Hemp in Pet Products

Manufacturers of hemp-based pet products say items are in demand, but retailers should pay close attention to ingredients.




Few categories in the pet products industry can be associated with a conspiracy theory the way hemp can. Hemp, the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, is gaining popularity in everything from fabric to supplements to CBD products for humans and for pets. The recent growth is mostly due to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which allowed hemp cultivation. Before that, the hemp industry was quashed by (depending on who one asks) the cotton lobby, a paper mill owner, the DuPont family or other industrialists in the early 20th century.

Today, hemp is part of a booming industry where manufacturers have come up with products such as drops, treats and balms. The category has grown so much that the plethora of options might be confusing to retailers and consumers. The major companies in the space say stores and shoppers should pay special attention to hemp, especially as it relates to CBD products.

One source of confusion is that the terms hemp and CBD are often used interchangeably or written together in marketing materials. While the CBD category is exploding, there are also many products that contain hemp and are not CBD products. That’s because hemp has its own qualities, and manufacturers are trying to spread the word about some of the benefits of offering products that contain high-quality hemp.

“Hemp is a complete protein that packs antioxidants, minerals, fiber and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, including all nine essential amino acids for everyday health,” says Steve Smith, co-founder and president of Pet Releaf. “We believe that hemp is a natural superfood for our pets, and that hemp products using the entire plant, stalks, flower, seeds, etc., provides that added benefit of CBD and other healthy cannabinoids.”

Smith says consumers and retailers should pay attention to the ingredients in CBD products.

“We like to say that not all CBD and hemp products are the same,” he continues. “Retailers should be looking out for a product’s source of hemp, its method of extraction, whether a product uses the whole hemp plant or only the hemp seed. Retailers need to ask for proof from CBD companies regarding where their hemp is grown and how it is processed.”

Min S. Lee, president of brand development and co-founder of Honest Paws, explains that it’s up to retailers to make people more aware of the difference between hemp oil and CBD, as the term “hemp oil” is just another way for people to describe hemp seed oil, which does not contain CBD.

Hemp seed products, derived from the seeds of the hemp plant, include products used as dietary supplements, as the oil is rich in omega-fatty acids. Meanwhile, CBD is a naturally-occurring compound found in the other parts of the plant, such as flower, leaves or stalk.

As with any emerging category, the lack of standardized terms and labeling can cause consumer confusion.

“Unfortunately, there are definitely brands out there that are relying on this confusion and trying to cash in on CBD’s growing popularity by selling hemp seed oil products as CBD products,” Lee says. “The lesson here is to read the ingredients list. If it says hemp oil, hemp seed or hemp seed oil, it is not CBD that you are buying.”

For many pet owners, the omega fatty acids are an important feature in products, such as drops. Green Roads uses hemp seed oil in its products, which include drops for dogs and for cats. “We use the hemp seed oil, which has a lot of omegas,” says CEO and co-founder Laura Fuentes. “Omegas are very good for us and very good for animals too.”

Retailers and consumers should also note where the hemp is sourced, says Fuentes.

Retailers should look to carry products that have a QR code on the packaging that can take consumers directly to Certificates of Analysis.

“A lot of companies don’t produce QR codes or lab sheets,” she says. “It’s really important, because there is so much false information out there.”

Third party testing can help retailers choose the right products, as the emerging hemp and CBD industry is still undergoing growing pains, says Jon Neveloff, partner in King Kanine. Some companies simply put a paw print on the label to make the product attractive to pet owners, while others remove “CBD” from the label and replace it with “hemp,” so the products can be sold on Amazon, which does not sell CBD products.

“They need to do research because they are responsible for the stuff they are selling in the store,” Neveloff says.

Neveloff adds that hemp can be used for other products besides CBD items with the raw material from hemp.

Keeping it Clean
Organic and natural are also important trends in hemp products. Healthy Hemp Pet Company says its products contain CBD from the highest quality phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) hemp oil one can find on the market.

“Our PCR hemp oil is vapor distilled and contains no chemicals that are often used for CBD and/or hemp extraction,” says Dave Merrell, CEO and founder. “Not all hemp oils are the same, so consumers should do their research and inquire about certificates of analysis from makers of pet products that contain CBD or hemp oil.

“Hemp oil may help support joint function, flexibility and mobility,” continues Merrell. “It may also reduce the negative effects of stress and help animals cope with situational stress such as fireworks, crowds, separation, travel, motion sickness and tension.”

The CBD and hemp category will continue to grow, says Paul DiBrito, president of Paw CBD.

“Millions of people are turning to CBD and hemp-based products to support their daily wellness routines,” he says. “As they see positive results with their own use, they are naturally wanting to share those potential benefits with their pets as well.”

To raise awareness, cbdMD  founded several promotional days and months, such as National Pet CBD Month (October), National CBD Month (January), National Hemp Month (July), National Pet CBD Day (April 18) and National Hemp Day (Feb. 4).

“The proliferation of CBD oil products will only continue to grow as the market strives to meet the demand for more CBD options for pets,” DiBrito says.  PB


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