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April 3, 2019

As widespread interest in CBD/hemp products grows, retailers need to be aware of this pet category.

The number of CBD/hemp pet products on the market has grown like a weed (please pardon the pun). From edibles intended to sooth anxiety to topicals that are meant to promote healing, these products—most of which seem to be for dogs or cats—have been all the rage as of late.

For those readers who may be uninformed about CBD, here’s a brief bit of background information. CBD (cannabidiol) is found in cannabis and hemp. The majority of the time, CBD does not contain THC, which is the compound in marijuana that leads to “getting high.”

According to an article published in February 2019 on the American Kennel Club’s website, Dr. Jerry Klein, the organization’s chief veterinary officer, points out that there have not been any formal studies on how CBD affects dogs.

“What scientists do know is that cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors located in the central and peripheral nervous systems, which help maintain balance in the body and keep it in a normal healthy state,” he said.

“While there are no definitive scientific data on using CBD to treat dogs, there’s anecdotal evidence from dog owners suggesting it can treat pain, especially neuropathic pain, as well as helping to control seizures,” Dr. Klein continued. “CBD is also used because of its anti-inflammatory properties, cardiac benefits, anti-nausea effects, appetite stimulation, anti-anxiety impact and for possible anti-cancer benefits, although there are no conclusive data on this use.”

Klein added: “The safety and risks of using CBD for dogs have not yet been researched. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD and has not issued a dosing chart.”

So basically, CBD/hemp pet products (much like those for humans) signify fairly unfamiliar territory and, as is always the case, with anything new comes uncertainty. Of course that doesn’t mean we should avoid or fear the unknown, it simply means that proper research is vital.

For retailers looking to jump on the bandwagon, be advised that it’s extremely important to do your homework first. Pay attention to where the CBD/hemp is sourced from, how it is processed and what claims are made about its safety and efficacy. With that in mind, there are a slew of promising products on the market that retailers can consider adding to their shelves in hopes of providing pets with much-needed relief and helping to improve their general quality of life.

On the Market
One of the many companies with CBD/hemp products for pets is Austin and Kat, which offers 100 percent natural, non-psychoactive CBD oil and biscuits. The CBD oil comes directly from farms in Oregon and Colorado. “Our new Extra Strength Organic Oils are infused with full-spectrum, hemp-derived CBD oil and USDA-certified organic coconut oil,” said Kat Donatello, the company’s founder. “These blends are our most concentrated tinctures—they’re perfect for large-breed dogs or pets needing additional CBD due to illness or injury. Even horses!”

She continued: “Our new Extra Strength 10 milligram CBD dog biscuits were formulated specifically for extra-large dogs and those needing a higher dose of CBD. They are perfect for dogs with high levels of anxiety or those with hard-to-treat pain. Like our classic 2 milligram and 5 milligram biscuits, they are gluten-free, vegan and completely free of preservatives.”

Another company is Bluebird Botanicals, which also sources its hemp from the United States.

“Made with the same care and ingredients as our Hemp Classic CBD Oil for humans, the Bluebird Botanicals Companion Oil contains only CBD hemp extract in hemp seed oil,” said Brandon Betty, CEO of Bluebird Botanicals. “The hemp extract is rich in the full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and the other components of cannabis that make it a healthy supplement for our companions and ourselves.”

“For pets who are picky about their food, our Companion Capsules are a great way to get CBD into their system,” Betty added. “Each soft gel contains 15 milligrams of our Companion Oil as well as the other cannabinoids and terpenes that make cannabis so healthy.”

As its name suggests, Colorado Hemp Honey features honey infused with hemp that is grown exclusively in Colorado, both by the company’s own farm as well as by others in the state.

“Crazy Bee Gone Pet Tincture is a holistic solution to ease anxiety and stress for pets,” said Matt Seres, the brand and marketing manager at Colorado Hemp Honey. “Crazy Bee Gone is full of terpene-rich, full-spectrum hemp extract. It comes in a vegetarian bacon flavor.”

