Preventative Maintenance Series #3: Oxidative Stress

The endocannabinoid system plays a critical role in maintaining homeostasis within the body during periods of oxidative stress (Atalay et al., 2019). The endocannabinoid system is regulated by the ingestion of cannabinoids via hemp products and the animal’s cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1 Receptor) and cannabinoids receptor type 2 (CB2 receptor) already present in the body (Atalay et al., 2019). Hemp seeds can be utilized as a resource for food, fiber, dietary oil, or for its medicinal properties dating back hundreds of years (Girgih et al., 2014). Hemp seeds are comprised of 30% oil and 25% protein with current research being focused on how hemp seeds have the ability to discard toxic free radicals in the body (Girgih et al., 2014). When an animal is constantly under high stress or their body is infected with a disease, free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are over produced in response to these changes and can cause damage to nearby cells (Girgih et al., 2014). The increased number of free radicals and ROS in the body can lead to inflammation and even cell death which will trigger natural cell processes to cease immediately (Girgih et al., 2014). “These effects can cause severe damage to cells, produce a high oxidative stress condition and enhance the development or progression of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes and obesity” (Girgih et al., 2014). Oxidative stress is part of the natural aging process and can also be induced if an animal is over-exercised (Sechi et al., 2017).

Causes and Dangers of Oxidative Stress in Dogs

Oxidative stress can be seen in dogs when they exert themselves to a point of exhaustion. (Sechi et al., 2017). Oxidative stress caused by too much exercise for a dog may lead to increased muscle fatigue, muscle fiber damage, and may even advance to damaging their immune system (Sechi et al., 2017). This has been seen in animals that race such as dogs and horses as well as animals that compete in physical exercise competitions (Sechi et al., 2017). Within an animal’s body, their muscles and blood system are enriched with antioxidants to combat the destruction of free radicals (Sechi et al., 2017). Natural metabolic reactions continually take place in order to maintain homeostasis between the creation of free radicals and antioxidants (Sechi et al., 2017). If that balance is altered by animals overexerting themselves, the homeostatic balance will be altered leading to an increased production in free radicals and ROS (Sechi et al., 2017). Another component that may increase or decrease the amount of oxidative stress that a dog incurs throughout their lifetime is their size (Jimenez et al., 2018).

Aging and Oxidative Stress in Dogs Small and Large

Dog sizes can vary from small chihuahuas to extremely large mastiffs however smaller breeds have a lengthened lifespan compared to bigger dog breeds (Jimenez et al., 2018). The size of a dog is associated with their metabolic rate including mitochondrial function (Jimenez et al., 2018). Mitochondria provide a critical source of energy within cells and are most affected by oxidative damage due to ROS production taking place within mitochondrial organelles (Jimenez et al., 2018). When the mitochondria are damaged from oxidative stress, gene expression can be altered leading to structural damage (Jimenez et al., 2018). “The “oxidative stress” theory of aging states that aging is not a genetically programmed phenomenon, but it happens because of the deleterious damage of oxidative stress on the genetic machinery” (Jimenez et al., 2018). Large dog breeds experience cell turnover more frequently which may enhance their likelihood of being more prone to structural damage from oxidative stress compared to small dog breeds (Jimenez et al., 2018 This concept plays a pivotal role in the aging process of dogs (Jimenez et al., 2018). Chronic oxidative stress in large dogs may lead to increased rates of disease and an earlier mortality rate compared to smaller breeds (Jimenez et al., 2018). In this specific study, large breed dogs demonstrated a larger percentage of DNA damage compared to small breed dogs (Jimenez et al., 2018). DNA that has been damaged from oxidative stress can cause the cell lifespan to shorten from the negative impact of gene modifications (Jimenez et al., 2018). In large dog breeds, the DNA repair mechanism stops working earlier in a dog’s lifespan compared to small breeds (Jimenez et al., 2018). With an increased rate of cell turnover and a shorter period of DNA repair mechanisms, large dog breeds may be more susceptible to oxidative stress than smaller breeds (Jimenez et al., 2018). Further research is needed to measure dogs oxidative stress levels over their entire lifespan comparing small and large breed dogs and oxidative stress levels, antioxidant enzyme levels, free radicals, and ROS production. A larger sample size is also needed to incorporate medium size dogs as well and see how they compare to small and large dog breeds in their overall oxidative stress levels. Incorporating hemp products into a dog’s diet may be a preventative maintenance tool when taking action against oxidative stress as a vital component of the aging process.

