BRIDGEPORT â€” A Bridgeport startup company hopes to improve the lives of pet owners and their best friends with hemp-based pet products.
Happy Paws CBD Treats produces flavorful, all natural snacks infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid derived from industrial hemp that is thought to have numerous health benefits.
Owner Lee Arco said he and his team first began working on pet-focused applications for CBD about a year ago.
â€śWe have a separate company where we have a license to grow (industrial) hemp. So instead of us just growing the hemp and selling it â€” we are around pets all the time; we have five or six dogs ourselves â€” we thought that surely there was a way to get the health benefits to the pets,â€ť he said. â€śSo from there we just began experimenting with the oil and formulating a pet product recipe.â€ť
The company utilizes a special blend of oils to strengthen the intended benefits of its products, Arco said.
â€śA lot of the products on the market are using an MCT (medium-chain triglycerides) oils and really what that is just a dumbed-down help oil,â€ť he said. â€śThe oil we use a full-spectrum, meaning that not only do we use hemp, but we use coconut oil and the coconut oil extracts from all of the cannabinoids, which is more beneficial.â€ť
According to information on the companyâ€™s website, CBD is non-psychoactive and can be beneficial to numerous physiological functions such as inflammation, anxiety, appetite, digestion, mood and fatigue. CBD also contains antioxidants and fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory effects.
While many other CBD companies use imported oils in their products, all of the CBD in Happy Pawsâ€™ products come from hemp grown at one of the companyâ€™s two farms in Harrison County, Arco said.
â€śWe grow the hemp, harvest the hemp and then process it into oil,â€ť he said. â€śWhere Happy Paws comes in is that we purchase the full-spectrum oil (from our other company). From there, itâ€™s just like a bakery. Weâ€™re substituting vegetable oil with the hemp oil and making the treats.â€ť
The company currently sells just one flavor of pet snacks, peanut butter, but other flavors are in development, Arco said.
â€śWe have pumpkin flavoring in the works â€” that should be coming here in the next month or two,â€ť he said. â€śThen we are working on a meat flavoring and are working on a honey-flavored dog treat.â€ť
Presently Happy Paws sells its products on its website, but Arco said there are plans to open a physical location in the Bridgeport area.
â€śIn the next six months, weâ€™d like to open a brick-and-mortar store where you can come in to discuss the product, purchase the product and bring in your pets.â€ť
For every 10 bags of treats the company sells, one bag is donated to a local animal shelter, Arco said.
â€śWeâ€™re hoping to enlarge that,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re working with local humane societies to see how itâ€™s going to benefit them.â€ť
Manager Anu Hookano said the Happy Paws team sees CBD pet products as both a good business venture and a way to improve quality of life for pets.
â€śEveryone takes care of and loves their animals, so we thought it was a good market,â€ť he said. â€śWe also love our pets and our animals, so we just wanted to continue to try and make the pet world a better place.â€ť
He has seen numerous benefits from feeding his own pets the companyâ€™s products, Hookano said.
â€śIâ€™m often around a black lab that you could say has some anxiety issues,â€ť he said. â€śBut if you give him a treat or two, in the morning and at night, heâ€™s just a completely different dog. Heâ€™s a little bit more mellow, laid-back and relaxed. We also have a mastiff who has some hip issues, so muscle discomfort is huge. She is able to jog and walk around the farm a little more leisurely now.â€ť
Although CBD is starting to become more popular and several other businesses selling CBD products have recently opened in the county, Arco said his company has a â€śleg upâ€ť on the competition.
â€śRight now a good bit of companies are just jumping in; the landslide is coming,â€ť he said. â€śPeople are just trying to get in now, but weâ€™ve been in the industry for a few years now, so we have a familiarity with CBD and what all it does. But widespread legalization is opening the doors and removing the stigma. Iâ€™d say that within the next five years, weâ€™d like to see ourselves as a market-stable company, someone whoâ€™s been in the industry from the get-go, thatâ€™s selling a reputable, respectable product.â€ť
For more information visit www.happypawshemp.com.