To understand clearly what CBD oil is, you need to know the difference between cannabis, marijuana, and hemp. Marijuana and hemp are both cannabis plants, in fact, they are both the same species of plant.
Both marijuana and hemp contain compounds called cannabinoids. There are more than a hundred different cannabinoids in cannabis plants. Two of the more well-known cannabinoids are THC and cannabidoil (CBD).
The difference between marijuana and hemp lies in the percentage of THC they contain. Marijuana is a cannabis plant that is high in THC. THC is psychoactive, meaning it causes a high when you ingest it. Hemp is a cannabis plant that is low in THC, typically containing less than 0.3 percent THC.
Where does CBD oil come into the picture?
CBD oil is a product derived from hemp, in other words, it contains no or negligible amounts of THC. CBD oil is made by extracting the compound from the flowers and stems of hemp and suspending it in a carrier oil, such as olive, coconut, or hemp seed oil.
Since THC is highly toxic for dogs, CBD oil derived from hemp is recommended.
Why do people give their dogs CBD oil?
Dog owners use CBD oil to treat their dogs for arthritis, pain, seizures, cancer, and anxiety. The scientific evidence that these treatments work is still lacking, but anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, so dog owners are going ahead and treating their dogs with CBD oil.
Apply the same standards to treatment for your dog as you would to treatment for yourself. In other words, if you prefer to take products that contain no harmful ingredients, buy the same for your dog.
There are many factors to consider when you buy CBD oil for dogs. Let’s analyze them.
- Only purchase oil made from organic hemp
The CBD should be sourced from organically grown hemp, but what does that mean? Organic is a term that has been in use since the late nineties to indicate that an agricultural product was grown without any synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or other non-organic adulterants.
Companies across the United States add the words ‘’organically-grown’’ and ‘’organic’’ to their products, including CBD products, but does that mean anything? In most cases, it means absolutely nothing. Why? Because there are no rules governing the use of the word ‘’organic’’ used on packaging in the US. Companies that want to stand out from the crowd legitimately, can apply for the USDA organic seal and most people won’t even know what that seal looks like.
The EPA has approved as many as 59 pesticides for use in conventional hemp farming. These pesticides were approved in 2019, and many CBD brands started using them without declaring the fact on their packaging or their websites, while still claiming that their products are derived from organically grown plants. They get away with it because there are no official regulations preventing them from doing so, because the words ‘’organic’’ and ‘’organically grown’’ are not regulated.
The only way to prove that a product was manufactured to organic standards, is to obtain the USDA organic seal and that is a rigorous process that few companies attempt.
Why the USDA seal is so important
Hemp is a bio-accumulator. That means it can absorb a vast range of compounds from the soil, including radioactive elements, heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, explosives and fuel. This is a natural ability of hemp.
The Hemp Industry Daily warns that with the current regulations, CBD products can easily, and often do, contain heavy metals. This is extremely dangerous for humans, as regular exposure or ingestion can cause serious health issues, even cancer and death.
This is why a full-panel COA is absolutely crucial.
- Certificate of Analysis (COA)
A COA indicates that an independent lab has tested the product and verified that it is what it purports to be. The lab performs chemical analyses to confirm that the product doesn’t exceed the legal limit of 0.3% THC and doesn’t contain contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, or residual solvents.
The COA should confirm that a USDA organic seal was obtained for the product. Without this seal, and a third-party confirmation of it, you can’t be sure that the product you’re buying is free of heavy metals or other contaminants. Never buy a CBD oil product that doesn’t display evidence that the product has been analyzed by an independent lab.
If you are not sure, check on the manufacturer’s website for confirmation. If you cannot find a COA on the manufacturer’s website, don’t buy the product.
The COA should confirm that the product contains high concentrations of CBD and no or only 0.3% THC.
- Find out what extraction method was used
Manufacturers use different methods to extract CBD from the hemp plant to make CBD oil. The methods produce different results that will have different effects on the person or animal ingesting it. It’s important to understand the different extraction methods.
There are four methods to extract CBD from hemp, olive oil extraction, steam extraction, carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction and hydrocarbon extraction. Olive oil extraction is safe and cost-effective, but the resulting product can quickly deteriorate, so should always be kept in a dark glass container and at low temperatures. Steam distillation is also a safe method of extraction, but requires a lot of plant material to obtain the desired CBD concentrations.
The most common methods are hydrocarbon and carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction. Both methods are used, but CO2 extraction has become more commonplace and is generally used by reputable manufacturers.
Hydrocarbon extraction uses harmful solvents to extract the CBD from the hemp plants, leaving traces of these chemicals in the CBD extract.
The CO2 extraction method uses compressed liquid carbon dioxide to extract the oil. In the process, the CO2 evaporates, leaving no residue behind, only pure CBD oil.
Finding CBD brands that implement CO2 extraction will ensure that you’re spending your money on a pure product free from harmful residues.
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate?
You will notice that you can choose between three types of CBD extracts: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. While all three have benefits, their benefits differ.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Keep in mind that according to federal regulations, CBD products should not contain more than 0.3% THC at the most.
The benefit of a full-spectrum product is that the different cannabinoids strengthen each other’s effects and create the so-called ‘’entourage effect.’’ There’s some evidence that the entourage effect strengthens the effect of the different cannabinoids.
Broad-spectrum CBD oil also contains a wide range of cannabinoids, but it doesn’t contain any THC.
Isolate is the purest form of CBD since the product has been further refined to contain only CBD and no other cannabinoids. CBD isolate doesn’t provide any benefits from the entourage effect.
- Look for nano-sized emulsion CBD
The method used to emulsify the CBD affects its bioavailability, in other words, the amount available to the body. The higher the bioavailability, the better.
Most quality CBD oil will indicate liposomal emulsion, but nano-sized emulsion is optimal.
Standard liposomal emulsion yields droplets between 100 and 1000 nanometers (nm) in size, with nano-sized emulsion producing droplet sizes of 10-100 nm. These minute droplets maximize the body’s ability to synthesize and absorb CBD. Liposomal emulsion produces good absorption and most products use this method. However, nano-sized emulsion is best, but few manufacturers use this method.
- Watch out for the THC levels
Any CBD product that you buy for your dog should ideally contain no THC at all or at least less than 0.3%. It is better to buy a product that contains no THC at all as THC is highly toxic to dogs and even trace amounts of the substance could affect a small dog. Study the COA for confirmation that the product meets this requirement.
- CBD interacts with certain prescription drugs
It’s important to know that CBD interacts with certain prescription drugs, which can cause unwanted effects. If your dog is already on medication, consult your veterinarian before you give your dog any CBD.
When CBD interacts with medications, it can cause the body to metabolize the medice too fast or too slowly. When the body metabolizes a medication too slowly, the medication may stay in the body for too long, and at one point, there may be too much of the drug in the system. On the other hand, when the body breaks down a medication too fast, it might lose some of its efficacy.
- Don’t buy hemp oil or hemp seed oil
Hemp seed oil is made with the seeds of the hemp plant, which contains no CBD. CBD is present in the flowers and stems of the cannabis plant. Hemp oil is fine to buy, but it must be full-spectrum hemp oil, so it contains CBD.
If the label simply states ‘’hemp oil’’, there is no way to verify that the product actually contains CBD. Again. Check the COA to be sure what’s in the product.
It is not a simple matter to buy a CBD product for yourself or your dog. There are questionable products on the market that, at the very least, don’t contain any noticeable amounts of CBD and, at the most, contain dangerous heavy metals. Be sure to do your due diligence so you are informed and know exactly what you are looking for when you go out to buy a CBD product.