Is CBD Safe For Dogs: What To Look For When Buying CBD Oil
During the past few years companies specializing in cannabis products for human consumption have turned their attention to the emerging markets of cannabis for pets. And pet owners are looking for alternatives to traditional medicines to treat their dog’s epilepsy, separation-anxiety or a multitude of other ailments seen in older, aging dogs.
Considering cannabis as a treatment option for your beloved pet brings with it a quagmire of questions and consumer apprehension about understanding the advantages & disadvantages between the primary sources of CBD products.
Knowing which is better for your dog–CBD extracted from hemp or CBD products derived from cannabis–will require some basic understanding of the Cannabis Sativa plant species itself.
CBD from Cannabis vs CBD from Hemp – What’s the Difference?
Is there a distinction that can be made between various sources of CBD and how do you know which one you’re getting when you buy a bottle of CBD?
To begin, Cannabis (marijuana) and Hemp both come from the plant Cannabis Sativa (though marijuana also comes from another member of the Cannabis family, Cannabis Indica). The cannabis plant has over 80 chemicals called cannabinoids–the two main types of cannabinoids being Cannabidiol (CBD) & Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Although hemp plants and marijuana plants are both the same Cannabis Sativa species, they have distinct phytochemical compositions. Hemp is low in THC and high in CBD; Cannabis is generally high in THC and low in CBD. Generally.
In the agricultural sense, hemp grows tall, fast and with plenty of stalk–similar to bamboo.
Marijuana, on the other hand, has been modified over many growth cycles to be more of a shrub that produces flowering buds (the primary source of THC). The THC content in marijuana is usually between 10 and 15 percent; but hemp must have a THC content of 0.3 percent or less to be legal in the United States. At this level, cannabis sativa as Hemp has no intoxicating effect for people or dogs.
Although hemp has a higher concentration of cannabidiol than does the cannabis plant grown for THC, a huge amount of hemp raw material is required to extract a small amount of CBD; thereby raising the risk of soil contaminants because the hemp plant is a bio-accumulator, drawing up heavy metals & toxins from the surrounding soil.
That’s a great feature for restoring a poisoned ecosystem, but it’s not recommended for extracting medicinal oil for human or canine consumption. Thus, the quality of the end-product CBD has more to do with the plant’s “growing conditions” than the plant species itself.
Along with a number of other factors, the original growth-source-medium (soil and adjacent land) of both hemp and cannabis greatly influences the eventual quality and price of the final cannabinoid content extracted.
Industrial hemp is often grown in countries where safety standards are not strictly adhered to, such as Romania and China. If cultivation and extraction aren’t done safely, heavy metals, pollutants and even pathogenic bacteria and fungi can find their way into hemp-derived CBD products.
Another difference consumers should be aware of is that single-molecule CBD synthesized in a lab or extracted and refined from industrial hemp lacks critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis strains.
These naturally occurring compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their therapeutic benefits — collectively known as the ‘Entourage Effect’ (the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts).
How To Know What’s In Your CBD
To know exactly what’s in the your CBD product and how it was processed you should request to see third-party, independent lab analysis from the manufacturer.
As seen in a sample lab report below these impartial tests should show an Analysis Summary indicating the Total Cannabinoid Content, the relative potency of THC & CBD, along with verifiable results for the presence or absence of any residual solvents used in the extraction process. The Detailed Report section should clearly delineate the breakdown of all cannabinoids present (remember the ‘Entourage Effect) as well as any heavy metals or mold contaminants present in the original sample.
Armed with this information, you will know exactly what you are buying and this analysis report becomes the foundation for determining the exact starting CBD dosage for your dog.
In my experience, some companies (or product distributors) will say they don’t perform all of these tests, all of the time–in that case, find another vendor who is willing to be more transparent about their plant source & processing methods.
Your dog’s health is far too important to leave up to unscrupulous marketing or casual scientific investigation. Be mindful–always ask for the most recent lab assay reports from the manufacturer before purchasing any CBD product.
