How to read a certificate of analysis
Right now, the CBD market is mostly unregulated by the FDA, leaving it up to producers and retailers to find other ways of monitoring quality.
The currently accepted method of building consumer confidence is for producers to submit their products for third-party testing, in order to gain a certificate of analysis.
Certificates of analysis reveal the exact cannabis compounds contained within an extraction, as well as the presence of any contaminants.
Check out this example certificate for NuLeaf Naturals Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Pet Oil, one of the brands that came out on top in our full review.
NuLeaf Naturals lists this product as full-spectrum, so we’d expect to see lots of CBD, detectable secondary cannabinoids, and less than 0.3 percent THC:
Sure enough, the extract contains a good amount of CBD, CBG, CBC, and CBDV, and is 0.25 percent THC. Overall, this makes the product a rich full spectrum oil.
In addition to cannabinoids, this certificate also details terpenes. It shows the extract contains three main terpenes, including β-caryophyllene, which has been shown to have an antimicrobial effect in dogs:
Certificates of analysis are often formatted in slightly different ways depending on the lab, and may or may not test for terpenes. But at a minimum, they should always show the cannabinoids and contaminants found in an extract.
For example, this NuLeaf Naturals certificate confirms that the oil contains no detectable traces of pesticides or solvents:
As you explore more certificates of analysis, you’ll begin to notice that the ‘full spectrum’ label doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story about an extract. For example, this certificate is from Honest Paw’s Calm tincture, another product featured as our Best CBD oil for dogs review:
Here, the extract contains CBD, CBG, and an acceptable amount of THC, but there are no detectable terpenes or other cannabinoids.
Both oils are marketed as ‘full spectrum’ and both are popular with owners. But the results show that the extractions are actually quite different, with one placing a much stronger emphasis on secondary ingredients.
This is why dogs will often respond differently to different CBD oils. Owners may need to experiment to find the type of extraction that suits their pup the best.
One thing to watch: Most CBD brands make their certificates easily accessible on their websites. A few, however, require consumers to enter a batch number in order to view test results.
Realistically, this means only those who have purchased a product can access the full ingredient breakdown, which we don’t think is acceptable.
If you’re concerned about what’s inside your dog’s CBD oil, don’t consider a product that doesn’t come with a certificate of analysis.