People turn to many resources to help overcome certain physical and emotional ailments. When they find something that aids in their well-being, such as cannabidiol (CBD) products, it seems only natural for them to wonder if these same products can benefit their pets. Industry insiders and pet owners are saying they do, and the CBD product category is surging as a result.
"Through the years, the pet supplements market has benefited from the popularization and cross-over of various ingredients from the human side, such as glucosamine and omega fatty acids," said David Sprinkle, research director for market research firm Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, in a statement. "Looking back, however, it’s hard to recall anything making more of a splash in both human and pet supplements than CBD."
The "pets as people" movement not only means taking care of pets physically, but emotionally as well, including when it comes to stress reduction, according to Packaged Facts. In its 2018 Pet Owner Survey, 85 percent of dog owners and 38 percent of cat owners agree that, "My pet sometimes has anxiety/stress issues." There clearly is a need, the report’s authors noted, which has created more opportunities for CBD products in the pet market.
Patti Eaker, owner of Pawsitively Healthy Pet Supply, a pet store in Bradenton, Fla., reported strong sales of CBD products.
"I’m a very small retailer, but as people try it with their pets and see the results, they become repeat buyers," Eaker said.
Randy Klein, co-owner of Whiskers Holistic Petcare, which has two stores in New York, and Carla Torppey, manager of Living Pawsitively, a pet store in Lafayette Township, N.J., have both seen CBD product sales increase in the past year.
"We have many customers turning to holistic vets and coming into natural local shops, such as our own, to find out what exactly CBD does and if it might help their furry friends," Torppey said.
According to insiders, CBD can help pets in a variety of ways, such as by reducing anxiety, alleviating joint discomfort, reducing the frequency of seizures and more.
"Although we can’t legally support certain claims because of the lack of studies, we have heard an astounding amount of positive feedback from customers who have used our products for many other types of medically diagnosed ailments as well," said Min S. Lee, co-founder and president of brand development at Honest Paws, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in League City, Texas. "There isn’t a day that passes by without a customer calling or emailing us about how our products have changed their pets’ lives. It is so rewarding."
While CBD products tend to be more in demand among dog owners than cat owners, the gap is narrowing, according to insiders.
"We currently sell more dog products, but that makes sense considering that more households—about 10 percent more, according to a recent survey from the American Pet Products Association (APPA)—have dogs than cats as pets," said Chelsea Gennings, co-founder and vice president of Pet Releaf, a manufacturer of CBD pet products based in Littleton, Colo. "However, we are seeing an increase in demand for cat products, especially from pet parents interested in the calming nature of the CBD oil."
Honest Paws recently started offering a CBD oil specifically for cats, and it has turned out to be one of the company’s fastest growing SKUs, Lee said.
"From what we can tell, it appears as though both dog and cat owners have found CBD to be effective for many of the same uses, including anxiety, inflammation, mobility issues, etc.," Lee said. "One key difference between the species is that cats are known to have much more sensitive endocannabinoid systems (ECS) and digestive systems. For this reason, we always suggest cat owners start with lower doses to determine what is the most effective dosage for their pet."
Extracting the Benefits of CBD
The benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) products might be contributing all of the buzz, but what lies behind the label?
"The CBD itself is extracted from the hemp plant using various methods of extraction, such as alcohol (solvent) method or CO2 extraction (subcritical or supercritical)," said Min S. Lee, co-founder and president of brand development at Honest Paws, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in League City, Texas. "Our oil is produced using a supercritical CO2 extraction method as it is widely considered the cleanest and most effective way to produce a full-spectrum oil that contains more terpenes and cannabinoids compared with other methods."
Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids found within the source cannabis plant, such as cannabinol (CBN), cannabicyclol (CBL) and cannabichromevarinic acid (CBCVA), according to Honest Paws’ website. All of these cannabinoids work together to give the user greater relief and provide more substantial results, company officials noted.
Full-spectrum CBD has strong advantages over isolates, agreed Chelsea Gennings, co-founder and vice president of Pet Releaf, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in Littleton, Colo.
"We quickly learned that by taking advantage of the full spectrum of cannabinoids offered by the hemp plant, and not just CBD, Pet Releaf products are effectively activating a pet’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)," Gennings said.
In essence, when the CBD stimulates the ECS, it helps promote homeostasis in the body. This reduces the sensation of pain and inhibits inflammation. Without full-spectrum CBD, a pet’s brain can only guess where its body needs more support, Gennings said.
"When taking Pet Releaf CBD for pets, the body is able to tell the brain exactly where it’s needing more help and assistance," Gennings said. "Because of this, Pet Releaf products can be seen as a ‘turbo boost’ to the immune system."
Industry insiders agree that the positive benefits associated with CBD products remain solid, even if it’s slim pickings when it comes to scientific data as it relates to pets.
"The anecdotal evidence is certainly undeniable," said Heidi Hill, certified homeopath and founder of Holistic Hound, a natural pet store and CBD pet product manufacturer in Berkeley, Calif. "But there needs to be more research on animals."
Veterinary colleges seem to agree. For example, Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences recently reported "promising" results from a pilot study assessing the use of CBD for dogs with epilepsy, and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine will be heading a clinical trial to study the effectiveness of cannabinoids to treat dogs for joint immobility. Results are expected to be available in late 2020.