Another product from the company is Pet Tincture Hip ‘N’ Joint, which is available in a salmon flavor and is meant to help with a pet’s inflammatory response.

There is also King Kanine, whose USA-sourced CBD offerings include King Kalm Sooth and King Kalm Baum—topicals meant to reduce inflammation—as well as a line of cookies. The company donates some of its CBD products to pet rescues in order to help animals relax and improve their overall wellness, which leads to them becoming happier and, ultimately, more adoptable.

“Giving back has been something that we’re really proud of,” CEO Jeff Riman said. “We’ve taken it upon ourselves at King Kanine to become part of the solution, and so that’s how we got so heavily involved with some of the biggest rescues in the country.”

According to Riman, King Kanine is launching two new CBD products. “One’s going to be a higher-dose, proprietary type of formula that we’re keeping under wraps because we think it’s going to be, perhaps, industry-changing,” he said. “So that’s going to be our new product we’re launching in Q1, and then we’re launching a mange and mite product with cannabidiol.”

Mary’s Whole Pet is a vertically integrated manufacturing organization in Colorado. The company has a hemp farm in Loveland, where it organically cultivates hemp plants and extracts the oil. “We oversee the entire process from soil to oil to shelf,” said CEO Lynn Honderd.

“Mary’s Whole Pet’s patented Transdermal Gel Pen contains 50 (1 milligram) doses of activated hemp extract; each dose can last up to four hours and you can apply it to the inner ear or any other venous area,” said Honderd. “Mary’s Whole Pet Buddy Balm is formulated to address a variety of skin problems, including dry skin, cracked nose or paws and surface wounds. It contains 75 milligrams of activated hemp extract and a special blend of essential oils to provide a calming effect, with a convenient dispenser for no-mess application.”

She added: “Mary’s Whole Pet’s bacon-flavored drops are available in two potencies (300 milligrams and 900 milligrams) customized to every pet’s needs and can be applied to food, a treat or directly to the back of the tongue using the graduated plastic dropper.”

With CBD grown at its fully integrated facility in Colorado, Nature’s Pet Herbals offers up Hempful Chicken Stix and Hempful Bits.

“Both are simply made with chicken and CBD, with no artificial colors, added flavoring or preservatives,” said CEO Kathryn Garsh. “These items are dehydrated for a longer shelf life and are highly palatable. Each of the Chicken Stix contains approximately 5 milligrams of CBD. The Bits are simply the Stix cut into smaller pieces. These products are treats and are meant to augment a regular regiment of CBD oil in the pet’s diet.”

Another company with Colorado-grown hemp is Pet Releaf, which is touting its new hemp protein supplement Boom Bars.

“These bars are available in three varieties—Energize, Recovery and Longevity—and are limited-ingredient and nutrient-dense to ensure a pet’s health is always booming,” said Chelsea Gennings, co-founder and vice president. “This new product line will join our full-spectrum hemp oils, Edibites and Canna Care topical, and will continue our mission of changing what healthy means for pets through the power of hemp.”

Then there is Suzie’s CBD Treats, which sources its CBD from a partner farm in Colorado.

“Our dog biscuits are our pride and joy,” said John Lionetti, sales representative and topics specialist at the company. “Each treat has 4 milligrams of organic Colorado-grown CBD, and they come in three different flavors: pumpkin, apple and original. They’re delicious and can treat many issues, including anxiety, seizures, arthritis and chronic pain. Always baked with love, only by us.”

Lionetti continued: “We also make an incredible line of oil tinctures for cats and dogs alike, using organic safflower oil and CBD that’s extracted on our farm using organic food-grade ethanol. These oils work wonderfully to treat chronic or more severe issues, or for supplying a household of active pets with natural health benefits.”

In South Carolina, Treatibles has an organic hemp farm that is the source of its various products. The company has soft chews and ready packs for dogs and cats.