For now, it’s probably best to look for products made from organically cultivated hemp from North America (the U.S., Canada) or the European Union (the Netherlands, Spain), countries that regulate and test their CBD products.
Legal issues not withstanding, medical marijuana (cannabis), grown in controlled conditions where fewer industrial chemicals and pesticides are used, is clearly a safer choice than its hemp counterpart for sourcing CBD extracts from unregulated countries.
But until Federal Law fully allows the sale and purchase of cannabis derived-full spectrum CBD in all 50 States, the use of hemp CBD is a viable option both medicinally and economically.
Is There a Difference Between CBD From Hemp Vs CBD From Marijuana?
On a molecular level, no–there is no difference; CBD is CBD.
But as a potential therapeutic modality, however, there can be a world of difference between industrial hemp sourced versus cannabis sourced cannabinoids.
Again, Cannabidiol (CBD) is only one of many cannabinoids present in the cannabis sativa plant (inclusive of both hemp and cannabis) that contributes to the ‘whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts’ synergistic therapeutic effectiveness.
Although research is currently being undertaken to decipher the biological activity and medicinal properties of numerous other cannabinoids (CBV, CBG, etc.); compared to whole plant CBD-rich cannabis, industrial hemp is typically lower in the full-spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes that contribute to the ‘Entourage Effect’.
The lack of full-spectrum CBD compounds within hemp can be also be attributed to the legal standard of preventing too much THC in any CBD product–known as “Going Hot” (>0.3% THC). Growing hemp for the express purpose of harvesting CBD but with a very low level of THC (or none) will produce a plant with lower levels of all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids.
Any hemp product with an amount of THC at or above 0.3% does not meet the legal acceptable level and that plant source, if grown for CBD sales, must be destroyed. Entire crops have been systematically destroyed because the final product tests were 0.01 percent above the Federal legal limit.
Certain purveyors of imported, CBD-infused hemp oil claim it’s legal to market their wares anywhere in the United States as long as the oil contains less than 0.3 percent THC.
Actually, it’s not so simple–
Federal law prohibits U.S. farmers from growing hemp as a commercial crop, but the sale of imported, low-THC, industrial hemp products is permitted in the United States as long as these products are derived from the seed or stalk of the plant, not from the leaves and flowers.
Here’s the Catch
Cannabidiol can’t be pressed or extracted from hemp seeds. Hemp seeds do not contain detectable amounts of cannabidiol. CBD can be extracted from the flower, leaves, and, only to a very minor extent, from the stalk of the hemp plant. So be very clear when reading product labels, hemp oil from hemp seeds does not contain cannabidiol–though some companies will use the oil from hemp seeds as a base to add CBD concentrates to make it a viable source of CBD. Only a lab report will tell you the CBD concentration present in that product sample.
CBD-infused nutraceuticals have not been approved by the FDA as food supplements; nor are these products legal in all 50 U.S. states. By and large, however, interstate CBD commerce is tolerated by federal authorities.
When it comes to choosing a CBD product for your beloved pet this is truly a time of ‘Let the Buyer Beware’.
Not all CBD products are the equal in their quantity or quality of cannabinoid content but with a small investment of time and by educating yourself about product sources you can discover a CBD product that is best for your canine companion’s specific health challenges. Pet owners have the right to be informed and to make educated decisions regarding how to best manage their best friend’s care.
If you are considering giving your dog a CBD product today, whether it be from a cannabis plant source or industrial hemp source, your first decision is to select a reputable manufacturer who is willing to demonstrate total transparency of their product lineage from seed to sale.
Whether that CBD extract is sourced from marijuana (if you’re in a legal state) or from industrial hemp (domestic or international) you should request a laboratory report that details a verifiable amount of CBD, along with scientific evidence of any presence of solvents or harmful molds to ensure you are getting exactly what the label claims.
Until cannabis is legalized for sale and purchase in all 50 States, using CBD derived from industrial hemp is a practical, functional alternative as a natural medicine to help our furry friends lead a happy, healthy, pain-free life.