Adding to the CBD Lineup
As the cannabidiol (CBD) for pets category gains in popularity, the products are becoming more diverse, including the method of delivery, product flavors and marketing options.
Pet Releaf, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in Littleton, Colo., recently added two new products to its lineup, Boom Bars and Barking Dog Edibites.
Boom Bars are hemp protein supplement bars for dogs that come in three product varieties: Longevity, Energize and Recovery. Longevity is specifically crafted with senior dogs in mind as it is formulated to promote healthy pet aging. Energize is ideal for use before a long walk or hike. Recovery is the ultimate reward for hard-working dogs after a day full of exercise, and great for after dog day care, according to the company.
Barking Dog Edibites are an all-natural, full-spectrum daily CBD supplement for dogs available in two flavors: Sushi and Pizza. The Barking Dog Collection was developed in partnership with Plant Alchemy, a botanicals and CBD products company, and is dedicated to American artist Keith Haring, with the packaging bearing Haring’s artwork.
Honest Paws, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in League City, Texas, recently introduced its CBD-Infused Peanut Butter Pouches. The pouches come in a displayable box (24 pouches per box) that is perfect for the point-of-sale location, said Min S. Lee, co-founder and president of brand development at Honest Paws.
"Retailing for only $2.99/pouch, these are the ideal way to introduce CBD to customers that are on the fence and just aren’t ready to commit to spending their money on a full-sized product," Lee said. "Each 1-ounce pouch of human-grade peanut butter comes with 10 milligrams of our full-spectrum CBD oil. They’re also great for dog travelers as an on-the-go product."
Holistic Hound recently introduced a complementary product to its CBD offerings: a full-spectrum cannabigerol (CBG) oil for pets. The company is first to market CBG for pets, according to Heidi Hill, certified homeopath and founder of Holistic Hound, a natural pet store and CBD pet product manufacturer in Berkeley, Calif.
"CBG is not ‘the new CBD’ or a replacement for CBD, but rather an amazing complement to it," Hill said. "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."
Early research suggests that CBG has many benefits for pets, including helping with anxiety and depression, Hill said. It’s unique, however, in that it has a mildly energizing and uplifting effect compared to the usually calming and relaxing effect of CBD, Hill added.
"It has greater potential for use during the day for dogs that experience grogginess with CBD," Hill said.
Holistic Hound will also launch a soft chew product for cats by early 2020.
CBD Living, which has been manufacturing CBD consumer products for the past five years, just entered the pet space. CBD Living Pet launched its new products in August at SuperZoo in Las Vegas. The lineup includes items such as pet capsules, gel capsules, a calming dog tincture, a calming cat tincture, a calming water booster, hot spot relievers, nose and paw salves, and moisturizing foams.
"We have just launched, but so far the response has been great, and sales are starting to take off," said Sean McDonald, COO of Corona, Calif.-based CBD Living.
Finding Direction in a Crowded Marketplace
With the cannabidiol (CBD) pet product category being relatively new, and rapidly expanding, pet specialty retailers might need a little direction in choosing which manufacturers to work with.
"People are seeing the benefits of CBD with themselves and their pets," said Patti Eaker, owner of Pawsitively Healthy Pet Supply, a pet store in Bradenton, Fla. "Unfortunately, there are poor quality, even dangerous CBD products on the market because companies are seeing how much money can be made by selling substandard CBD."
So, how can retailers decide which brands to stock?
Chelsea Gennings, co-founder and vice president of Pet Releaf, a manufacturer of CBD pet products based in Littleton, Colo., recommended retailers look for products carrying the U.S. Hemp Authority Certified Seal. Products that boast the seal have met the standards of a stringent third-party audit.
Min S. Lee, co-founder and president of brand development at Honest Paws, a manufacturer of CBD pet products in League City, Texas, suggested that retailers ask manufacturers how long they have been operating, if their products are white labeled, where their CBD comes from, if the CBD is full spectrum and if the ingredients are organic.
Lee also recommended that retailers ask for a certificate of analysis (COA).
"Check to see if there is any THC [tetrahydro-cannabinol] in the lab results," Lee said. "It is widely believed that canines are four to six times more prone to THC toxicity than humans. The products should always have less than 0.3 percent THC per dose."
Touring the manufacturing facility, meeting the staff and ensuring that a manufacturer can keep up with demand are also important considerations, said Sean McDonald, COO of CBD Living in Corona, Calif., which launched a pet division, CBD Living Pet, earlier this year.
Communication with CBD manufacturers is key for retailers.
"We ask [the manufacturers] lots of questions, get samples, check out the company and [take into account] feedback from customers," said Randy Klein, co-owner of Whiskers Holistic Petcare, which has two stores in New York.
Carla Torppey, manager of Living Pawsitively, a pet store in Lafayette Township, N.J., said that she researches each of the CBD products that the store carries. As part of the investigation process, Torppey said that company representatives come in to fully train staff members and give them brochures and other tools and information so "that we can help our customers and their furry friends to the best of our abilities."
Lee also agreed that manufacturer support is essential.
"Any reputable brand should provide educational support for retailers," Lee said. "After all, retailers are the lifeblood of the pet industry. Educated salespeople help sell products better, allowing for more turnover of inventory."