Pet Age recently spoke with Dr. Bob Menardi, Veterinary Technical and Educational Services Director at Canopy Growth, to find out retailers need to know about cannabidiol pet products.
What are the differences between isolate, broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD?
“Spectrum” simply refers to how inclusive an extract is of the hundreds of chemical substances in the cannabis plant. At one extreme, a full-spectrum extract includes all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc. that are in the plant – including THC. At the opposite extreme, an isolate is processed and purified until you end up with a pure single component, like CBD. Broad spectrum can be anything between the two extremes. A broad-spectrum extract can contain two plant substances or hundreds. It should be clear that any one broad- or full-spectrum extract can be very different from the next one depending on the strain and growing conditions of the source plants, and the extraction and processing techniques used. Just saying “broad” or “full” gives very little information about what or how much of anything ends up in the final product.
Science hasn’t yet told us how most of the substances in the cannabis plant affect dogs. The exception is CBD, where much more research supports its safety and activity. At Canopy, our SurityPro chews are made with a broad-spectrum extract that is refined to maximize the amount of CBD and minimize other compounds.
How are the various extraction techniques relevant to pet health?
It is important to keep in mind that any extraction technique is simply a tool to achieve an end result. One method is not inherently better than another. The choice of an extraction technique depends on what you want your final product to look like. C02 extraction, for example, might be your choice if you are trying to produce a broader spectrum product containing CBD and other cannabinoids and compounds as well. The drawback is that most cannabis plant substances are not very well understood in dogs. On the other hand, using a food-grade solvent like ethanol to extract a narrower spectrum, then further refining it through other advanced techniques, can result in a product that is very rich in CBD, and not much else. This is important because we simply know a lot more about CBD in dogs than any other cannabis substance. It’s always best to stick with what you know rather than leave anything to chance.
What is the appropriate CBD amount to give dogs?
Let’s say you are giving a daily chew. It makes sense that you should give enough to maintain some CBD in the dog’s body until it is time for the next day’s chew. When dogs are given reasonable amounts of CBD, about 2 mg per kg of body weight, the CBD is absorbed and can be found in the bloodstream for a full 24 hours. SurityPro chews and oils are formulated to deliver this amount. Science (including Canopy’s own safety research) has shown that this and much higher amounts are very well-tolerated by dogs.
Unfortunately, most commercial products are formulated to deliver only a fraction of that amount, and CBD may be gone from the bloodstream after just a few hours.
How would you describe the terpenes’ role in pet health?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give many plants their distinctive smells, like lavender or pine. Terpenes have various functions for plants, like attracting pollinating insects or repelling harmful ones. We know that some terpenes can interact with the bodies of animals, but their effects have not been studied in detail. There is some speculation that the combination of cannabinoids with terpenes might somehow be better or safer than the cannabinoid alone. It is an exciting question that deserves more exploration, but there is currently no clear scientific support in dogs. I can’t rule out the possibility of beneficial combinations, but it is just as likely they would be detrimental or simply have no effect at all. Until science tells us that a CBD/terpene combination has benefits over CBD alone, it is probably best to leave them out.
Does the form of CBD product have any impact on health benefits or absorption rate?
Yes, and it might be surprising! The CBD molecule mixes well with oils and fats, and it is well known that absorption of CBD is better when it is ingested along with a fatty meal. Our own research has demonstrated that a chew form can result in better CBD absorption than a liquid oil tincture, probably because of the very small amount of fat in the chew.
But that’s not the whole story. Any product can only be beneficial if the dog ingests it! The choice of a chew or an oil is largely personal preference. I like chews with my dogs because I find them more enjoyable to give than oil, and the dogs enjoy getting them every day. A product that becomes part of a positive daily routine helps to encourage daily use as intended.