When looking at CBD oils for sale, you’ll often see terms like “full-spectrum,” “isolate,” and “broad-spectrum.” The difference between these is what is contained in the product. This is determined by how CBD is extracted or processed.

Full-spectrum CBD describes all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and other compounds present in CBD oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil is extracted to retain other compounds and cannabinoids that are considered beneficial for an “entourage” effect. The “entourage” effect describes the impact of all the compounds in full-spectrum CBC oil on your dog’s endocannabinoid receptors in addition to just CBD by itself.

CBD Isolate is the most basic form of CBD, with no other cannabinoids or compounds present.


Full Spectrum CBD for DogsIsolate CBD for Dogs
Considerations:

  • Pricier than isolate products
  • May contains many cannabinoids, incl. THC
  • Entourage effect with use
  • Improved taste

Best for:

  • Dogs who do better with fewer doses over time
  • Dogs who are not allergic to other compounds contained in cannabis plants
  • Pet parents who want the least-processed product for their dog
  • Pet parents who want the entourage effect for their dog
Considerations:

  • Cheaper than full-spectrum CBD
  • Contains CBD only, no THC
  • No entourage effect
  • No flavor

Best for:

  • Dogs who don’t tolerate the taste of full-spectrum
  • Pet parents who want to add CBD to homemade treats
  • Pet parents who use CBD topical applications
  • Dogs who are sensitive to other compounds such as terpenes, traces of THC, and/or other cannabinoids
  • Pet parents seeking a more precise or higher dosage of CBD for specific health concerns


A rotational vaporizer being used for CBD oil extraction


Full Spectrum CBD

This is a product extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. The methods used to distill this product preserve most of the other cannabinoids in the plant. There are many strains of cannabis plants, and some of them yield higher levels of certain cannabinoids and compounds than others. Different combinations or patterns of the cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids are referred to as chemovars. Cannabis plants are bred and cultivated to yield different chemovars. Other factors such as the extraction process and the environments the plants are grown in can also determine the chemovar for that plant. A certificate of analysis (COA) will show the compounds and cannabinoids present in that product.

Full-spectrum might include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but a CBD oil sold for dogs should only have trace amounts of it. THC is the cannabinoid that causes the high or euphoria many people associate with cannabis. Any oil containing over 0.3% THC is considered marijuana. CBD oils must not contain THC levels higher than that amount. It is unlikely that your dog will experience adverse effects from a percentage of 0.3% THC or lower, but a CBD oil with no detectable levels of it is safest if you are concerned about marijuana toxicity.

Never buy a product that is labeled as “full-spectrum” without seeing a current COA for it to understand what’s in it. This term is often used to mislead consumers into buying a product with questionable ingredients.

Full-spectrum CBD is slow-acting, absorbing much little slower than isolate or broad-spectrum products, with about a 30-90 minute time frame for the product to take effect. It tends to remain in the bloodstream longer, up to 8 hours.

Not all dogs like the flavor or taste of CBD oil. There are many ways to offer it to your dog if he will not tolerate the oil, including capsules and treats. Just remember, dosing can be more difficult with treats that do not have exact percentages of CBD in them.


Isolate CBD

This is a product distilled to generate pure cannabidiol, and will have no other ingredients or cannabinoids. It comes in a crystal powder that is then mixed with carrier oils or incorporated into products. Cannabidiol (CBD) can be isolated from either a hemp or marijuana strain of cannabis plants or even created synthetically.

For humans, isolate CBD is the product to take to avoid a positive result on a marijuana drug test. For pet parents, it allows for fewer variables when gauging their dog’s response to CBD.

CBD isolate is cheaper to produce, and some companies use it in their products without disclosing this to consumers. Never purchase an isolate product from a company that is not involved in the entire process of growing the plants, extracting, and formulating products. The manufacturer should be able to identify the source of the isolate.

Isolate CBD will absorb much more quickly than full-spectrum, absorbing in about 5-20 minutes, and lasting up to 4 hours.

One of the biggest benefits of CBD isolate is less of a flavor. If your dog gags taking CBD oil in other forms, isolate may work better for him. Just be sure the carrier oil is also palatable to him.

Isolate CBD oil is also offered for dogs in treat form.

Synthetic cannabidiol is dangerous, and can be contaminated with dangerous chemicals. There is no standardization or regulation for the process. Avoid products that include synthetic forms of cannabidiol.


Broad Spectrum CBD

This product contains many cannabinoids and other cannabis-derived ingredients, but no THC. Broad spectrum CBD is formulated by creating a CBD isolate and then mixing back in cannabis components or by an extraction/distillation method that will remove THC completely. As with every other CBD product, you want to be sure you can see a recent COA to disclose what compounds and cannabis components are present.

Broad-spectrum CBD will absorb as quickly as isolate, within 5-20 minutes, and will last up to 6 hours in the bloodstream.


You may also come across products that are labeled CBD-rich, CBD-dominant, cannabis sativa seed oil, cannabis seed oil, etc. Any of these products should have a COA available for you to see what is in these products.

Products that refer to cannabis seed oil are hemp oil and unless used as a carrier oil, contain no CBD. For more information on the difference between the two, see our guide here.

Products that are waxes or resin typically contain high levels of THC and are not appropriate for your dog.