A Richmond-based startup company is entering the growing market for hemp-based pet products, with an innovative, science-backed solution.

Heirloom Pet Products launched its first three products at the beginning of the month — food toppers for pets made from water soluble organic hemp.

“Typically, CBD is an oil based product,” CEO and founder Jason Lysak said. “Our science that we use brings the oil down into something that’s water soluble, so it’s more easily absorbed by the body.”

The food toppers are available in three flavors: peanut butter and banana, bacon and cheddar, and chicken and turmeric.

Lysak spent about a year researching water soluble hemp options before the products were launched. He worked with a veterinarian to develop the recipes and was inspired by the flavors his own dogs love.

Heirloom Pets’ product line differs from the competition that primarily offers treats or oil.

“The market is like the Wild West. There are so many CBD oils and hemp pet treats on the market, it’s not even funny. We’re going away from that and breaking the mold and innovating,” Lysak said. “We saw that there was better science behind CBD products that was not being utilized.”

Most hemp-based products on the market aren’t effective because they’re oil based, even though a dog’s body is 70% to 80% water, he said.

“What do we know about oil and water? They don’t mix,” Lysak said. “With water soluble products, our dose is able to be absorbed 80 times greater than an oil product.”

Water soluble hemp is more easily and quickly absorbed. It starts working as soon as it hits a pet’s tongue, he said.

Lysak used to use CBD oil to treat his elderly dog’s hip problem, but he didn’t notice much of a difference. Since he switched to the water soluble food topper, his dog’s condition has improved.

There are few studies to back up the anecdotal health benefits of CBD products. CBD’s only proven medical use is to treat epilepsy.

“This is all anecdotal, but if you ask pet owners, they’re finding it’s helpful for arthritis, it’s helpful for anxiety,” spokeswoman Laura Peet said. “We’re not making medical claims.”

Heirloom Pets’ food toppers are available online, at Fin & Feather on Lakeside Avenue in Henrico County, and at CritterTown BathHouse in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center in Richmond.

The company was going to launch its products in March, but delayed its plans because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“On March 3, I sold five stores. Then [a week or so later], they announced the stay at home order. We pulled everything back and made sure our foundations were built really strong,” Lysak said. “It’s actually been good. You don’t ever want to rush the launch of a new product or new company, but of course it’s frustrating because you want to get out there.”

While the launch was postponed, Lysak developed several new products, which will be released throughout the next few months.

“We have a portfolio of 10 different products that we’re looking to bring to the market that are all unique and fill a void,” he said.

Along with launching new products, Lysak’s next goals are to expand the company’s retail footprint across the country and to find new distribution partners.

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