How to understand third-party lab tests for pet CBD products

With the recent passage of the Farm Bill, CBD and hemp companies seem to be popping up everywhere. As a consumer, this is both exciting and confusing – with the increase in options also comes an increase in misleading marketing practices. With the lack of federal regulation of CBD products, the hemp industry has had to become self-regulating. 

The way that CBD and hemp companies can put their money where their mouth is, is through non-biased, independent third-party lab testing. This means that the CBD or hemp company sends samples of their products, usually for each batch made, to a third-party who works as a neutral source to run a panel of tests to discern what is actually in the product. 

Third-party lab testing is not required. However, if a company is not willing to test their products and provide that information to consumers, it should raise a red flag. On the flip side, if a CBD company is willing to be completely transparent about their products and their contents, it can be reassuring before you make a purchase.

Understanding lab results can not only clear up any confusion about the contents of a product but also give you a better understanding of what is actually going into your pet’s body. Labs are more than just one of our favorite breeds of dog — they are a way to keep the CBD industry honest and transparent. 

What does a third-party lab test for anyway?

It’s important to note that not all tests are the same. CBD companies pay an outside laboratory to run tests. Some companies only pay the lab to test for CBD content, and while that is great information to have, a full panel lab test is what you need to show you that the product is indeed a Full Spectrum Hemp product that contains not only CBD but other important cannabinoids like CBG, CBD, CBDA and trace amounts of THC.

Full panel lab tests provide information on as many cannabinoids present as possible, as well as other factors including the presence of pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. Without full panel third-party lab tests, companies could claim that any number of ingredients are in their products, while in reality the product may only contain a small portion of what they claim, or only CBD (isolate) which isn’t as effective.

Full spectrum CBD oil products have the advantage of containing many different cannabinoids and the potential for a wider effectiveness. A recent study indicated the entourage effects of a full spectrum hemp CBD oil were superior to an isolate in the effective treatment of most conditions and ailments.

What should you look for in a lab report?

Certain compounds should be present on every full panel lab report. The report should include either a chart or a key so that you can understand the measurements (for example, are the numbers measuring parts per mL? Parts per liter?). The compounds most commonly found in lab reports are: 

CBD – It may seem silly, but if a CBD company is not testing for actual CBD content, they may be hiding something. The report should indicate how much CBD is present in the sample, how large the sample, and should be easy for you to determine if the amount of CBD present is the same as the amount being claimed on the bottle. Not every lab report will convert mL to mg, which means you may have to do the conversion yourself, but the math should always be the same in the end. 

Excerpt from lab results for CALM 550 mg CBD Dog Health Dog tincture.

THC – Testing for THC is extremely important. Although hemp plants can legally only have .3 percent THC content or less, if you are purchasing a product, whether from hemp or marijuana, it is always good to verify THC content. Animals have many more CBD receptors, making them much more sensitive to THC. This means that only a very small amount is needed in pet products to maximize the full effectiveness of the CBD.

Excerpt from lab results for CALM 120 mg CBD Dog Health Cat tincture

CBG, CBN, CBDA, and other cannabinoids – Full spectrum hemp products should show several other cannabinoids present in the test results, proving that the product is truly full spectrum; this means that no cannabinoids have been purposefully removed during the extracting process. The amounts of the other cannabinoids may seem insignificant, but even in small doses they provide the desired entourage effect.

Excerpt from lab results for CBD Freeze Dried Chicken Treats from CBD Dog Health.

Microbes – Microbes are living organisms that can be found in a sample. You do NOT want your CBD product to contain microbes. The two common microbes to test for include E. Coli and Salmonella. If the report has trace amounts of either microbe, it can cause your pet to become ill. 

Excerpt from the lab test for 1100 mg HEAL Dog tincture from CBD Dog Health

Pesticides and Herbicides – Companies claiming to have all-natural, organic, and pesticide- or herbicide-free ingredients should have lab reports to prove their claims. While pesticides may show in trace amounts in all plants (due to trace amounts of pesticides in water or water runoff from other farms), the number of pesticides or herbicides present in each sample should be incredibly small. Any high numbers of pesticides or herbicides should raise a red flag, as many have been proven to act as endocrine disrupters. We do not use any chemical herbicides, fertilizers or chemicals, therefore our lab results show no trace of these harmful chemicals.

Chemical solvents – If a company uses CO2 extraction, they should not have chemical solvents in their products. Chemical solvents often found in CBD oils extracted through other methods often includes alcohol, formaldehyde, or butane (lighter fluid). These solvents often are carcinogenic (which means they can cause cancer) and are dangerous. Not all labs test for these solvents, but when available it can be helpful to note. 

How do you calculate if the claims match?

Every lab tests using different units of measurement. Some labs test for mg per mL, some test for parts per million, and some test for percentages. Before you can understand the lab results, it is important to locate on the results which unit of measurement the lab used, the amount of the product provided to the lab, and the sample size taken from that amount.

Most CBD companies will list a total number of mg of CBD per bottle, and per serving on their packaging. To start your comparison between the packaging and the lab results, locate the size of the product. For example, CBD Dog Health’s HEAL 1100 mg CBD oil for Dogs (see certificate below) comes in a 1-ounce bottle. This converts to about 29.5735 mL per bottle (roughly 30 servings), and roughly 28.3495 grams per bottle. The labeling claims 1100 mg of CBD per 1 fluid ounce.

According to HEAL’s third-party lab test, there are 38.96 mg of CBD per 1 gram. When you multiply this number by 28.3495 (the total number of grams in the bottle), you will find that HEAL contains 1104.47704 mg of CBD per bottle (which is even better!).

The same calculations can be done using mg per mL, by using the same method. Conversely, you can calculate the total CBD on your own first by taking the total amount of CBD claimed on the packaging per ounce, for example, 1100 mg of CBD in a 1 ounce bottle with 30 servings, each serving should contain about 36.67 mg of CBD, and compare that to the results on the lab certificate. Just be sure to convert the amount of fluid to mg, mL, or ounces depending on what the lab test used.

View an example CBD Dog Health third-party lab certificate

All of CBD Dog Health’s products undergo full panel third party lab testing, and all of our certificates are available to view or print directly from our website

For example, the lab certificate below is for HEAL 1100 mg CBD Oil for Dogs. You can see the number of cannabinoids and absence of pesticides in the sample from our most recent batch. Transparency is our goal, and through our third-party lab testing we are able to stand behind our claims. 

HEAL 1100 mg Certficiate of Analysis - 1.7.19

To understand more about how CBD oil works and to learn more about the endocannabinoid system, click here. To view all of CBD Dog Health’s third-party lab certificates, click here

About Angela Ardolino:

With over 25 years of experience caring for animals, Angela Ardolino is the founder and CEO of CBD Dog Health and House of Alchemy, LLC, a company dedicated to cultivating and processing the purest medical cannabis products, with the lowest environmental impact, for humans and pets. Ardolino is active in Women Grow and United for Care, and she holds a professional certification in Medical Cannabis for therapeutic use from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. Ardolino is the owner of Beautify the Beast, a grooming salon in the Tampa Bay Area. Ardolino is also the mother of three dogs, Nina, Odie, and Jolene, as well as 23 ducks, 19 chickens, 9 geese, 1 bunny and a pig at her rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm. For more information, visit