A lack of FDA oversight and universal regulation in the CBD market means that genuine producers are often forced to compete with bad actors and those more interested in profits than pups.

This leaves it up to consumers to shop with scrutiny—and with so many CBD companies out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

Here are ten signs to help owners spot a good CBD oil for dogs brand, one that truly cares about both cannabis oil and their pets.

1. Accessible 3rd party test results

As the CBD industry gets closer to the mainstream, reputable CBD brands have agreed on a few basic ways to help build consumer confidence. The most important of these is an independent certificate of analysis.

Certificates of analysis are produced by 3rd party labs and detail the exact contents of a brand’s CBD extraction. This means consumers can see whether the product labels accurately show the amount of CBD inside, and whether an extraction has retained a good mix of secondary cannabis compounds such as CBG, CBN, and terpenes, which help boost CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects.

These additional cannabinoids can play a big part in choosing the best CBD oil for your dog, whether it be for arthritis, cancer, anxiety,

These certificates are also great for checking oil purity. Most labs will test for common contaminants, such as traces of pesticides used by subpar hemp farms, and residual solvents that can be leftover when CBD is improperly extracted. CBD oils should contain zero levels of both.

A good CBD brand will submit its products for independent testing on a regular schedule, such as the lab result shown below from our Honest Paws review, and make the results easily accessible to the public. If a brand hides its lab results behind non-accessible batch numbers or requires consumers to request them by email, consider it a red flag.

honest paws cbd certificate analysis

2. Seed to shelf

This term refers to CBD brands with involvement across the entire CBD production process, from germinating hemp seeds to distributing finished products to customers. It’s a signal that a real, substantial company exists behind the branding—not just a warehouse and a website.

That said, ‘seed to shelf’ can refer to different types of setup, and it’s worth looking into exactly what a brand means by the term.

The ultimate seed to shelf brands own their own farms, grow their own hemp, and oversee their distribution and customer service. Others might use farm collectives, where different companies own shares in one large farm.

At a minimum, a seed to shelf brand will source all their hemp from a single farm, which allows them to talk about their ‘close relationships with farmers.’ All these options are preferable to brands that can’t trace their ingredients back to the soil.

3. Hemp strain experts

Similarly, it’s a great sign when brands are able to talk authoritatively about the plants behind their CBD products. A handful of brands such as Charlotte’s Web have their own proprietary strains of hemp, bred to feature an exact profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Others like NuLeaf Naturals are highly selective about strains and farming practices. Brands might only source plants from certain locations offering the best soil and water quality, or farms that are certified organic.

The most basic level of plant quality owners should accept is plants that are cultivated within the US by farms that adhere to USDA guidelines. Imported hemp can be hard to trace, and may not contain sufficient levels of CBD and other active cannabis compounds.

4. (Real) owner reviews

Even though we feel confident in our review process, we can’t test out CBD products on multiple breeds and sizes of dogs over a realistic period.

Many owners use CBD as a long term supplement, with dogs gaining benefits over weeks, months, and years rather than in days. As a result, those who have tested products with their pups for longer periods have important information to bring to the table.

Finding lots of positive reviews is obviously a sign that owners are satisfied with a CBD product—but more than that—they suggest a product is widely and reliably effective, which is an indicator of batch consistency and quality control.

One note about reviews: we always lean towards reviews posted on impartial platforms like Google and Facebook. Reviews hosted on brand websites may be objective, but it’s hard to guarantee that they haven’t been curated, or worse, posted by fake owners.

5. Certification

To help create a regulated market without the input of the FDA or other federal bodies, CBD industry experts have come together to form certifying organizations.

When brands have a seal of approval from organizations like the NASC or the US Hemp Authority, it means that their production processes have been audited and meet current best practices for safety and quality.

