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October 23, 2019

It’s no secret that cannabidiol (CBD) is a hot commodity these days. Whether well-established in the space or new to the space, brands are seizing the opportunity to provide pets with CBD products that boost their overall wellness.

With the influx of brands, the products need to stand out from one another. That’s why variety is key. Variety encompasses not only type—tinctures, treats, balms, etc.—but also size and dose in order to provide the best individualized care for each pet and its needs. But variety alone is not enough. The most important aspect is transparency. Therefore, it is imperative that brands in the CBD space offer an array of unique products that meet the all necessary guidelines.

CBD-Only Brands

Nick Massey and Mike Bateman began planning Green Coast Pet a little over two years ago after seeing the benefits of CBD and the opportunities surrounding it for products missing on the market to meet and exceed expectations of pet parents in the health and wellness category.

“At that time, we saw a lack of fun, innovative, highly effective and affordable products because everyone was focusing on basic dog biscuits with CBD,” explained Bateman, president and co-founder of Green Coast Pet. “Since biscuits are baked, they break down many of the best benefits CBD can offer, so we wanted to find better and more innovative ways to offer this ingredient effectively and affordably.”

Back then, Bateman and Massey witnessed many companies committing major violations of the law and being pulled off the shelf in many states. This prompted them to do it right so there was no risk of that happening to their team and business. As a result, they created an assortment of CBD products. These included Cold-Extruded Soft Chews for dogs and cats; a hemp-based peanut butter part of the Lickable Actives line; Hemp + MSM, a sunflower oil paste with hemp and a heavy dose of MSM mixed in; and Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil Tinctures. Additionally, a never-before-seen pet topical is in the works.

“Dogs, like humans, have different preferences. All of our products are just as effective as the other. By coming out with different options, we wanted to ensure that every pet parent had the opportunity to choose what might be best for their dog,” Bateman said.

Green Coast Pet focuses on top level compliance, thus joining the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) and becoming one of the first brands to offer a full line of broad-spectrum hemp products with the NASC Quality Seal. This means that the company has been audited by a third party, is continuously audited, responsible for reporting any adverse effects and reports all testing data with regularity by a third-party organization that makes sure what is represented is accurate and true. And all its products have NASC-approved dosing instructions from active, local veterinarians.

“We [need] to make sure we are all speaking the same language to consumers and retailers. [Let’s] have the same set of quality guidelines and bring up the overall integrity of this category,” Bateman emphasized.

Earth Buddy was started on the need for education around sourcing and how hemp is processed for pets. This led to the company partnering with local farms, run by scientists and cannabis experts that focus on small crop cultivation or horticulture to produce the highest quality and potency hemp plants.

“The amount of research we did and continue to do is endless. I also had a dog that was non-responsive to seizure medications and the only thing that was managing them was our CBD,” said Sean Zyer, founder and director of sales of Earth Buddy. “We are giving our best effort to educate the public about how to evaluate a brand.”

Earth Buddy has many different types of products that offer different forms of administration and strengths of CBD. These include its oven-baked Hemp Hearts for a healthy inflammatory response; 5 Organic Mushrooms capsules for a healthy immune system, brain function and digestion; Hemp Extract with a higher concentrated form of full-spectrum CBD for a healthy fat source to support brain function, calming and bone and joint health; emulsified full-spectrum CBD Quick Calm solution for situational calming with stressful events; topical Paw & Skin Balm for dry, irritated skin that moisturizes; and new scoopable Solutions powder with grass-fed colostrum to support gut health.

“There are many reasons to offer different varieties such as palatability, added functional ingredients and situational use,” Zyer said. “All of our products provide a specific solution pet owners are looking for.”

Earth Buddy knows that like any supplement, CBD does not always help the issue with the first trial, and that it always varies for each animal and is never a “one size fits all.” That’s why it recommends daily use of a whole-plant or full-spectrum hemp product at varied dosing levels for the best results. Because cannabinoids from hemp are an individualized supplement, education and in-depth conversations with the pet owner determine the best option. And pets thrive with natural, unrefined ingredients, so CBD should not be an exception.

“Transparency is the most important aspect of any CBD company for pets or people. Nothing should be proprietary, and your labeling, sourcing and process should be clear and understandable,” Zyer explained.

Holistic Hound began after co-founder and CEO Heidi Hill introduced a line of CBD supplements in her store in 2014, and they were very well received by customers. Combined with her background in homeopathy, Hill and her partner decided to improve upon the few products on the market at the time and worked with a veterinarian—an expert in cannabis for pets—to formulate a unique line of supplements.

“My background in homeopathy provided me with a foundational understanding of holistic health,” Hill said. “True health can only be achieved by considering all parts of ourselves and our animals—body, mind and spirit.”

Holistic Hound offers bites and chews that are infused with a blend of five certified organic medicinal mushrooms for additional, powerful immune and antioxidant support. Its soft chews also contain ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb that has been used in India for thousands of years to help the body manage stress, reduce anxiety and inflammation as well as provide additional immune support. The company also makes oils that offer greater absorption and bioavailability and a topical healing balm for hot spots, wounds or skin irritations as well as chronic conditions like arthritis.

“It’s important to have a variety of administration methods, as some dogs and cats do better with the oil versus chews, and vice versa,” Hill explained. “[For example], the water-soluble products are especially well indicated for acute situations like travel or thunderstorms because of their rapid response time.”

In order to best explain the types and strengths of CBD to consumers, Holistic Hound offers regular training to all of its retail partners in the form of weekly webinars and provides them with POP materials and sales sheets on benefits, ingredients and more. The company encourages education, transparency and compliance of guidelines and regulations in place, including being a member of the NASC.

