The world of CBD can feature a lot of debate, vagueness, and unsupported claims. But here’s a subject with a clear, definitive answer: you should always be giving your dog CBD oil that’s derived from hemp plants, not marijuana.

What is hemp?

The term hemp is used when referring to cannabis that’s been cultivated for industrial and non-recreational or medical use. Somewhat counterintuitively, hemp is almost always cannabis Sativa, but any potentially psychoactive components are long-bred out of the plant by the time it can be accurately referred to as hemp.

Because it’s not psychoactive in plant form, CBD oil that’s made from hemp cannot produce a mind-altering effect, which adds a layer of assurance for pets owners introducing their dogs to CBD.

Hemp plant growing outdoorsIndustrial hemp

Traditionally, manufacturers using hemp products have aimed to ensure legality by only working with what’s known as industrial hemp—this is cannabis with a THC concentration of under 0.3 percent.

Industrial hemp complies with DEA exemptions on the use of THC-free cannabis derivatives in manufacturing.

Industrial hemp has a long history as an ingredient or material with a huge variety of uses. High tensile strength makes hemp a suitable material for creating ropes, sails, and binding.

From edible products to cosmetics, hemp can also be found in many contemporary household items. The plant fibers are also valued for fabrics used in clothes, furniture, and bed linens.

Why is hemp CBD oil better for dogs?

CBD oil made from hemp can contain as much, or even more, CBD than oil made from marijuana. It cannot, however, contain unsafe amounts of THC, because the hemp plants themselves cannot contain more than a 0.3 percent concentration of the cannabinoid by legal definition.

As a result, hemp CBD oil offers all of the benefits with none of the risks – which is why all recommendation in our best CBD oils for dogs list are derived from hemp.

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants with distinctive, serrated leaves that originated in Asia. Exactly how many cannabis species exist is a matter of dispute, but the two majorly recognized and farmed species are cannabis Sativa and cannabis Indica.

Weed/pot/grass/other slang terms

Most slang terms for cannabis relate to THC-rich Sativa flowers—these are the strains of cannabis that when ingested by eating or inhaling, release cannabinoids that produce a psychoactive, mind-altering high. Slang terms like ‘weed’ are not generally associated with hemp or CBD.

What is marijuana?

marijuana leaf and budsThe term marijuana can refer to cannabis Sativa or Indica, but whatever the subspecies, marijuana plants will contain a psychoactive cocktail of cannabinoids. In other words, they can get you (and your dog) high.

As a result, CBD oils made from marijuana plants tend to have higher THC concentrations than those made from hemp—with concentrations deliberately strong enough to produce a high.

Confusingly, some marijuana-derived CBD oils are labeled as ‘cannabis oil.’ Of course, this is technically incorrect, as all CBD oils are extracted from cannabis plants, making every CBD-containing product a cannabis oil.

The reason for this mislabeling is likely due to the way in which cannabis has become culturally associated with THC, Sativa, and its mind-altering effects. As a result, non-intoxicating hemp plants have become somewhat culturally separated from other cannabis strains—even though they are from the same plant genus.

Why is marijuana (cannabis) CBD oil not okay for dogs?

Extracted correctly, CBD oil derived from marijuana may be safe for dogs to consume.

However, cannabis extractions aren’t necessarily an exact science, especially in terms of the exact levels of cannabinoids in a resulting product. This means there’s a higher likelihood that oil extracted from marijuana will contain some psychoactive cannabinoids, which don’t mix well with dogs.

When under the influence of THC, dogs can become confused, agitated, and frightened. Physically, they may suffer tremors, sudden bursts of energy, and urinary incontinence. In rare cases, dogs have been intoxicated to the extent that they experience seizures and/or coma.

It’s worth noting that very small amounts of THC, which some marijuana-derived CBD oils contain, are unlikely to harm your pup. But, they’re also unlikely to contribute to any of the anxiety or inflammation-reducing benefits that dogs use CBD for—which begs the question, why take the risk?


  • Both marijuana and hemp are terms for the cannabis Sativa plant.

  • Marijuana refers to cannabis with higher levels of THC, the cannabinoid capable of producing a mind-altering effect. Marijuana is illegal at the federal level and has variable status among states.

  • Hemp is the term used to describe cannabis for industrial use and contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

  • CBD oil for dogs can be made from either marijuana or hemp, but whatever type of oil owners choose, they should never expose their dogs to THC levels over 0.3 percent.

  • Because it can be difficult to ensure low levels of THC in oil made from marijuana, the safest way to ensure correct THC levels is to always choose CBD oil produced from hemp.