Derived from the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD) in pet products has slowly become accepted for its beneficial impact since is has entered the market. It’s estimated that pet CBD products arrived on retailer shelves in the early 2010s, but its current popularity among pet parents is obvious. In fact, a 2020 report from Brightfield Group, a consumer insights and market intelligence firm, projects sales of CBD pet products to reach $1.7B by 2025, driven primarily by increased knowledge of CBD’s potential benefits, combined with ongoing product innovations from manufacturers.
As more studies take place, and a growing number of reports appear in veterinary publications, we learn CBD can help pets that suffer from a variety of ailments. Through various studies, CBD has demonstrated multiple properties, such as analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, antineoplastic, antiemetic and anticonvulsant.
CBD pet products are proving to be all-natural remedies that are a popular choice for many pet owners to help their companion animals with anxiety and arthritis, to name a few health issues. In the past year, a new product also derived from the cannabis plant — cannabigerol (CBG) — has entered the holistic health scene for pets.
While there haven’t been any major studies published on CBG for dogs, many veterinary experts are taking notice of this promising compound. It helps to have experts like Dr. Trina Hazzah, an integrative veterinary oncologist and cannabis specialist, who can shed some light on its potential benefits.
“When in its acidic form, CBG is considered the parent compound to all other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant,” explained Dr. Hazzah, who recently had a review article exploring cannabis in veterinary medicine published in the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. . “Through various studies CBG has been shown to have multiple pharmacologic effects such as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, powerful antibiotic — specifically against MRSA — antineoplastic, muscle relaxation and more.”
Chris Denicola, co-founder and CEO of Crappy’s Feel Better Hemp Co., describes CBG as the “mother” of all subsequent minor cannabinoids.
“CBD and the other minor cannabinoids work to block pain signals and reduce inflammation. CBD and CBG, for example, is a great combination of cannabinoids for pets,” Denicola explained. “While CBD dominant products are better for calming, CBG dominant products help more with mobility. Our calming product leverages both of these, and the low dose of CBG in this tablet helps provide an uplifted mood.”
Holistic Hound was the first brand to launch a pet CBG product, doing so in 2019. At the time, Heidi Hill, founder of the brand, said “CBG is not ‘the new CBD’ or a replacement for CBD, but rather an amazing complement to it. Although there are some similarities with other cannabinoids, CBG has its own unique healing benefits and is an exciting new product option for pet parents looking for natural alternatives to improving the health, wellness and longevity of dogs and cats… CBG has great synergy with CBD and can be very balancing. We believe they can be used together to address an even wider range of health concerns.”
As with any other health care product for pets, education is vital. It’s a major challenge for distributors and retailers to gather knowledge on this complicated subject in order to pass on that information to consumers who often use social media and the Internet for their own research.
Denicola warns retailers to avoid jumping into the CBD and CBG sector without first doing their homework, and there’s a lot to know.
“Retailers should be aware of how the solubility of a product (or lack thereof) may be the reason consumers are returning to the store wondering why their products didn’t help their pet,” he said. “Tinctures are among the most popular CBD pet products out there, but most of that medicine doesn’t get absorbed by the body due to low solubility. Minor cannabinoids are far less soluble than CBD, so that’s something to keep in mind when looking at all of the CBG or CBN tinctures on the market.”
CBG has appeared on the radar of Heather Coots, CEO of King Wholesale, which has served the pet industry since 1987. She takes a cautious approach to any brand that she carries, especially when it involves a commodity like CBD and CBG.
“From my perspective as a distributor, I feel you have to be more careful than ever that you’re researching the brands that you want to partner with,” she said. “There’s so much competition out there, and these brands all are so similar. You have to make sure they’ve really done all the testing. They all have a similar sales pitch, and not all hemp-CBD brands are going through distribution — some want to go direct-to-retailer.
“I want to know which ones are going to support the brick-and-mortar retailer so they can pass it on to the consumer and keep the sales going,” she continued. “I value the brands that are really supporting brick-and-mortars. That’s what I’m looking for in a hemp-CBD brand.”
Treatibles and HEMPVET are two CBD brands that King Wholesale currently carries, and Coots says she’s excited to recently become a distribution partner of Green Coast Pet, which offers a variety of broad-spectrum CBD products from hemp that is grown in New York on a USDA Certified organic farm.
“I look for what type of support these retailers can get from brands and, for me, Treatibles has done a great job of training, offering promotions, trying to make sure they’re relevant in the space,” she explained. “HEMPVET has a great line, and their most popular product for us is in treat form. They’ve even promoted that their high potency soft chews are the way to go.”
Based on the price point and palatability of product, Coots calls treats “a definite go-to product,” but she advises that retailers keep oil tinctures at the top of their must-carry list.
“If you have an older dog or a dog with a ton of anxieties, you want to hit them with the oil,” she recommended.
With so many distributors, retailers and consumers having questions about CBD and CBG, brands are being asked to provide answers that can put everyone at ease. After all, nobody wants to be giving their companion animals a product that is anything but safe and effective. Many brands are happy to respond by expressing their philosophy, mission statement and science that goes into the products that they are putting on the market.
CBDfx is a brand that offers its product in the treat and oil tincture forms that Coots notes are in demand with consumers. The soy-free, crunchy treats are naturally flavored with sweet potato and loaded with antioxidant powerhouse superfoods — blueberry, spinach and parsley — along with 450 mg of broad spectrum organic hemp extract (15 mg of CBD in each treat). The vegan, non-GMO treats are offered in two variations, Joint & Mobility and Stress & Anxiety.
