Pet hemp supplement CBD levels vary; 4 with heavy metals

Researchers employed by a CBD pet supplement company analyzed 29 hemp-based pet supplements sold online in the United States.

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(Dmitry_Tishchenko |
(Dmitry_Tishchenko |

Researchers analyzed 29 hemp-based pet supplements sold online in the United States. The scientists found that the levels of CBD and other cannabinoids varied widely among the pet products. Of the 29, only 18 hemp-based pet supplements met appropriate labeling guidelines for non-medication, non-dietary supplements, as set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the scientists. Most of the study authors were employed by a CBD pet supplement company.

To avoid dosage inaccuracies, hemp-based pet supplement companies may need to follow certain steps to ensure consistency, one study author said. The first step involves quality control of hemp products used as pet food ingredients.

“Folks can ensure the accuracy of dosing by first examining a company certificate of analysis (COA) and asking for multiple batches of product to see if there is any variation batch to batch,” said study co-author Dr. Joseph Wakshlag, Ph.D., D.V.M., Cornell University veterinary medicine professor and consultant for ElleVet Sciences, a CBD pet supplement company.

As an example, ElleVet analyzes the extract prior to use, he said. The company also tests the finished products immediately after production, then tests again 18 months later to check for degradation of the cannabinoids.

Heavy metals in hemp-based pet food supplements

The journal Veterinary Medicine published Wakshlag’s study, “Cannabinoid, Terpene, and Heavy Metal Analysis of 29 Over-the-Counter Commercial Veterinary Hemp Supplements.”

Also in that research’s results, four hemp-based pet supplements contained heavy metals, including lead, arsenic and cadmium. In one hemp powder supplement, arsenic levels tested above the limit for oral consumption. A hemp oil pet supplement contained 2,296 µg/mL of lead, which is above acceptable oral consumption levels according to current United States Pharmacopeia guidelines. 

No pattern seemed to connect these hemp-based pet supplements, though.

“All four products are made by different companies,” Wakshlag said. “We found listed addresses for three of the four companies and all three are based in different states. We could only find where one of the four companies source their hemp. Additionally, all the heavy metal profiles were different from each other.”

As the popularity of CBD and other supplements derived from hemp grew, numerous companies entered the market without conducting extensive analysis of either ingredients or finished products, he said.

“The biggest takeaway is that you need to know the company you are working with and know their research and their testing process, as well as to ask for a COA,” he said. “Find out what their dosing is based on. Is there a pharmacokinetic study on their actual product or are they guessing or copying another company?”

“There are a lot of ‘me too’ companies or companies trying to jump on the CBD bandwagon when their analysis is not even similar to what we used in our clinical study,” he said.

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