*Disclaimer: This is not meant to serve as a substitute for veterinary advice. We believe firmly in the contents of this article thanks to thorough research and our experiences with all of the dogs that we have helped through the years (including our own), but you should always defer to your veterinarian when adding anything to your dog's unique wellness routine.
If you’re using a CBD product for your dog and you’ve never looked at its lab work, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Lab work (AKA a Certificate of Analysis, or COA) can tell you everything you need to know about how effective and safe a product is. At first glance, COAs may seem overwhelming, but we’ll show you how you can easily read them to learn everything you need to know about the product in a matter of minutes.
Some companies are, unfortunately, known to make unsubstantiated claims about the contents of their product, hence you need to make sure you know what you’re giving your dog. If a company doesn’t readily provide an up-to-date COA with their company name on it for their products, that’s a huge red flag. Knowing this, we make sure that Dr.Hempdog’s latest lab work is always easily available at the bottom of our website.
We’ve broken this article down into two sections: the first section gives a quick rundown of the absolute basics of how to read lab work, and the second section shares a more advanced explanation of what you should be looking for in a COA.
Section 1: The Basics of What to Look For in a Great COA
To start, we’ll give you a quick rundown of the simple stuff to look for:
- Confirm whether or not the product contains any helpful cannabinoids beyond CBD. If it contains THC, that’s even better, but you need to be sure that the THC content is below 0.3% (making it safe for dogs).
- Check if any terpenes are in the product. A diverse terpene profile is not only a sign of superior extraction but is also able to provide potent medical benefits according to numerous studies.
- Look at the final pages of the COA to make sure that no toxic contaminants are present (i.e. pesticides, fungicides, solvents, heavy metals, etc.).
Once you know that the product is worth your time, you should also make sure that the COA:
- Is up-to-date/ recent
- Includes the product manufacturer’s actual name (not another company’s name)
- Is from a reputable third-party testing company
Section 2: A More Detailed Look at the Anatomy of a COA
The average COA can be broken down into these key sections:
- Information About the Company/ Product Being Certified
- Cannabinoid Profile
- *Terpene Profile
- *Contaminant Testing
*Some COAs may not have these sections if the company didn’t request these tests; however, they’re still extremely important.
Below, we’ll discuss each of these sections in more detail, using snippets from one of our COAs as a visual example (for our most up-to-date test results, check the bottom of our website).
Information About the Company/ Product Being Certified
This section typically contains basic clerical information, such as:
- The name of the company
- The name of the product or batch tested
- The name of the lab
- The date the test was performed
Make sure this information actually lines up with what you’re buying, since clerical errors (or worse, knowing deceit) do crop up from time to time. The date should also be recent (within the last six to twelve months at the absolute latest).
As an extra layer of protection, this section should also include information that you can use to independently verify the COA’s authenticity, such as a QR code or unique ID. You won’t usually need to actually authenticate the COA yourself, but the presence of such information helps to establish credibility.
You can use this section to identify what cannabinoids are present in what concentrations (or “ND” for Not Detected).
You should ensure that the product:
Contains THC, making it full-spectrum CBD (which is the most effective type of CBD product). The THC content should also be less than 0.3% THC, which is known to be a safe amount for dogs according to numerous studies, including one from 2020 which we've cited here.
- From Frontiers in Veterinary Science: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00505/full
- Includes a host of other supporting cannabinoids (for our product, these include CBDV, CBG, CBC, and CBDA), which you can learn more about in our article about lesser-known cannabinoids.
This section shows what terpenes the product contains in a very similar format to the cannabinoid profile. Since the precise value of each terpene isn’t as important as their overall presence, consulting accompanying graphs is often the most efficient way to get a good overview of the product.
As a quick refresher, terpenes are aromatic compounds that are known to enhance CBD products and provide notable benefits for inflammation, pain, and anxiety. CBD products with high-quality extraction tend to have more terpenes than others, making them more effective overall.
Despite how lengthy contaminant tests can seem, you only need to skim through two things to get a good idea of how safe the product is: the status column, and the actual tests performed.
Let’s start with the status (i.e. the far right column). As long as everything there is a PASS, “-,” N/A, or similar non-failing entry, it means that the compound tested either wasn’t detected or was found below toxicity thresholds, making the product safe.
The tests themselves often vary from company to company, but the more tests are present, the better. Tests should verify the absence of pesticides, heavy metals/ reactive elements, and other contaminants or solvents when necessary.
Our full-spectrum CBD oil’s COAs meet all of these guidelines and more, so if you’d like to learn how to use our product to help your dog with some of the conditions they may suffer from, we encourage you to reach out to us. You can schedule a free 15-minute consultation by visiting our website, contacting us at (720) 773-9595, or sending us an email at email@example.com.