The confusing thing about CBD products is that they often contain more than just CBD. Many hemp extractions are designed to capture a wide range of compounds from the plant, helping dogs to experience the full benefits of cannabis without getting high.

So what are these other cannabis compounds in pet products, and how can owners choose the right combination for their dog?

THC and CBD

The celebrities of the cannabis world, THC and CBD are both types of cannabinoids. These compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect by stimulating the body’s endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) reaches across the brain, the digestive system, and the central nervous system, and is found in dogs, humans, and most mammals. Its receptors are activated by naturally-made cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, as well as the cannabinoids found in cannabis.

While THC and CBD are similarly effective, CBD has the advantage of being non-psychoactive, meaning that dogs won’t get high on their own supply.

The hemp used to make quality pet products is legally restricted to 0.3 percent THC, meaning that even full spectrum extractions with high amounts of CBD only contain small traces of THC.

Other cannabinoids

The celebrities of the cannabis world, THC and CBD are both types of cannabinoids. These compounds have an anti-inflammatory effect by stimulating the body’s endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (or ECS) reaches across the brain, the digestive system, and the central nervous system, and is found in dogs, humans, and most mammals. Its receptors are activated by naturally-made cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, as well as the cannabinoids found in cannabis.

While THC and CBD are similarly effective, CBD has the advantage of being non-psychoactive, meaning that dogs won’t get high on their own supply.

The hemp used to make quality pet products is legally restricted to 0.3 percent THC, meaning that even full spectrum extractions with high amounts of CBD only contain small traces of THC.

Terpenes

Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes are a common component of many plants and fruits, with hundreds of varieties found in nature. They are the aromatic oils responsible for the distinctive smells of pine trees, citrus fruits, and of course, cannabis.

More than being flavorful, research suggests that terpenes have a complementary effect on cannabinoids, helping increase or decrease their effect on the body depending on the ratios found in an extraction.

We’ve reviewed hundreds of CBD products. Here are the ones that earned best in show.

Different brands, different strains, different ratios

All of these compounds are found in different levels depending on the CBD product you buy. Looking at the listed ‘spectrum’ will give some indication of what an oil contains:

  • Full spectrum CBD = a full extraction should contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the original hemp plant.
  • Broad spectrum CBD = a curated extraction in which producers remove THC and may artificially manipulate the ratios of other cannabinoids.
  • Pure isolate CBD = an intensive extraction that leaves only CBD and no other materials.

To be sure of what a CBD product contains, however, owners should always read the certificate of analysis.

This set of third party lab test results are considered standard for any reputable CBD brand, and detail the exact levels of cannabinoids, terpenes, and any contaminants within an extraction.

Here’s our full explainer on CBD spectrums, as well as how to read a certificate of analysis.

Cannabis compounds: the full breakdown

Here’s a full table of all the compounds found in pet CBD, and the canine conditions they may help to treat:

Cannabinoids
CBD
Cannabidiol

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Anxiety

Pain

Training

Seizures

Receptiveness


What can it do?

THC
Tetrahydrocannabinol

Relevant canine conditions


Pain


What can it do?

  • In trace amounts (less than 0.3 percent), THC relieves pain and can contribute to the effectiveness of other cannabis compounds.
  • In larger quantities often found in non-pet products, THC can have psychoactive and toxic effects on dogs.
  • The Pet Poison Helpline has seen a recent spike in cases of dogs becoming sick after consuming cannabis products designed for humans.
CBG
cannabigerol

Relevant canine conditions


Cancer

Inflammation


What can it do?

  • CBG has demonstrated anti-tumor properties when tested on human gastrointestinal cancer cells.
  • In a 2013 paper, CBG reduced inflammation associated with IBD in mice.
CBN
cannabinol

Relevant canine conditions


Anxiety

Pain


What can it do?

  • In rats, CBN has been shown to possess pain-relieving abilities, especially when used in combination with THC.
  • Anecdotal reports and one older study also suggest that CBN is a mild sedative, and can be used as a sleep aid.
CBC
cannabichromene

Relevant canine conditions


Anxiety

Pain


What can it do?