The oil tinctures are made to CBDfx’s same exacting standards as its human tinctures, and they contain simple, vegan ingredients — organic, broad spectrum CBD oil, coconut-derived MCT oil and all-natural bacon flavor — with no fillers or additives. Containing the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, the tinctures are available in multiple size variations.
“Pet owners are seeking more natural remedies to keep their furry family members calm in stressful moments and improve their overall quality of life,” said Jameson Rodgers, co-founder and chief commercial officer. “CBDfx is committed to creating high quality, safe and effective CBD products, and those standards extend to all of our pet products, first with our CBD pet tinctures and now our pet treats. Our best friends deserve the same relief that their owners have found with our products.”
Canopy Animal Health is a division of Canopy Growth Corporation, one of the world’s leading cannabis companies. Earlier this year, leading scientists at Canopy Animal Health developed SurityPro, a portfolio that Canopy calls the “new generation of advanced pet specialty CBD product for dogs” to support calm behavior, joint health and flexibility, healthy aging and an enhanced overall mental well-being.
SurityPro is scientifically formulated to deliver carefully controlled CBD content for customized daily use in dogs of all sizes. Canopy members point to the fact that SurityPro products carry the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) quality seal, which denotes strict adherence to manufacturing, labeling, testing and marketing guidelines.
“We knew from the beginning that we were going to commit ourselves to following the regulations and guidelines set by the NASC,” said Robert Menardi, DVM, director of veterinary educational and technical services at Canopy Animal Health. “The NASC has been invaluable in setting guardrails to make sure that companies do things right. The NASC Quality Seal affirms our dedication to providing safe and high quality CBD products for companion animals. After four years of continuing research, testing and collaborating with the veterinary community and regulatory authorities, our new products meet the most rigorous quality standards. We are the industry leader in pet CBD research, with more than 32 completed studies into the potential use of cannabinoids in pet health.”
Kadenwood, a leading consumer seed-to-shelf CBD company, last October launched Purity Preferred, which was created with canine and feline well-being at the forefront of the development process. The brand’s first two benefit-focused products, Purity Preferred Calming CBD oil drops and Purity Preferred Hip & Joint CBD oil drops, are formulated using a blend of Kadenwood’s proprietary broad-spectrum CBD oil along with krill oil and moringa oil, both which are active anti-inflammatory ingredients. In addition, Krill oil can improve short- and long-term cognitive ability for further support, while moringa oil has been shown to reduce oxidative stress to help promote optimal health.
Purity Preferred Hip & Joint CBD oils also feature copaiba, an essential oil that has proven beneficial as an anti-inflammatory agent to help reduce symptoms of arthritis. The brand is driven by the belief that, when it comes to CBD, potency is key. The two benefit-focused formulations are available in a range of potencies, allowing pet owners to select a product to suit their needs based on the size of the pet.
Purity Preferred owns and operates hemp farms and greenhouses in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland and West Virginia. This allows the company to research new farming techniques and technologies without jeopardizing quality and reliability.
Founded in 2014, NuLeaf Naturals uses eco-friendly extraction methods and independent labs to confirm its CBD products are free from pesticides, herbicides, mold, heavy metals and mycotoxins. The brand’s testing also guarantees its products contain the optimal amount of cannabinoids and terpenes.
The brand’s full spectrum CBD oil contains no additives, and the only ingredient is organic hemp. According to Christian Chambers, sales director at NuLeaf Naturals, this is all part of the brand’s commitment to creating the highest quality of CBD products in their most pure and potent form.
“At NuLeaf Naturals, we believe pets are members of the family and deserve the same premium quality CBD products,” said Christian Chambers, sales director of NuLeaf Naturals. “As a natural alternative, CBD may help keep your pet calm and relaxed, promote healthy hips and joints, and skin and coat health. When you give your pets NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil, you can rest assured it’s safe, consistent and effective.”
CBD Living is an international, world-class company that was formed by a team of global scientists, business minds and thought leaders. With a portfolio of more than 100 CBD products, CBD Living utilizes three different delivery systems for the absorption of CBD. In addition to CBD, the brand’s products also include important nutrients needed to promote an overall healthy pet in its mission to target the reason why a pet may be anxious or in pain.
According to Bill Disegna, founder and CEO of CBD Living Pet, the company sources its raw ingredients from reputable dietary suppliers locally in the United States. To guarantee product safety, all materials and finished products are tested by third-party labs for potency, microbiological contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals and residual solvents.
Who benefits from these holistic health products? Based on the 2020 consumer survey by Brightfield Group, it is primarily dogs. According to the survey, 89 percent of pet parents who purchase pet CBD claim to do so for their dog. Dog owners point to anxiety-related issues as the most common reason for the purchase.
However, while cats also suffer from anxiety, and 65 percent of cat owners cited it as their reason for using pet CBD, the Brightfield Group survey found that other well-being issues were reported at higher rates in cats than in dogs – with a desire to improve the pet’s mood or treat depression topping the list.
In closing, Brightfield Group reported that 89 percent of pet parents they surveyed are generally happy with the effects CBD has on their pets’ lives, with the most cited improvements being the animal being calmer (23 percent), having increased mobility (17 percent) and experiencing better sleep (17 percent).