CBD for Pets: Are You Getting What You’re Paying For?

We analyzed nearly 100 CBD products for pets, representing 34 CBD companies. The results may surprise you.

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CBD is ubiquitous. From tinctures to creams, gummy bears to coffee, it seems like everywhere you shop, there is some type of CBD product just waiting for the next curious consumer to test it out. In a Gallup Poll from August of 2019, 14% (1 out of 7) of Americans surveyed say that they personally use some type of CBD product, with only 35% saying they are not familiar at all with CBD.

Additionally, 1% of those surveyed say that they use CBD for their pets. That’s right, even our furry, four-legged friends are getting in on the CBD craze. And why not? CBD has been shown to be great for reducing anxiety and inflammation, ailments which can affect dogs and cats just the same as humans. In case you’re wondering, all mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS), but we’ll talk about that more in a future post

We wanted to know more about the CBD products for pets and if they were vastly different from their human CBD counterparts in terms of price, CBD quantity, quality control and health claims. We rounded up our findings and here are the results.

The Ground Rules

We looked at companies who made “best of” lists in the CBD for pets category. After researching several of these lists, we narrowed down our list to the top 34 brands that appeared in multiple searches. From each of these brands, we analyzed every one of their edible CBD products for pets. We did not include any topical CBD products like shampoo, balms or creams. We then compared prices to overall CBD content and calculated price per milligram of CBD. In total, we analyzed 88 products and only looked at CBD content. Some CBD products for pets claim to have other “beneficial ingredients,” but we were only concerned with the CBD content.

Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Since CBD is an herbal supplement and not tested or approved by the FDA (other than the anti-seizure medication Epidiolex), USDA or any other governmental agency, independent lab testing with a COA is the only way to know for sure if a CBD product has what it claims. A 2017 research letter by the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 70% of CBD extracts sold online were mislabeled. Additionally, in an April, 2019 article from Consumer Reports, veterinary technician and co-founder of the Veterinary Cannabis Academy, Stephen Cital advises, “If you can’t find a COA on the company’s website or the company refuses to share it, that’s a red flag.”

With those wise words in mind, we only looked at companies that published their COAs online and were readily available. Every product had to have its own COA. If we couldnt find the COA, the company or product was disqualified, and we sent an email asking why they didn’t publish their COA. We then analyzed the most recent batch testing for each product and verified or refuted the companies claims with what was actually in the container. We did allow a ±5% variance in CBD content.

The Good, The Bad and The Disqualified

Disqualified:

Proleve

cbdMD

Pet Pawsitive – They published their pesticide analysis but not a full COA

MediPets – They only have one COA for all their products, but it’s expired.

Canna-Pet – No COA. They state that they perform clinical trials on their products in conjunction with Auburn Univeristy, but we found no documentation to back up that claim.

Balance CBD

Verma Farms – Only has one COA for “Sugar Free Gummy Bears.” They claim, “While products may differ, the CBD we use is the same.” However, their pet products claimed different levels of CBD than the one COA that was available.

Disqualified, but

These companies had COAs available, but you needed to get the batch number from the product first. It is possible to email the company and get a COA sent back to you, but we found that to be tedious. The COAs should be readily available and as such, these companies were disqualified:

Charlottes Web

Moon Mother

The Good:

Overall, we found that all in the products that were tested, none of them contained more than .3% THC (the federal legal limit), with over half of them (46) containing zero THC. That’s actually really good for dogs who can suffer from THC intoxication. In fact, most veterinarians we spoke with recommend CBD pet products with zero THC. Also, none of the products we analyzed contained any toxic levels of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals or other contaminants.

We also found that there is a wide variety of CBD product types, flavors and strengths. This is great for pet owners of all different breed sizes or have a particular finicky pet that only likes a certain flavored treat. Additionally, we found CBD products for pets that experience joint pain or may be older.  

Finally, we saw some really good prices on high-quality CBD products. Here are the most affordable brands:

Lazarus Naturals – $.04-.05 per mg

Bluebird Botanicals – $.07-.10 per mg

Medterra – $.06-.15 per mg

The Bad:

We wish it was all good news, but unfortunately, we found several claims that didn’t match the test results. While only a few of the products we researched contained less that the stated amount of CBD, many products contained far more CBD than stated on the company’s website. While it may sound like you’re getting a better value, having more CBD than stated on the package can throw off dosing, causing your pet to take much more CBD than your vet may prescribe.

Here are the products that had less CBD than what was claimed:

Dope Dog CBD Calming Treats (Peanut Butter) 6mg — 21% less CBD

Green Garden Gold CBD Dog Joint Formula Caps — 10% less CBD

Revival CBD Revival Paws 25mg – 20% less CBD

Terra Vida CBD Chew Treats for Pets – 16% less CBD

Here are the products that had more CBD than what was claimed:

Bluebird Botanicals Concentrated Companion Caps (30 and 60 count) – 16% more CBD 

Green Garden Gold Doggy Be Good CBD Oil Drops – 23% more CBD

Irie CBD Pet 250mg CBD Oil Tincture – 25% more CBD

Joy Organics Premium Hemp Dog Chews – 50% more CBD

Joy Organics CBD Oil Tinctures for Pets 500mg – 8% more CBD

King Kanine King Kalm CBD 600mg – 18% more CBD

RE Botanicals Hemp Tincture for Pets 30ml – 19% more CBD

There were a few companies that claimed their products were full spectrum, but according to their own COA, CBD was the only cannabinoid present. Here are the products labeled full spectrum but only contained CBD:

Koi CBD Koi CBD Soft Chews

Green Garden Gold Doggy Be Good CBD Oil Treats

Green Garden Gold Gluten Free Doggy Be Good CBD Oil Treats

Green Garden Gold Doggy Be Good CBD Soft Treats

Additionally, the company Pet Relief claims that all their dog and cat hemp oils contain full spectrum cannabinoids. They even have a small graphic for each product showing how much “Active CBD” and how much “Other Beneficial Cannabinoids” are in each bottle. See below. However, according to their own COA, none of their hemp oils contain any cannabinoids other than CBD (with the exception of Hemp Oil 1700, which contains a small amount of THC). We asked them to clarify this and they said their Marketing Director would get back to us.

There was also some confusing packaging:

Honest Paws Honest Paws Soft Chews (both Joint Support and Calming Aid) – these products claim they have 250mg of a “CBD Blend,” but they only contained around 75mg of actual CBD.

Kats Naturals Pet Care – Their packaging claims 300mg for both the 30ml and 15ml sizes, but the COA shows the 15ml is only 150mg. I asked for clarification and a rep stated, “We understand sometimes the size and labeling can be confusing, it is 10 mg/ml no matter what size.” However, the 15ml package still says 300mg. It’s very misleading.

Finally, we found really high prices on some of the products. Here are the most expensive brands:

Purekana $.70-1.20 per mg

Terra Vida $.16-.83 per mg 

Pet Relief $.16-.65 per mg

Final Takeaways

Before you buy, make sure to check the company’s COA to verify the product and what’s in it. If they don’t have a COA, then buy from a company that does.

You don’t need to pay a premium for a pet-specific CBD, CBD oil for humans contains nearly identical ingredients as pet-specific CBD oil. Check the label or COA.

When in doubt, talk to your vet about what CBD product will work best for your dog or cat.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Consult your care provider before taking any herbal supplements.

The statements regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Results from products may vary. These items are not intended to cure, treat or prevent any diseases.

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