  • Research suggests CBC is able to fight pain by stimulating the release of anandamide, a natural pain-fighting compound produced by the body.
  • In mice, CBC is shown to have an antidepressant effect, improving animal’s reactions to stressful stimuli.
CBD-V
cannabidivarin

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Seizures


What can it do?

  • CBD-V is being used by major pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs that reduce epilepsy and seizures in humans.
  • CBD-V targets neural pathways associated with the onset and progression of epilepsy.
  • According to a 2019 study, CBD-V may also reduce inflammation and restore muscle function.
CBD-A
Cannabidiolic Acid

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Appetite Issues


What can it do?

  • Research shows that CBDA performs the same inhibitory processes as NSAIDs when reducing inflammation.
  • A 2013 Canadian study found CBDA is significantly more effective than CBD at reducing nausea and anxiety, by binding to serotonin receptors.
Terpenes
Alpha-humulene
Earth / Wood

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Appetite Issues


What can it do?

  • Alpha-humulene possesses anti-inflammatory effects and there’s evidence it may help suppress appetite.
Pinene
Pine / Parsley

Relevant canine conditions


Cancer

Infection


What can it do?

  • Pinene has shown an ability in clinical studies to act as an anti-cancer agent, suppressing cancer cells.
  • It’s also believed to possess antibiotic properties when combined with CBD and CBN, says a 2015 paper.
Terpinolene
Fresh Flowers

Relevant canine conditions


Cancer

Infection


What can it do?

  • Terpinolene is a known antimicrobial and may help dogs resist infection.
  • Studies suggest terpinolene inhibits proteins related to cancer progression.
Limonene
Citrus

Relevant canine conditions


Anxiety

Inflammation


What can it do?

  • A 2020 study associated limonene with reductions in anxiety.
  • In a second study in rats with inflammatory disease, limonene significantly decreased inflammation and colon damage.
Myrcene
Earth / Cloves

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Pain


What can it do?

  • Myrcene produces a mild sedative effect, and a 1990 study reduces the sensation of pain when administered to mice.
B-Caryophyllene
Black Pepper

Relevant canine conditions


Inflammation

Receptiveness

Pain

Infection

Training


What can it do?

  • Like cannabinoids, beta-caryophyllene is able to interact with receptors in the ECS, which means it’s able to  soothe pain and inflammation.
  • These effects appear to be enhanced when taken in combination with humulene.
  • A 2020 study found that beta-caryophyllene reduced addictive behavior in mice, suggesting it can play a role in behavior modification
  • Finally, the beta-caryophyllene has shown the ability to reduce plaque-forming bacteria in dog’s mouths
Linalool
Lavender

Relevant canine conditions


Anxiety

Receptiveness

Training

Seizures


What can it do?

  • Linalool promotes relaxation, helping dogs accept new training routines.
  • A much-cited 1999 study showed anticonvulsant activity related to linalool, meaning it may also help prevent seizures.

Note: many concentrated forms of terpenes, such as insect repellents and essential oils, are toxic to dogs, and should always be kept safely away from pets.

The small amounts that naturally occur in cannabis and other plants should not pose any health risk, though some dogs do find strong terpene aromas off-putting.

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The entourage effect

Beyond their individual benefits, many cannabis experts recommend products that contain a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes because of something called the entourage effect.

Suspected by cannabis producers for decades, and first officially reviewed by researchers in 2011, the entourage effect is the idea that cannabis compounds work synergistically, creating a stronger and wider reaching-effect when consumed together.

The reason behind the entourage effect is thought to lie in the complex relationships between cannabis compounds—many of which are still unknown and un-researched. For example, there are some indications that particular terpenes aid the absorption of cannabinoids into the body.

As a result, dogs may benefit more from rich full spectrum than isolate products, even if both contain the same amount of CBD.

Read next: Everything we currently know about the entourage effect

Here’s how the so-called entourage effect could help your dog get more from their CBD products… continue reading >

Or try: The COMPLETE guide to CBD oil for dogs

This complete guide is designed to give owners a single authoritative resource on everything CBD… continue reading >