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Pets and Terpenes: Are terpenes really bad for pets?

Written by David Reich  — Fact checked by Piet Hellemans, DVM

In this article you will learn:

  • Are terpenes really dangerous for pets?
    Terpenes present in CBD and terpene-rich hemp oils combine well with CBD’s properties contributing to the entourage effect. Isolated terpenes, as well as products with an enhanced terpene profile, can be toxic to pets.
  • Why some CBD products for pets contain terpenes?
    The amount of terpenes in pet CBD products is usually not high enough to have any harmful effects on pets.

Let’s talk about pets and terpenes

Have you ever thought why certain plants attract animals or why pets like to eat grass? It’s possible that the terpenes are to blame.

You may be aware that hemp belongs to the cannabaceae family (Cannabis sativa). You may also be aware that hemp contains over 100 phytocannabinoids, including the two most well-known — CBD and THC. However, you might not be aware that terpenes contribute to the hemp plant’s biological profile. They also help CBD to work more effectively.

What are terpenes

Terpenes are, first and foremost, natural. They’ve existed since the beginning of time. It’s just recently that we’ve been aware of this. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give plants their scent, colour, and taste.

About 20,000 terpenes have been identified, with over 100 of them found in the plants that produce CBD.

Terpenes are derived from the resin present in the cannabis plant’s trichomes, which is also where phytocannabinoids are found. Interestingly, some of the same terpenes found in hemp can also be found in other common seeds, spices, flowers, and fruits. It’s because of the terpenes that your pets may be attracted to such plants.

You’ll see tiny hair-like characteristics on female plants if you look closely at them, which you can do with a microscope. These trichomes are known as glandular trichomes. Terpenes from cannabis and hemp plants tuck themselves into these tiny hairs to protect themselves from pollinators and other pests.

Different types of terpenes

While a certain group of terpenes can be found in a cannabis or hemp plant, the consistency can vary. This is entirely dependent on the plant and how and where it was grown. The amount of light the plants get, soil management, humidity, and crop practices all influence how terpenes work. It’s almost impossible to calculate the amount of terpenes in each given plant.

The following terpenes are the most common in hemp oil:

Linalool, Limonene, B-Caryophyllene, Myrcene, Pinene

  • Myrcene is a terpene that can be found in a variety of herbs, including wild thyme, hops, lemongrass, basil, and even mango. Myrcene has a musky smell and imparts an earthy, salty, clove-like fragrance to cannabis.
  • One of the most common terpenes present in nature is limonene. It’s most definitely limonene that gives out a lemony or orangey citrus taste to the plants it is present in. 
  • Pinene is a compound present in pine tree resin and hemp. For most of us think of pine, we think of cleaning supplies.
  • Linalool is similar  to myrcene. It has a nice, natural floral fragrance with touches of citrus.
  • B-caryophyllene can be contained in black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, and, of course, hemp, scientists refer to B-caryophyllene as the “dietary terpene.

Can terpenes make my pet high?

Terpenes, unlike other phytocannabinoids, are not psychoactive. This ensures that, in theory,  pet owners can give their pets terpene-rich hemp oil without fear of getting them high.

While hemp and marijuana are both members of the cannabis family, their biological profiles are vastly different. Hemp is known for its high CBD content, while marijuana is known for its psychoactive THC content.

Are terpenes dangerous to pets?

In general – no. Terpenes present in CBD and terpene-rich hemp oils combine well with CBD’s properties contributing to the entourage effect, which occurs as all of the hemp plant’s phytochemicals act together.

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Nonetheless, dogs and cats have such keen senses of scent, they may be more sensitive to the aromas and chemicals. Isolated terpenes, as well as products with an enhanced terpene profile, can be toxic to pets. When considering the function of terpenes as defensive secondary metabolites, this makes a lot of sense. They’re made to scare away would-be predators. This is why some plants are toxic to pets.

So why are terpenes present in CBD pet products?

There’s a fair explanation for that. The amount of terpenes in pet CBD products is usually not high enough to have any harmful effects on them. All of NatuPet’s CBD oils for pets contain no added terpenes.  

Do Terpenes in Pet CBD Make a Difference?

Yes, terpenes in pet CBD do matter. When giving CBD to your pet, make sure the product does not contain any added terpenes or non-pet-friendly favours.

CBD isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. CBD has a bouquet of aromas, tastes, effects, and associations with the body. This is why you should always carefully read the formulation of any CBD product you purchase. CBD oil for humans may have an enhanced terpene profile depending on its intended purpose or may contain flavouring which is not well tolerated by pets. 

CBD Expert at | Website | posts

David is our expert for all things concerning CBD and your four-legged friends. Animals often need special attention and care and that's David’s specialty, but he’s also an expert in all CBD topics, so whatever your question, he's happy to help.

Piet Hellemans, DVM
Veterinarian & Veterinary Consultant | posts

Piet Hellemans, DVM has been a veterinarian since 2006 and currently practices in and around Amsterdam. He graduated from Universiteit Utrecht, earning his degree in Veterinary Medicine. He also works as a veterinary consultant and advises companies, individuals, and foundations on promoting animal welfare. In recent years, he’s become a strong advocate for the use of CBD on pets and has written numerous articles on other websites extolling its properties.

Piet is an advocate for the NatuPet brand and fact-checks our content, so we are sure to provide our readers with accurate information.

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