“Treatibles Soft Chews contain organic full-spectrum hemp oil dominated by naturally occurring CBD, turmeric, papain and bromelain (plus catnip in the cat chews),” said Jodi Ziskin, director of communications. “They are ideal for senior pets and those preferring a softer consistency. Our chews help by addressing anxiety, supporting a healthy digestive tract, promoting healthy joints and more.

“Treatibles Ready Packs contain 10 single servings of our organic full-spectrum hemp oil dominated by naturally occurring CBD and MCT coconut oil in easy-to-use applicators for controlled and consistent dosing,” she added. “No measuring! Ideal for travel, vet visits, grooming appointments, first-aid and evacuation kits, situational anxiety and more.”

True Leaf, meanwhile, uses suppliers that source hemp from Canadian prairies. The company’s products include Calming Chews, Hip & Joint Chews, Everyday Omega Chews, Calming Oil, Hip & Joint Oil and Everyday Omega Oil.

“The key therapeutic ingredient in True Leaf’s pet supplements is hemp seed—the legal strain of cannabis,” said Darcy Bomford, founder and CEO of True Leaf. “These products are safe. They will not get your pet high.”

There are, of course, several other companies with CBD/hemp products for pets. These include Healthy Hemp Pet Company, which makes small-batch products with organic full-spectrum, terpene-rich PCR hemp oil; Holistic Hound, offering up full-spectrum hemp soft chews, healing balm and oil; PetFX’s CannaLove hemp-infused canine products; Honest Paws, whose line of full-spectrum CBD-infused products includes peanut butter and coconut oil; Rowley’s Good Stuff, which makes CBD nut butter and honey treats specifically with larger animals in mind; Pure Hemp CBD, with such popular CBD pet products as food spray, treats and drops; Veritas Farms, an organic, seed-to-sale hemp brand with CBD-infused products for dogs, cats and horses; Phytomaxx Plus, a phytocannabinoid premium hemp oil extract for dogs and cats; Therabis, featuring a variety of veterinarian-formulated pet hemp products; and Medipets, whose CBD offerings include a spray, oils and treats, which are available in several different flavors.

Lab Testing
As pointed out by King Kanine’s Riman, just because a CBD product for pets has been “tested” doesn’t mean that it performed well (unless positive results are provided). Take, as an example, a college graduate who passed all of his or her tests but didn’t get good grades. It’s true that “Cs get degrees,” but C students typically aren’t as appealing to prospective employers for a reason.

“King Kanine was one of the first companies to test our products so stringently,” he said. “That QR code, when you scan it, it doesn’t go to our website; it goes to the laboratory’s website. The significance of that is that laboratory has got a national certification, so if it false-certifies tests, they can lose their license…. So we say, Don’t take our word for it, go to the lab!”

Colorado Hemp Honey has a similar practice in place. “All of our products have scannable QR codes that send consumers to the following URL, where they can find their COA,” Seres said. “We currently test for CBD and THC, and added terpenes to our protocol in March 2019.”

The hemp farm Austin and Kat uses thoroughly tests the oils prior to shipment, ensuring that they’re up to standards and have the correct levels of CBD with no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to Donatello.

“Once in our possession, we send the oil to an independent third-party lab to test once again for potency. Only after then do we begin baking or mixing, as we’re able to infuse the precise amount of CBD into our products. We test the final products one last time to guarantee they’re safe and effective for pets to consume.”

“Every single product that leaves our facility, including our pet products, is extensively tested by third-party laboratories,” explained Bluebird Botanicals’ Beatty. “We have an industry-leading quality-control system that allows customers to view these lab tests for every single batch of every single product. These tests show the potency of our products as well as any potential contaminants such as heavy metals, mycotoxins and pesticides.”

This is how Mary’s Whole Pet tests their products, according to Honderd: “Our Chief Scientist Dr. Jeremy Riggle oversees a team of scientists and quality-control laboratory. We test all raw material, oil after extraction and final products both in-house and with a third-party laboratory.” She added: “With CBD products for pets being a relatively new category still, maintaining in-house and third-party testing processes and providing test results to customers is a trend that a lot more companies are adhering to.”

