Cannabinoids 101

How to Read a CBD Product Label

October 12, 2019 3 min read

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There are no established standards for labels of CBD-containing pet products because, to date, there are no regulatory standards for pet CBD products.

This makes it incredibly difficult for consumers. With so much hype around CBD for pets, yet so little credible information, the best you can do is to research, talk to your veterinarian, and follow the guidelines listed below.

Find the manufacturer and find out about them.

Look for the logo or the words ‘manufactured by.’ If there’s a website listed on the label, visit it. Research the company. Do they have experience in pet/veterinary products? Can you learn about their manufacturing processes?

Once you’ve answered those questions to your satisfaction, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian to see if they have any information or opinion about the company.

Is the product intended specifically for pets?

You can learn more about the differences between CBD products for pets and CBD products for humans here, but the bottom line is this: If a product wasn’t produced specifically for pets, it may contain ingredients that are harmful to them. Never administer a CBD product to your pet unless it was made for veterinary use, and even then, consult a veterinarian before giving your pet any product.

Was the product tested, and how?

Companies with products backed by science will often freely share study results, as long as they don’t reveal proprietary information. If the manufacturer of the product you’re considering will not provide study results on safety and/or efficacy, this may be a warning sign that the product has not been sufficiently tested. If it wasn’t tested, don’t use your pet as a test case.

What are the CBD levels and what else is in the product?

Levels of CBD can vary widely from product to product. Across products with hemp-derived ingredients, levels of CBD may differ depending on the part of the hemp plant from which the ingredient was derived (e.g., plant stalk vs. plant flower). Extraction processes also impact levels of cannabinoids.

To make matters even more confusing, since products on the market have yet to be given FDA approval, there is no one regulating the quality of, or the amount of CBD or any other ingredients, in the products.

Always look for a certificate of analysis.

A Certificate of Analysis (COA) is your ‘best defense’ in this non-regulated landscape. A COA provides an analytical summary of the composition of a product - i.e., its constituents, and the amounts of these constituents in the product.  For a cannabinoid-containing product, a COA should provide levels of all cannabinoids occurring in the product and other compounds, such as terpenes. Levels of unwanted compounds, such as heavy metal levels and pesticides, should also be provided.

If there is no COA attached to a product, or the manufacturer or retailer cannot supply one when asked, take that as a warning sign. We strongly recommend you purchase products for which you have access to a COA.

Finally: it’s your pet, and it’s perfectly fine to be skeptical.

In an unregulated industry, it’s hard to tell what’s fact and what’s fiction. And, when you’re just trying to do the right thing for your pet, it’s okay to take the time to be sure. Reading labels is a good start, so is talking to your veterinarian, who will likely be an excellent source of information. Waiting until you’re completely informed and sure of what you’re buying is always your best decision.