Our two preferred certifying bodies are:

  • The NASC. The National Animal Supplement Council is a nonprofit industry group that formed in 2001 to provide oversight for all types of animal supplements. The NASC requires CBD products to be safe for dogs to consume and not contain false advertising.
  • US Hemp Authority. The US Hemp Authority is an industry-led initiative established in 2018 and is subscribed to by many leading CBD dog brands. Hemp farms, processing facilities, and brands need to undergo a thorough independent audit, including lab testing, to gain certification.

6. Dog-specific

Dogs and humans can both benefit from CBD, but our four-legged friends have their own set of specific needs when it comes to CBD oil for dog products.

Dogs thrive on hemp strains with a rich spectrum of secondary cannabinoids and less than 0.3 percent THC. They may also enjoy CBD infused with natural meat flavorings or products designed to blend with food.

If a brand’s product selection is focused on dogs rather than humans, it’s a signal that they understand these needs, and aren’t simply looking for a way to expand the market for their product.

Dog-specific oils generally contain different levels of CBD compared to humans. In our Innovet Pet review, for example, we found a wide variety of CBD strengths for different sizes of dogs. Other brands will develop products for certain ailments, which you can check out below:

Best CBD oil for dogs with Arthritis

Best CBD oil for dogs with Cancer

Best CBD oil for dogs with Anxiety

Best CBD oil for dogs with Seizures

7. A true backstory

The pet industry is notorious for using sleek marketing campaigns to cover up unsightly ingredients and nasty production processes.

This is a particular problem in the pet food sector, where so-called ‘family’ recipes with natural-looking branding are revealed to be manufactured with imported ingredients in huge facilities.

While the pet CBD industry is less affected by these kinds of misleading marketing campaigns, it’s unfortunately not immune. Consumers need to look for detail and be wary of any general claims about ‘small-batch production’ or ‘full spectrum extractions’ that aren’t backed up with evidence.

For example, if a brand advertises its CBD as full spectrum, then their certificate of analysis should show a range of other cannabis compounds besides CBD (including trace amounts of THC).

Likewise, if a brand says they ‘work closely with farmers,’ then they should be able to tell consumers lots of information about their partner farm and the farming practices used there.

8. Web-savvy

On the other end of the spectrum from the super-slick corporate CBD brands are those companies without a modern, customer-facing website—and they might also be ones to avoid.

While it’s still possible to find high-quality old-fashioned CBD brands that haven’t yet embraced the modern cannabis age, the majority of reputable suppliers now have a sophisticated online presence with all the design and e-commerce features today’s consumers expect.

A functioning website and contemporary brand image are great indications that a CBD brand is in things for the long haul.

9. Ingredient commitments

Not every CBD brand we recommend uses certified organic ingredients—but many do, and the rest incorporate other relevant certifications into their production process.

Commitments to certified hemp and organic carrier oils are signs that a brand is happy to invest more time and funds in creating quality products, keeping dogs’ health at the top of their agenda.

This is especially evident when it comes to CBD treats. While the benefits of organic vs non-organic carrier oil might be minimal, using whole food recipes to create CBD snacks significantly boosts their dietary benefits.

On the other hand, inflammatory ingredients like grains, filler ingredients, and artificial preservatives can feel contrary to the whole aim of CBD supplementation.

10. Owner incentives

CBD can be great to keep in the cupboard for treating acute issues such as skin irritations or fireworks night nerves.

But many owners also rely on CBD as a long term treatment for chronic canine disorders. These range from arthritis and joint degradation to separation anxiety, and even epilepsy. For these dogs, a reliable product is essential, with inconsistencies or gaps in batches significantly affecting quality of life.

One way to judge brand reliability is to look at their customer service track record, and whether they’re interested in rewarding customer loyalty. Signs of an owner-focused brand include no shipping costs, free trials for new users, and subscription discounts when owners sign up to receive products on a monthly basis.

and 11. (They’ve been reviewed by us)

At CBD Oil for Dogs, we spend hours pouring over these and other relevant factors to determine whether dogs will truly benefit from a CBD product.

Check out our latest CBD reviews to see which brands are worth your dog’s time.