Visiting your local pet store is usually a great way to speak to someone one-on-one about the CBD products they recommend. They’ve often been professionally educated, have tried different products and have customer testimonials about which products work the best. If you’re shopping online, on the other hand, it can be extremely confusing and overwhelming to research and compare hemp extract (CBD) products for your pet. It’s 2020, but we’re still living in an unregulated market, so anyone can say virtually anything on the label and put anything they want in their products. So, since all CBD products are not created equal, here are my top tips for choosing a CBD product for your pet.
Full Spectrum Products
Choose products that are labeled and contain full spectrum hemp extract. Unlike broad spectrum, isolates, or synthetic cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp extract (oil) contains ALL of the compounds naturally produced by the plant, including an array of cannabinoids like CBD, CBG, CBN and even trace amounts of THC. Full spectrum hemp extract also contains many essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, protein, chlorophyll, fiber, flavonoids, and terpenes. All these compounds need to work together for the product to be most effective. If you choose a product containing broad spectrum hemp extract or cannabinoid isolates, it is certain that beneficial elements have been removed, making the finished product less effective.
Organically grown in the United States
Choose products that are organically grown in the U.S. as outlined in the Farm Bill, and containing detectable levels of THC (within the legal limit of 0.3 percent or less). If your pet needs more THC, at the recommendation of your holistic vet or reputable pet care practitioner, you’ll have to visit a legal cannabis state to purchase these products.
Make sure there’s at least 3+ mg per serving of Cannabidiol (CBD), plus other naturally occurring cannabinoids, to have a meaningful effect. Higher concentrations of CBD per serving typically indicate products that not only have greater efficacy but are also more cost-effective. A product that has less than 3 mg CBD per serving will have to be administered in larger amounts and greater frequency to be as effective as one that contains 9 mg CBD per serving.
Extracted from the Flower
Products should be extracted from the flower, which will yield the richest compounds of the plant (cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids). While oil can be extracted from hemp stalks seeds, and stems, and products made with this extract may be cheaper, they will typically be much less effective than those made exclusively with extract from the hemp plants “aerial” parts such as the flowers, leaves, and buds.
Super critical CO2 extraction is the preferable method of extracting the medicinal compounds out of the flower, with the least damage to the compounds. While this method is generally more expensive, it yields a safer and higher quality product, doesn’t remove as many beneficial plant contents as other methods, and has a much lower chance of having contaminants.
Another hemp extraction method involves the use of olive oil and heat, making it safe and inexpensive. Unfortunately, this method results in much lower cannabinoid concentration in the end product and would require the pet parent to administer larger doses, more frequently, to get the same effect as hemp extract produced using CO2. Hemp extract produced using this method is also highly perishable, which results in a shorter shelf-life and storage limitations (must be kept in a cool, dark area).
Solvent extraction, although highly inexpensive, involves the use of ethanol, butane, propane, isopropyl or alcohol. It is a dangerous method due to the flammable nature of the components and often results in toxic residue being present in the finished product.
Certificate of Analysis (COA)
Products should have a COA (Certificate of Analysis), produced by a third-party laboratory, which is up to date and matches the batch number or other unique identifier on the product package (e.g. QR Code). Certificates should be easily found on the manufacturer’s website for each product. This will verify that they are full spectrum products by the presence of cannabinoids other than CBD, as well as detectable amounts of THC. Lab certificates or COAs should also indicate that the products don’t contain any harmful pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, heavy metals, or chemicals. The presence of any residual solvents may indicate that the product was NOT CO2-extracted.
Tinctures, Capsules, Salves, and Treats
Check the bioavailability/absorption rate of the product. Administering tinctures/oils sublingually (via the gums) is the most effective and efficient way to get the medicine into the bloodstream. Capsules and treats are not nearly as effective, as they must be broken down by the liver before entering the bloodstream.
MCT oil (made from coconut) and/or hemp seed oil in the product will improve the absorption rate. Be sure to look for organically grown coconut-based MCT Oil and hemp seed oil!
The emulsification of the oil when it’s produced also impacts the absorption rate. The more the oil is emulsified—resulting in reduced molecule size—the faster and more effectively the product will be absorbed into the bloodstream.
Ingredients help and don’t harm
Check any additional ingredients on the manufacturer’s website, in marketing literature, and on the product packaging to ensure the product does not contain any unnecessary or potentially harmful ingredients. Ingredients to avoid include artificial flavorings, sweeteners such as Stevia or Xylitol, preservatives, and fish or krill oil.
Made just for pets
Research the company and choose a product developed specifically for pets by a medical cannabis expert with the oversight and support of veterinary professionals. Look for reviews by customers who have tried the products, as well as any case studies, to substantiate the efficacy of the products. The latest clinical research on full spectrum hemp extract medicine and pets can be found at www.angelaardolino.com/petcbdresearch.
Product labels will tell you much of what you need to know, but you may need to visit each company’s website to find out about extraction and manufacturing practices, along with their current COA’s from a third-party laboratory. Remember, if a product or its pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. Quality Full Spectrum Hemp CBD is not cheap. Beware of multilevel marketing schemes and companies that ask you to sign up right away for recurring purchases.
Once you’ve researched a company, contact them to ask them questions directly, and make sure they can answer your questions about your pet, and how your pet’s specific needs can be addressed by their CBD product. If they can’t help you, or no one responds to your email, phone call or online chat, choose another company.
A few of my favorite pet hemp extract brands are:
Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years, and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of Beautify the Beast, a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit www.angelaardolino.com for more information.
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Written by samprice at cbddoghealth.com