Heidi Hill founded Holistic Hound pet store in 2003 in Berkeley, California, to blend her two passions: animals and holistic health care. With a focus on nutrition, complementary therapies and education, she made it her mission to improve the health and wellness of dogs and cats.
A graduate of the Pacific Academy of Homeopathy in 1997, Heidi decided to combine her knowledge of animals with her understanding of the healing power of phytocannabinoids and medicinal mushrooms to formulate a line of supplements to help many more people and their animals. In 2016, Holistic Hound launched a line of high-quality, phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) hemp oil and mushroom supplements.
Holistic Hound’s full-spectrum PCR hemp oil is derived from organic, whole-plant hemp grown in Colorado. It’s been reported to help reduce inflammation, promote calm, support immune function and maintain a healthy intestinal tract. Meanwhile, its mushroom supplements, which are also certified organic, are reported to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.
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HelloMD spoke with Heidi to find out more about how she got started as well as what makes Holistic Hound’s products stand out from other hemp-based pet products on the market today.
For the last 15 years, you’ve professionally focused within the pet health and wellness sector. How did you get there, and what have you learned?
Heidi Hill: At the start of my career, I spent 20 years in the corporate world—in finance, human resources and sales. Although I loved my work, I’ve always been passionate about health. I ultimately went back to school and earned a certificate of homeopathy, fulfilling my ultimate desire to practice homeopathy on animals.
Around that time, I also got my first puppy in over 25 years, Pearl, which further changed my life and solidified my passion for doing something more heart-focused by working with animals. The blend of these two passions led to the opening of the Holistic Hound store in Berkeley, California. Our focus has always been on holistic health and wellness for animals, and we’re still going strong after 15 years.
Why did you decide to launch a line of pet supplements made of cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp?
HH: We began selling a line of CBD treats for dogs at Holistic Hound about four years ago and customers consistently shared positive feedback on the great results they were having with their animals. I immersed myself in learning as much as I could about the amazing benefits of hemp and cannabis, and became intensely interested in learning as much as I could about this amazing healing plant.
I’ve always had a desire to create my own line of products to complement the store and finally found something I could feel passionate about. A year and a half later, in 2016, we launched our own unique line of Holistic Hound hemp supplements.
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The combination of mushroom extract and CBD seems really unique. What made you think this combination might have more efficacy as a pet supplement?
HH: I’ve seen the many benefits of medicinal mushrooms, and have been selling and using them for years. So, I loved the idea of creating a product that combined mushrooms with the additional incredible benefits of hemp. We get consistent customer feedback that our products are more effective than others they’ve tried, and I believe that this is due to this powerful combination.
What are the most common reasons pet owners typically seek out CBD pet supplements?
HH: Most commonly, we see people using CBD to help reduce:
- chronic illness
In your experience, what pet conditions see the most efficacy when using CBD?
HH: It’s easiest to witness a reduction in anxiety and pain, but we have hundreds of testimonials citing the many other benefits.
You use the term PCR hemp oil instead of CBD. Why?
HH: CBD has been the term commonly used for products containing cannabidiol. However, CBD is only one of the many beneficial cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The term CBD could also be used to denote an isolate product—one that contains CBD only.
Phytocannabinoid-rich, or PCR, hemp oil is a term that’s more indicative of the full-spectrum oil used in Holistic Hound supplements. There are many other beneficial constituents found in the cannabis plant that also contribute to its healing properties, such as other cannabinoids as well as terpenes and flavonoids.
All of these compounds work together synergistically to provide what’s known as the entourage effect, which provides greater benefit than an isolate will.
You have two different product types: pet tinctures and pet “bites.” Why would someone choose one product over another?
HH: Preference. If you have a very food-motivated dog, it might be easier to dose them with a bite as they’re very palatable. Some find the tinctures easier and more effective. The active ingredients also vary between products.
All of our bites also contain our blend of five organic certified mushrooms; one of our five PCR tincture varieties contains Chaga mushroom extract while the others don’t. Results will be better for both if given on an empty stomach, or away from other food.
How does your product stand out when placed next to your competitors?
HH: There are many CBD products on the market right now, but they aren’t all of the same quality. We use only the highest-quality ingredients, including organic, full-spectrum, phytocannabinoid-rich oil; certified, organic medicinal mushrooms; pasture-raised chicken; grass-fed lamb liver; and more. We also provide third-party testing and transparency throughout.
Is CBD derived from hemp comparable to CBD that comes from the cannabis marijuana plant? What’s the difference?
HH: Our plants are a hybrid and not unlike marijuana, but they meet the legal definition of hemp by containing less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). While some people believe products derived from marijuana are superior, I’m not aware of any studies that exist confirming that, and we have strong anecdotal evidence that hemp products are extremely effective.
While cannabis-derived products can currently only be legally sold in licensed dispensaries in the states where the plants are cultivated, products that are derived from hemp can be sold online and at traditional retail outlets in all 50 states, making them both an effective and more accessible option.
What hemp-derived products do you like and why?
HH: I like any hemp-derived products of all varieties: tinctures, edibles or bites, salves, capsules and more. Choosing one just depends on the particular condition and what works best for each individual person or animal.
Can anyone from anywhere purchase Holistic Hound CBD products?
HH: Yes, most people in the U.S. can purchase Holistic Hound products freely either in their local store or online. However, there are still some legal challenges within some states and/or local municipalities, so even though we believe our products to be fully legal under the Farm Bill of 2014, some restrictions do exist. Although we’d love to sell internationally, due to current regulations we can’t sell Holistic Hound products outside of the United States.
Do you have advice for anyone who wants to purchase CBD derived from hemp for their pets?
HH: If you’re considering purchasing a hemp-derived CBD product, it’s important to do your own research to determine the quality of each individual product. You should also seek out a trusted retailer that has meticulously vetted their products, and consult your veterinarian when possible. Please also be aware that CBD products can’t be sold or recommended by veterinarians in some states, including California.
What general advice do you have for pet owners when it comes to the health and wellness of their pets?
HH: For optimal health and wellness, it’s really important to feed your pet a species-appropriate diet—raw or home cooked, ideally—and make sure they get ample exercise and training, good holistic health care, supplements when needed and, of course, lots of love.