We’ve combined all the aspects of CBD & brands that dog owners should care most about into one complete scoring system. Our aim is to provide a helpful snapshot that supports our in-depth reviews.

Here’s how we assess CBD brands for dogs, including the reasoning behind our seven scoring categories:

Our seven scoring categories:
1. Cannabinoid Range
2. Safe, balanced THC
3. Label accuracy
4. Carrier oil
5. Certification
6. Owner reviews
7. Shopping experience

1. Cannabinoid range

CBD is one of hundreds of cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp plants. Many CBD oils include these secondary cannabis compounds, as they offer additional anti-inflammatory and soothing effects, and can help dogs to absorb CBD.

While CBD is always the main active ingredient in oils, it’s normal for the highest-quality products to contain CBG, CBN, CBC, and even tiny traces of THC (in quantities less than 0.3 percent per extract.)

How we judge cannabinoid range

When we judge the range of cannabinoids a brand offers, we look at whether their products contain CBD plus appropriate ratios of these cannabinoids, which have all shown anti-inflammatory effects in studies.

Extracting additional cannabinoids and other active compounds from hemp is perfectly safe and don’t increase the risk of mind-altering effects. In fact, these full-spectrum extractions are thought to expand CBD’s effectiveness, thanks to a concept called the entourage effect.

This says that cannabis compounds act synergistically with CBD, boosting anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory effects in a way that’s not possible when each compound is isolated and consumed alone.

Some owners prefer products with zero-THC guarantees, and there are several ‘broad spectrum’ or ‘ isolate’ CBD brands meeting this demand. Because we score by cannabinoid range, these products often rank lower for this category. However, we’ve included a spot specifically for THC-free oils in our list of CBD oils for Dogs rankings.

Our Charlottes Web CBD oil for dogs review scored highest in this category, containing 7/7 of the cannabinoids analyzed.

2. Safe, balanced THC

Dogs should never consume oils made from marijuana plants, which contain more than 0.3 percent THC. All the oils we recommend on our website are made from hemp, so they fall below this safe and legal threshold.

At the same time, trace levels of THC are an indication of a full spectrum extraction. The cannabinoid also possesses its own pain-fighting qualities and is thought to enhance the entourage effect. We check for an appropriate balance.

How we judge safe, balanced THC

When we judge the safety and balance of a CBD brand, we check a product’s ratio of CBD to THC. We’re looking for substantial levels of THC that remain within safe limits.

*Data collected from the most recent lab reports available on each brand’s site, as of January 16, 2021

Industrial hemp is legally restricted to containing less than 0.3 percent THC in the original plant flowers, thanks to the 2018 federal Farm Bill. So when owners shop from hemp-made products, they can feel confident that anything featuring THC is safe for their pup.

While every hemp CBD oil contains safe levels of cannabis compounds, individual plant strains do vary slightly. That’s why some brands go the extra mile and develop their own specific strains to capture an exact cannabinoid profile.

Because broad-spectrum and isolate oils are created without THC at all, they are scored ‘N/A’ in this category. If you’re looking specifically for zero-THC products, check out our picks for best THC-Free and Best Isolate oils.

Top 3 CBD brands by cannabinoid range and THC-safety

3. Label accuracy

If the label on an oil says ‘500mg CBD’ then you should expect it to contain 500mg. Accuracy is important—not just for consistent dosing, but also ensuring value for money for owners.

Accuracy suggests a professional CBD brand that pays attention to detail and uses best practices to produce its products. As a result, dogs are more likely to benefit from CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anxiety boosting effects.

Right now, CBD oils for dogs aren’t subject to FDA oversight or any universal regulator. This can make it difficult for consumers to avoid subpar products.

Third-party testing is a great way to see past marketing campaigns and find out exactly what an oil contains. We penalize brands whose labeling doesn’t match the results of independent tests.

How we judge label accuracy

When we judge a brand’s product label accuracy, we look at whether CBD levels listed on the bottle match those found by third-party lab results.

*Data collected from the most recent lab reports available on each brand’s site, as of January 16, 2021

4. Carrier oil

To get CBD into dogs’ bodies, it needs to be combined with a carrier. These can be treats, balms, creams, or oils.

We’re fans of oil carriers because CBD is more readily absorbed when consumed with high-fat foods. Oils are a convenient source of quality fats.

Cannabis extracts can be infused with almost any type of edible oil, but the industry has converged on two options: hemp seed oil and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.

MCT oil is normally made from coconuts, but has a milder taste and smell than virgin coconut oil.

A small minority of producers use more traditional plant and seed oils, such as grapeseed or olive oil.

How we judge carrier oils

We look at whether a product contains hemp, MCT, or alternative oils:

*High-quality fatty oils help CBD absorb into the body; that’s why we lean towards CBD oils over treats

5. Certification

Right now, the entire CBD pet market remains unregulated by federal standards organizations. This leaves the door open to bad actors and those looking to make a quick profit from the growing popularity of medicinal cannabis.

To help consumers avoid subpar CBD oils, industry leaders have come together to form certifying bodies. These collectives ask brands to submit their products to a series of audits designed to separate the genuine brands from the pretenders.

Related: What to look for when choosing a reputable CBD for dogs brands

How we judge certification

When we judge a brand’s certification, we check whether they’re listed by the NASC or US Hemp Authority, and whether they post third party lab test results for their products.

*All the brands we recommend display lab certifications on their website

6. Owner reviews

Knowing that a CBD product has been carefully produced and offers good value for money is great—but we also need to see that real dogs and owners have benefited from CBD over the long term.

Today’s online marketplaces are struggling with the issue of fake or misleading reviews. To avoid unethical marketing, we look at reviews posted on Google and Facebook.

These platforms contain their own vetting mechanisms and are less vulnerable to tampering than reviews hosted by brands.

Owners are the ultimate authority on their dog’s health, so multiple positive ratings from pet parents helps us know that products are consistently effective across breeds and canine needs.

How we judge owner reviews

When we judge owner reviews, we look at whether a CBD brand has collected positive unbiased reviews on Google and Facebook.

*Collected from unbiased Google & Facebook reviews on January 16, 2021

7. Shopping experience

Our lowest weighted category looks at whether CBD brands put owners and their dogs first, with no-fuss shipping, incentives for long-term customers, and guarantees that make it easier to try out oils for the first time.

Why does shopping experience matter?

Many owners use CBD on a daily basis, which means they rely on brands for a consistent supply. For this reason, it’s important to interact with brands that reward customer loyalty.

We score brands more highly when they take steps to reduce additional costs and offer incentives to repeat customers.

Most often, this means free shipping and/or providing a discount when owners subscribe to receive products on a monthly basis.

Because CBD can be expensive, and dogs may need to try several brands before finding a good fit, we also award points to brands that make it easier for owners to sample products. Currently, most brands achieve this via money-back guarantees.

How we judge shopping experience

When we judge shopping experience, we look at whether a CBD brand has:

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