Getting Healthy with Hemp

Pet retailers can capitalize on the increase in popularity of cannabis-based products through consumer education and smart product selection.




Cannabis has been in the news a lot lately as more states move toward legalization. And with the rise in understanding the benefits of cannabis products (specifically the hemp variety), pet parents are starting to take notice.


“Hemp-based products are becoming a bigger, more mainstream part of our world’s health and wellness conversations,” says Immacula Pierre, founder and CEO of Woodbridge, Va.-based Iconic Paws Natural Products. “People who are conscious about their health are also conscious about their pet’s health, and they’re open to products using the same quality ingredients they use to keep themselves healthy.”


This relatively new category of hemp and cannabinoid products presents a great opportunity for a new revenue stream for retailers. In 2016, the legal cannabis market topped $7 billion, and by 2020 it is expected to create more jobs than manufacturing.


It also allows retailers to serve as an expert resource for customers, especially considering the number of misconceptions surrounding cannabis-related products.


“With cannabinoid and hemp products increasing in popularity, it’s important for retailers to make sure they understand the basics of these products, what the ingredients are and how they can help pets with joint problems, arthritis, or other ailments,” says Pierre. “Many customers are curious about these products but are unfamiliar due to long-standing stigmas about cannabis, so knowledge is power. The more we all know about the health benefits of hemp-based products, the better.”


Of course, the biggest myth about these products is that they will get pets high.


Cannabis plants contain different compounds known as cannabinoids, which interact with animals’ endocannabinoid system. This system helps maintain the body’s physiological, neurological and immunological functions.


The most well-known cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is a psychoactive compound and therefore what causes the “high” or “stoned” sensation associated with marijuana. CBD, on the other hand, is responsible for many of the purported health benefits and is the cannabinoid utilized in pet products.


Like humans, pets can benefit from hemp and CBD in a wide variety of ways.

“Phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids derived from plants) may help pets suffering from a myriad of conditions including anxiety, mobility issues, seizures, general pain, loss of appetite and more,” says Julianna Carella, founder and CEO of Treatibles. “Dogs are especially responsive to phytocannabinoids as they have the highest concentration of cannabinoid receptors in their brains and bodies compared to other animals, including humans.”


According to a survey of Treatibles’ customers, the hemp-based products are most commonly used to treat anxiety, with joint issues and pain management coming in second.


The Oakland, Calif.-based manufacturer produces a line of grain-free hard chews made with phytocannabinoid rich (PCR) oil derived from medicine-grade hemp. Treatibles chews come in four different flavors—Pumpkin, Blueberry, Turkey and Tater’s Sweet Potato—to please any pet.


Treats aren’t the only way for pets to experience the health benefits of CBD. St. Petersburg, Fla.-based manufacturer Nature’s Pet Herbals, for instance, offers an oral spray for pet anxiety, a topical oil spray for pain relief and naturally flavored oil drops, in addition to treats. So, no matter how picky a pet is, owners can find a treatment option that works.


All-Natural Solutions

Hemp-based products are a perfect complement to the overall pet industry’s trend toward more natural ingredients. An increasing number of pet parents today are concerned about the impact of harsh chemicals and medications on their four-legged friends, so they’re turning to more plant-based products.


“Many pets suffer unnecessary side effects from harsh pain medications, which can make us pet owners wonder if it’s even worth it to make them take the medicine if it’s going to make them feel sick in another way,” says Pierre. “Fortunately, hemp products are much gentler on the body than many popular prescription medications, so you can give your pets a daily dose without worrying about how it will affect their liver or kidneys.”


Iconic Paws’ jerky treats are an excellent option for owners looking to keep pets happy and healthy, and potentially avoid the need for costly pain medications. The treats are made with 100 percent organic chicken, sweet potato and hemp for hip and joint support. Plus, the jerky features zero grains, fillers or hormones, and is made in the USA.


The cost of prescription medications and veterinary visits are also on the rise, so owners are actively seeking out ways to prevent poor health conditions before they happen.


“Retailers will find their customers asking about all-natural products that promote health so that they can avoid any costly medical bills while preventing their pets from becoming ill,” says Ravi Singh, CEO of Advance Pet Product in Waterford, Mich. “They want to maintain their pets’ good health rather than dealing with the consequences later.”


Best known as a manufacturer of stainless steel pet supplies, Advance Pet Product is introducing its first new Health and Wellness line at the 2018 Global Pet Expo. The line includes the dog wellness brand K9 Herbal, which will feature a new Hemp Oil and Cheese dog biscuit. The tasty treat is made with all-natural ingredients, to maintain pet health.


“Hemp is very rich in omega fatty acids and provides dogs with heart health, immune support, hip and joint relief, and a lustrous fur and coat,” adds Singh.


Staying Safe

Of course, with any new product category, consumers are concerned about safety. It’s up to retailers to do their research and select reputable manufacturers to ensure pet parents feel confident about what they’re feeding their animal companions.


“Pet Releaf stands out because of our quality, manufacturing process, transparency, and commitment to independent retailers. We control our entire manufacturing process, from seed to sale, from plant to pet,” explains Chelsea Joyce, vice president of sales for Pet Releaf.


The Littleton, Colo.-based company’s specialized hemp strain is grown at the largest certified USDA organic hemp farm in the U.S. The oil extraction process only uses super critical CO2 with zero toxic solvents or chemicals. Plus, Pet Releaf sends all of its products out for monthly testing by third-party labs, so consumers can feel confident about the company’s CBD-infused offerings, including Edibites dog treats, hemp oil, and Canna Care topical treatments.


It’s not everyday that a new category hits the ground running like hemp and cannabinoid products have in the pet industry. That’s why it’s important for retailers to get informed now so they can become customers’ go-to resource for all-natural health products for years to come.


“The future of this category is clearly one of success and growth. Although there are regulatory hurdles and a lack of much needed research, we are hopeful that our customers will be able to rely on the products that their animals have been accustomed to enjoying for health and wellness,” adds Carella.  PB


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