Hemp Seed Meal Protein Hydrolysate (HMH)

 Hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate (HMH) may be a possible preventative maintenance option for dogs when battling oxidative stress. HMH was able to decrease oxidative stress in hypertensive rats (Girgih et al., 2014). In this study , it was concluded that HMH reduced the rate of lipid peroxidation which caused oxidative stress leading to an overproduction of free radicals and ROS (Girgih et al., 2014). This mechanism of action decreased lipid peroxidation which lead to an increase in antioxidant enzymes in the body and a decreased oxidative stress response (Girgih et al., 2014). HMH contains specific amino acids that form peptides with the ability to “neutralize ROS in addition to preventing metal-catalyzed lipid peroxidation” (Girgih et al., 2014). This is demonstrated when HMH peptides are absorbed in the body via ingestion and block the accumulation of harmful lipid peroxides in the blood stream (Girgih et al., 2014). This will decrease the body’s exposure to toxic levels of radical compounds which will lower the risk of disease caused by free radicals (Girgih et al., 2014). When ROS levels are lowered, non-enzymatic antioxidants are protected from adhering to oxidation which will increase the number of antioxidants in the body (Atalay et al., 2019) Further research is needed on how HMH may affect dogs over their lifespan as a preventative maintenance option for oxidative stress. Other ingredients in hemp products such as cannabidiol (CBD) may be a helpful tool to have when contending oxidative stress.

Research on CBD and Oxidative Stress

CBD also plays a major role in reducing oxidative stress within the body (Atalay et al., 2019). CBD has been analyzed to contain (30-50%) more antioxidant properties compared to alpha- tocopherol or vitamin C (Atalay et al., 2019). “CBD protects lipids and proteins against oxidative damage by modulating the level of oxidative stress, which participates in cell signaling pathways” (Atalay et al., 2019). CBD will utilize the redox system which transfers electrons from free radicals and modifies them into less active molecules (Atalay et al., 2019). CBD is also involved in the Fenton Reaction through the chelation of transition metal ions which may include sodium, magnesium, copper, zinc and other metals not listed depending upon what the animal ingests over their lifetime (Atalay et al., 2019). Chelating transitional metals will decrease the creation of ROS in the body (Atalay et al., 2019). When transitional metal ions are chelated, their concentration is reduced in the body (Atalay et al., 2019). Reduced transitional metal ion concentration in the body has been demonstrated to slow down the formation of B-amyloids in neurons which is part of the aging process (Atalay et al., 2019). Hemp products containing HMH and CBD may play an essential role in dogs and all animals as they naturally accumulate oxidative stress through free radicals and ROS production as a part of the natural aging process. Currently, I was not able to find any studies associated with dogs who were treated with hemp to combat oxidative stress and what positive or negative impact that may have over their lifespan. Further research is needed to see how hemp products may affect oxidative stress levels in a dog’s body over their entire lifespan. Further research is also required to see what impact CBD or HMH will have on dogs when administered for their entire lifespan as a preventative maintenance tool.

Keywords: Oxidative Stress, CBD, HMH, CB1, CB2, ROS, Antioxidants, free radicals, dogs, horses, endocannabinoid system, Mitochondria

Hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate- (HMH)
Reactive Oxygen Species- (ROS)
Cannabidiol- (CBD)
Cannabinoid type 1 receptor- (CB1 receptor)
Cannabinoid type 2 receptor- (CB2 receptor)


1. Girgih, A. T., Alashi, A. M., He, R., Malomo, S. A., Raj, P., Netticadan, T., & Aluko, R. E. (2014). A novel hemp seed meal protein hydrolysate reduces oxidative stress factors in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Nutrients, 6(12), 5652–5666.

2. Atalay, S., Jarocka-Karpowicz, I., & Skrzydlewska, E. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 9(1), 21.

3. Sechi, S., Fiore, F., Chiavolelli, F., Dimauro, C., Nudda, A., & Cocco, R. (2017). Oxidative stress and food supplementation with antioxidants in therapy dogs. Canadian journal of veterinary research = Revue canadienne de recherche veterinaire, 81(3), 206–216.

4. Jimenez, A. G., Winward, J., Beattie, U., & Cipolli, W. (2018). Cellular metabolism and oxidative stress as a possible determinant for longevity in small breed and large breed dogs. PloS one, 13(4), e0195832.

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