Millions of pet parents are introducing CBD pet health supplements into their dog’s routine. And, as with dog food, choosing the right brand and product is essential for safe and effective use.
We asked Chou2 Pharma’s Dr. Jeff Pollard (DVM, DABVP), Chief Scientific Officer Blake Smith, and CEO Alexandra Wakim to help us narrow down your vast number of options to a few easy steps.
Before diving in, though, remember that your veterinarian knows your dog best and should always be informed of any decision related to your pet’s health. While this article consults veterinarians and cannabinoid experts, it’s no substitute for the client-patient relationship you’ve established with your vet — nor does it count as legal medical advice!
Start with the need-state
With CBD products found at every pet store, vet’s office, and gas station (don’t buy your CBD from a gas station, please), it’s easy to get caught up in the craze. Start by asking yourself — does my dog have a genuine need for support and how is that need being expressed?
Smith says, “Hip and joint issues, digestive concerns, nervousness, and lack of appetite, are signs that homeostasis is off, meaning your dog’s system is out of balance and needs support.”
Again, speak to your vet about this.
Learn more about the brand, team, and standards
As with most dog-related products, not all CBD is created to the same standards. Look for a qualified team of veterinarians and cannabinoid scientists at the helm, and the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) Quality Seal. Companies should provide testing policies for their products that are transparent and identify how they source their ingredients.
“A certificate of analysis (COA) from a third-party laboratory that meets ISO/IEC standards should be provided. Furthermore, the NASC should oversee all 3rd-party testing practices, which is a requirement of approval,” says Dr. Pollard.
“The NASC does an incredible job of standardizing this space, especially since there isn’t an official regulatory body,” says Wakim. “The NASC team looks at the use of GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) facilities, the inclusion of other natural and quality ingredients such probiotics in digestive health formulas or glucosamine/chondroitin in hip and joint formulas, proper labeling and instructions, and more. The NASC is a great resource for brands and consumers alike. And let’s not forget, your veterinarian is your greatest source.”
Pick your product
There are a series of categories to pick from in this final step.
“Here’s what the Chou2 Pharma team considers the hierarchy: need-state, cannabinoid purity, product type,” says Wakim. “Essentially, you want to boil down what you’re trying to support, pick the cannabinoid(s) best suited for that need, and then decide what flavor or format your dog might like the best.”
As discussed above, does your dog have a need and, if so, what is it? Are they a senior dog? Do they have hip and joint pain, digestion issues, or nervousness?
In order of least pure to purist, these are: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolates. Additionally, full- and broad-spectrum products can contain trace amounts of THC, and isolates are THC-free. Bear in mind, all well-made CBD products are safe, regardless of purity.
CBD products can be topicals (creams or balms), pills, soft chews, or oral solutions (oils).
If there are options, go with what your dog likes best. Some of us have picky eaters, some pups won’t let people near their mouths, and others won’t swallow pills. Soft chews and oils are the most popular amongst pet parents.
As always, safety first. Dr. Pollard says, “Products made for human patients are not necessarily safe for animals. Some contain ingredients that are toxic to animals, such as xylitol, chocolate, or raisins. The steps provided should help you navigate a world of brands and products.”
For more detailed reading, we recommend this 2022 paper in Today’s Veterinary Medicine by Dr. Trina Hazzah and Dr. Gary Richter.