogs.
This post is intended to help clear things up.
Basic CBD & hemp questions
What is CBD oil?
CBD stands for cannabidiol—a derivative of the hemp plant, extracted and pressed into an essential oil.
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid, which means that it’s one of the active ingredients in cannabis. However, CBD differs from the other major active ingredient, THC, as it has zero effect on your perception and cognitive functioning. In other words, it doesn’t get you or your dog high!
CBD is now becoming recognized worldwide as a safe and side-effect-free natural remedy. Many studies on the consumption of CBD oil have found no ill-effects or addictive properties.
While dogs cannot overdose on CBD, some CBD products may contain THC. Make sure any dog-specific products contain less than 0.3% THC, like the ones in our 2023 best CBD oil for dogs.
What is Hemp Seed oil?
Like CBD, hemp seed oil is derived, not surprisingly, from the hemp plant. The difference with hemp seed oil being that it is not a cannabinoid, which means that it contains no active CBD or THC. Those properties are only found in the cannabis flower, and to some extent, the leaf.
As a pressed seed with a distinctive, nutty flavor, hemp seed oil has enjoyed a longer and wider reputation than CBD as a medicinal and cooking product. You can use hemp seed oil as a salad dressing, a skin supplement, or an antioxidant supplement. It might help to think of hemp seed oil as a more luxurious version of sunflower oil!
Note: things can get confusing when people refer to CBD and other cannabinoid oils as ‘hemp oil.’
Because all of these oils derive in some way or another from the hemp plant, calling them all hemp oil does seem reasonable. Because of this, however, ensure that you check carefully before purchasing any hemp oil product to ensure that it is indeed hemp seed oil, if that is in fact what you’re looking for.
Are we talking about marijuana here?
No—but kind of! Hemp plants are indeed a variety of the cannabis plant but are not bred to maximize yields of the marijuana flower. Instead, hemp is grown for all sorts of reasons, including clothing and paper, as well as health uses.
That said, with the rise of the legal cannabis industry, many growers who would have once solely focused on THC products, are now developing plant strains designed specifically for the creation of CBD oil and supplements.
CBD, hemp & dogs
Which oil is better for treating pain in dogs?
When it comes to managing pain, both oils have their own area of focus. Hemp seed oil can be thought of as more of an ongoing dietary supplement to help manage and support painful conditions such as arthritis, to which CBD oil is also considered a remedy.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is a more acute treatment for aches and pains and is often combined by owners with other prescribed medications. (Note: even though CBD is a natural product, always check with your vet before doubling up on treatments.)
Which oil is better for treating anxiety in dogs?
Unless your pup is anxious about a dull and lifeless coat, hemp seed oil doesn’t have too much in the way of an anti-anxiety effect. Joking aside, however, hemp seed oil is often used as part of a routine to regain mobility in dogs, the lack of which can exacerbate anxiety.
Again, CBD oil is the option to go for if you’re looking for a calming or healing effect, thanks to its cannabinoid properties.
Other general questions
Are CBD and hemp oil legal?
Because it’s not a cannabinoid, hemp seed oil is almost always legal.
Although it’s fast-changing, CBD oil is a slightly different story. As of now CBD oil, even for use on dogs, is still federally classified as illegal, along with marijuana in the US. This hasn’t stopped a growing number of states from giving their citizens the greenlight for CBD and THC alike.
Will my vet prescribe CBD or hemp oil?
It’s always important to let your vet know if your dog is taking any natural remedies or supplements, as a safety precaution against any possible unwanted interactions with prescribed medications.
As for whether your vet is likely to recommend CBD or hemp oil, it really depends on their personal experience and research. As said, we’re still waiting for the formal studies to come in on the benefits of hemp on dogs, but it’s also pretty likely that your vet will have been hearing good things about CBD and other hemp products from owners and their pups!