“These are therapeutic medicinal products that require education. It’s important to have a reputation for honesty, transparency, quality and efficacy of products,” Hill emphasized.

New to CBD

Einstein Pets wanted to add something new and fresh to its product line that “played nice with others” in the family, so it developed CBD oils that are healthy, all-natural and made with plant-based ingredients, the same startup process for its infamous dog treats. Its vision: “To Be Clear, To Be Concise and To Be Transparent.”

“As the hype around CBD increases, consumers are becoming more educated and finding a variety of ways to administer it to their pets,” said director of happiness (CEO) of Einstein Pets, Kelly Ison. “We want to offer a variety of tinctures that meet their needs.”

After years of extensive research, Einstein Pets launched its new Daily Support CBD Oil, which offers a beneficial health solution using full-spectrum, no THC, pure CBD hemp oil. It is derived from natural, GMO-free hemp grown in Colorado. Einstein Pets offers different strength tinctures that correspond to consumer use and pet weight groups. Einstein Pets recognizes that there are many CBD and hemp pet products, so it pays to educate consumers so they can understand and conduct their own research.

“A single drop of Einstein Pets 1000 mg may contain the same amount of CBD as 10 drops of another company’s tinctures or five treats. The doses for CBD hemp oil will [also] vary depending on the size of the dog, and that is why a lot of brands give you a range of different options and forms to choose from in terms of products,” Ison explained. “Having options in the pet market allows us to educate the customer to make an informed decision when purchasing CBD concentrations and products.”

For Earth Animal, supplementation is the way of life. Having started in the supplement business in 1979, the company is always on the lookout for supplements that make a difference, especially those that can stimulate the animal’s own mechanism of healing.

“We became interested in CBD because the research was showing that this natural ingredient was getting very good clinical results both in people and in animals,” said Dr. Bob Goldstein, veterinarian and co-founder of Earth Animal. This led to years of testing in laboratory and veterinary settings before creating the Earth Animal brand, ensuring that what was presented was effective and safe for the animals.

“We took this CBD opportunity very seriously,” added Susan Goldstein, co-founder of Earth Animal.

Earth Animal prides itself on prioritizing animals. That’s why it takes the best quality CBD and offers it in various forms so it is as easy as possible for pet owners to administer it to the pet. These include the Zen-Pen and ZEN-TABS, transdermal and oral forms, respectively, that are part of the Earth Animal Nature’s Comfort line. Each product is designed to meet the needs of cats and dogs of all sizes.

“There is a very big difference between a 10-pound cat and a 100-pound Great Dane, and each of them require administration in different methods,” said Dr. Goldstein. “The way, ease and safety of administration to the animal is really important.”

An overflow of misinformation can come out of popularity, and CBD is no exception. That’s why as members of the NASC and their brand certified, the Goldsteins highly recommend that other brands also be certified by the organization in order to cut through the noise and be up to the standards that are best for the animal. If not, the results will speak for themselves.

“The animals that heal will be the animals that will show us the integrity of each individual player,” Susan Goldstein said. “The animals will tell the truth about transparency for us.”

Cardinal Pet Care has been in the pet industry for over 70 years, so it used its well-established team innovation methods to introduce a new line of CBD pet grooming and first aid products that are handled as over-the-counter drugs to guarantee proper quality control.

“When our team creates a new product, we involve the pet community every step of the way,” said Tony de Vos, president of Cardinal Pet Care. “Our products are made in our solar-powered, FDA-approved facility that employs strict good manufacturing practices (GMP).”

Cardinal’s Remedy+Recovery Products with CBD are cosmetic/health care items that provide ease of application and flexibility. Some products in the line are Ear Cleaner, a liquid that allows drops to be administered to the pet’s ear; Hot Spot Spray, which is administered with a spray nozzle to easily target the affected area; and the new Hemp Breath Spray, which soothes gums and freshens breath. While each product has its own purpose, the message is the same.

“Education and training are crucial, including keeping up to date with state and federal laws. Cardinal Pet Care believes information should be clear, concise and easy to access,” de Vos explained.

Distributor

Complete Animal Nutrition (CAN) Distribution first heard about some of the remarkable firsthand stories about CBD improving the lives of pets at the 2017 Global Pet Expo. This prompted CAN to find companies making CBD products the right way and providing the educational tools to help each of its retail customers become experts on CBD products.

“I wanted to make sure that my customers are protected first and foremost. When I decided that I was ready to enter the category, I did a lot of research and vetting to ensure that I made the best products out there available to my loyal customers,” said Bob Sledzinski, founder and president of CAN Distribution.

CAN Distribution thoroughly vets all manufacturing practices and ingredient sourcing and is extremely selective with the pet CBD brands it chooses to add to its portfolio. Over the past 18 months, the company takes a “measure twice, cut once” approach to selecting a manufacturing partner.

One company that stood out to Sledzinski was Austin and Kat, which has its commercial bakery in Seattle and partners with select industrial hemp farms to source the CBD. According to Sledzinski, Austin and Kat were one of the only pet CBD treat companies CAN Distribution reviewed that physically makes its own products. Austin and Kat uses 100 percent human-grade ingredients in its products, all of which are sourced domestically. And its products all have QR codes on each oil box and biscuit bag in order to view the specific lab test results.

“Because we’ve had so many retailers rely on us for advice, we decided to really get deep into our research and find a line that we know our customers can rely on. For us, the product diversity, innovation, branding and quality of their products made them really stick out to us,” Sledzinski explained.

From a distributor perspective, CAN Distribution is a strong believer in doing your homework so that customers feel confident that you’re making the best brands out there available to them.

“Testing, sourcing, consistency, transparency and brands that are in the business for the right reasons are all positive signs to me,” said Sledzinski. “Get to know your partners because at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.”

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