It’s something industry watchers thrive on: monitoring trends to see what is going to be the next “Big Thing.” The pet industry has watched the rise of grain-free recipes in food and the advent of pet technology connecting pets and their people 24/7. Now, the focus is on CBD products derived from hemp—undoubtedly influenced once again by human lifestyle inclinations relating to the legalization of medical marijuana in states across the country.
Pet treats and other pet products such as transdermal gel pens, oils and supplements with cannabidiol (CBD) or other forms of hemp have become a pet category literally overnight. In a recent article from PetfoodIndustry. com, it’s reported that this past June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first drug containing CBD for use and sale in the U.S for human use. But to date, the FDA has not approved any CBD-based human foods or supplements. And currently, there are also no laws in place relating to CBD or any other part of the hemp plant for use in pet foods or treats.
Educating the Consumer
This has left the pet specialty retailers that stock these products scrambling to learn more in order to market the best available against the current backdrop without industry guidelines and standards. And further, in order to sell the products, retailers have had to don their educational hats to inform customers.
According to Jessica Rogers, who buys CBD products for the Chuck & Don’s chain of pet specialty stores, the company has done a lot of in-house research and written educational articles in its newsletters and e-mail blasts.
“Our team members have all been through training and have researched CBD and the different product lines we carry,” she said. “Many brands offer brochures or handouts that we also hand out to our customers.
“We have a CBD section incorporated in the health department in each store and hence merchandised together,” she added. “To date, the CBD oils are our top sellers, followed by CBD treats and edibles.”
According to Rob Kovler, founder of Animal Nutritional Products—a veterinary company that is now marketing to consumers—his new product PhytoMAXX is a full spectrum of phyto-cannabinoids, terpenes and fatty acids that support a range of ailments such as anxiety, phobias, joint and pain, inflammation, mobility, nausea, digestion and seizure disorders.
“The most important question that a pet owner needs to ask is to query if the product uses an isolate or a full spectrum oil,” he explained. “Full spectrum oil is the most potent because it comes from the whole plant. As far as the extraction process is concerned, the best way to extract the oil from a whole plant is by a carbon dioxide process called CO₂ extraction. This process uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull the CBD from the whole plant. CO₂ acts like a solvent at high temperatures, but because it’s under the boiling point, it’s considered cold, and processed to create the oil from that plant. Interestingly, this process is the best and most effective way to extract oil from plants generally.”
Julianna Carella, CEO and founder of Treatibles, concurred with Kolver, adding that the CO₂ extraction process does not denature the oil and is a very clean, environmentally friendly process.
“In order to adhere to current industry requirements, many premium full plant hemp extract products do not include the letters CBD on the packaging. Instead, they are called premium hemp oil extract products,” she explained.
“Product packaging can only tell part of the story. Some of the basics are covered, such as ingredients, dosage recommendations, milligram content and if the product is made in the USA.
“I encourage consumers to explore other avenues, like viewing the company’s website for more in-depth information or contacting the customer service department for a personal response,” she said.
“Another way to distinguish between products is to ask if the hemp oil used is from hemp that is grown in the USA,” Carella said. “If the source is Europe, that can often mean the hemp actually originates in China and is then processed in Europe. Hemp from China can contain biocontaminants and heavy metals.”
The company is now growing its own organic hemp in four states— South Carolina, Oregon, Colorado and Kentucky—for its product line that includes grain-free functional chews in four flavors: pumpkin, blueberry, turkey and sweet potato. It also includes capsules in two potencies and dropper bottles in three potencies.
Colorado-based Mary’s Nutritionals and longstanding partner Elite Botanicals launched Mary’s Whole Pet to produce superior hemp-derived CBD products that include tinctures, capsules and a moisturizing balm all designed to provide pets relief, as well as improve and maintain overall health. Also in the line-up is a patented transdermal gel pen that provides a one-milligram dose of hemp extract per pump that the company says offers relief in as fast as five minutes and for up to four hours.
“The cannabinoid-rich hemp used to produce the Mary’s Whole Pet product line is 100 percent organically cultivated and grown in full compliance with the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s industrial hemp program on our family farm,” said David Bonvillain, founder of Elite Botanicals. “All Mary’s Whole Pet products are infused with full-spectrum hemp oil that is purified through several filtration processes, as well as fractionally distilled to ensure the utmost potency, purity and consistency.”
The company has also brought Dr. Jeremy Riggle on board as the company’s new chief operating scientist with the responsibility of developing quality products from hemp-based materials.
Riggle has been involved in medicinal cannabinoid research for alternative pain relief for several years and helped pioneer the research into non-psychotropic cannabinoid cultivation, focusing on the analytics of cannabis, its associated compounds and various cannabinoid formulations.
All manufacturers interviewed agreed that preclinical trials and anecdotal evidence collected independently of each other found that hemp oil or extract shows promise to be a natural relief alternative for many ailments including inflammation, muscle and joint discomfort, anxiety, behavioral-related issues for both pets and people.
Pet Releaf is also growing its own USDA certified hemp in Colorado and producing both oils and treats.
“Our CBD hemp oil 330 is a more concentrated form of CBD oil and intended for those dogs (and cats) that need a higher potency product,” explained Chelsea Gennings, the company’s vice president of business development and special projects. “Our CBD hemp oil 330 comes from the largest USDA certified organic hemp farm in the United States. We planted a specialized proprietary strain, PR-33, grown specifically with pets in mind. Since we use the entire plant (seeds and stalk), our CBD hemp oil provides all of the benefits of CBD while also providing the multitude of additional benefits provided by the terpenoids and flavonoids.
“Our oils, both in capsule form and bottles with droppers are our best-selling products. We recommend oil for dogs (and cats) suffering from more severe illness or injury and our Edibites treats for generally healthy dogs or those suffering from minor anxiety or a minor ailment,” she said.
Pet wellness company CBD DOG Health has also recently introduced a line of healing and nurturing CBD oil-based products for canines to its extensive product range.
“The new product collections contain full-spectrum hemp oil with multiple cannabinoids including CBD, CBG, CBN and CBDA, which all work in concert to reduce anxiety, slow tumor growth, reduce bacteria, treat hot spots and skin problems, reduce pain, and provide a host of other positive benefits for pets,” said Angela Ardolino, founder and CEO of CBD Dog Health and House of Alchemy, LLC, a company dedicated to cultivating and processing the purest medical cannabis products with the lowest environmental impact for humans and pets.
“Our product called CALM is best for anxiety, stress and fear. HEAL is best for autoimmune diseases, cancer, and seizures, and EASE is best for aches and pains, arthritis and allergies,” she explained.
The company has also produced a topical salve that, according to Ardolino, will clear up a skin irritation within a couple of hours and a skin tumor within a couple of months.