At Nature’s Pet Herbals, CBD is made through a proprietary CO2 extraction process. “The resulting product is inspected and tested thoroughly during all stages of production, and then finally verified through third-party testing,” said Garsh. “The facility is GMP-compliant as well.”

Third-party lab testing is also used by Suzie’s CBD Treats. “We test through multiple companies to ensure unbiased results and purity of product,” said Lionetti. “We also use only human-grade ingredients, as we believe that our pets deserve the same quality that we experience. We’ve been testing everything since day one, and we guarantee we always will.”

“We third-party test our raw oil and each batch of every product to ensure consistency and efficacy, and to rule out heavy metals and biocontaminants,” said Treatibles’ Ziskin. “The testing method identifies the full spectrum of cannabinoids present in each product and the exact milligram count of the beneficial cannabinoids in each serving. Lab test results are readily available on Treatibles.com.”

Pet Releaf’s Gennings said: “Each batch of our products is sent out monthly for potency testing to show both THC and CBD levels, and to prove that no residual solvents or chemicals were used during our extraction process. All of these results are available on our website and all of our packaging has QR codes that directly link to our product testing page.”

And over at True Leaf, the company’s quality and safety protocols are qualified by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), according to Bomford.

“We only buy ingredients from vendors that have passed a thorough qualification process, and we like to visit our suppliers regularly to run detailed assessments. We also ensure that our products meet the label declaration by testing each lot upon production and at the end of the shelf life, in addition to food safety measures, including microbial tests.”

Trends and Forecasts
There’s no doubt about the recent explosion of CBD/hemp products for pets. Perhaps it’s due, in part, to the increasing amount of U.S. states that have been legalizing marijuana, or maybe it’s a result of the country’s 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the regulated production of hemp. Whatever the reason, the demand is evident. What does remain to be seen is if this strong interest will continue and what will happen with regards to official studies and regulations in the future.

“There is enormous growth in the CBD/hemp space for pets,” said Colorado Hemp Honey’s Seres. “As long as we have people creating safe, lab-tested products containing hemp, we will continue to see new ways for pets to enjoy the benefits.”

“CBD is equally as beneficial for animals as it is for humans,” said Bluebird Botanicals’ Beatty. “We are starting to see growing interest around CBD pet products, particularly CBD-infused treats. The market is still ripe for expansion, so we expect this popularity to grow tenfold over the next several years.”

Nature’s Pet Herbals’ Garsh said: “There are many new products hitting the market and there will continue to be through the foreseeable future. Most of these products are a result of nanotechnology that creates different forms and therefore different vehicles of administering CBD for pets and humans alike.”

“People are putting CBD in absolutely everything,” said Pet Releaf’s Gennings. “There is so much that goes into manufacturing both safe and effective CBD products for pets; simply placing some type of CBD extract in a product doesn’t mean it’s suddenly beneficial. It’s super important that customers ask these five questions whenever comparing CBD products: Where is the hemp grown? If claiming organic, do they have the necessary paperwork to support this claim? What extraction method is being used? Are they using CBD isolate? How much CBD is in the product?”

Treatibles’ Ziskin said: “As this segment of the pet industry continues to grow, many new companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Unlike those of us who started several years ago with a passion to help pets thrive and the devotion to create a pure, effective product, many are utilizing inferior ingredients. A big red flag for retailers is price. Does a new product compare itself to more well-known products but at a fraction of the cost? Unfortunately, there are no rules against producers using hemp from China, which is at a high risk of being contaminated with heavy metals or pesticides.”

“With the legalization of cannabis in Canada and hemp becoming more widely accepted in the North American market, research is constantly evolving,” said True Leaf’s Bomford. “We are becoming more familiar with the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids in humans, but more information is necessary to ensure the most effective dose for pets.”

“Overall, consumers are increasingly getting more knowledgeable about CBD, and we foresee a greater desire for transparency in the CBD pet products they purchase,” added Austin and Kat’s Donatello. “I think the future of this sector is bright—and we’re only beginning to turn the first page of this epic novel.”

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