ECS Series: Neurological System

When CBD first became the buzz word, many had never heard of an endocannabinoid system (ECS), let alone how important it is for the normal development of the nervous system. And while the medical community has learned volumes regarding exactly how the ECS interacts with and modulates neurological tissues, passing that complex information to pet parents … well, it’s left folks scratching their heads. Today we’re going to simplify things so you have an understanding of just how important a healthy endocannabinoid system is to the well-being of your pet’s nervous system. 

Let’s start with what makes up a nervous system in cats and dogs. Hint: it’s the same cells, tissues, and organs which make up the nervous system in humans … just like the ECS. The nervous system is made up of two main parts based on location: central and peripheral. The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the brain and spinal cord, while the peripheral nervous system (PNS) encompasses all other parts of the body. 

Image from FourLeg.com

 

Central Nervous System

The brain has three main sections, each with its own special functions but not isolated from others. Cerebral tissues govern conscious decisions; the brainstem hosts nerve centers which oversee most of the critical life functions; and cerebellar input controls movement and balance. 

Within the cerebrum, nerve cells (neurons) transmit information via action potentials – electrical impulses which must meet a certain milli voltage threshold before messages jump to the next cell. Signalling for action potentials, whether initiation or cessation, is performed by neurotransmitters like endocannabinoids. If too low, no information is passed at all or is rerouted to nearby neurons which are capable of continuing the action potential. This happens all the time as part normal neurological functions. It can also occur after traumatic injuries, stroke, and other serious neurological imbalances. Sometimes those same imbalances can cause an action potential to be too high or continue too long, contributing to imbalances like seizures, insomnia and anxiety (runaway thoughts especially). 

The brainstem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Bodily functions like breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, and whether one is awake or sleepy. No, cats do not have a more developed brainstem which tells them to sleep 24/7; that’s their prey drive telling them to save as much energy as possible. When hunting, cats usually miss their targeted meal 7/10 times … that’s a lot of energy use and sleeping helps their body remain ever ready for an opportunistic chance to pounce. When balanced, the brainstem functions normally in the background, a part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Thankfully, imbalances are not common as they are often life-threatening. 

Cerebellar functions are markedly pronounced in cats when compared to dogs and humans. This is why they often land easily on their feet after catching birds, an adaptation that increases their chance of survival both from a meal perspective and in escaping injuries. It’s not foolproof and gravity affects us all when 10 stories high, so consider screening in balconies for safe outside time. When balanced, the cerebellum allows dogs and cats to navigate the world with more agility and us mere humans. When unbalanced, conditions like cerebellar hypoplasia occur, a congenital malformation in kittens whose mothers contracted certain viruses while pregnant. Despite the condition being permanent, CH cats often have very healthy long lives … and are adorable in their awkward playing

Frederico happily posing for the camera.

 

Spinal cord functions can best be described as a multilevel highway whereby certain information is transmitted in different anatomical locations. Like the brain, the spinal cord contains both white & gray matter, though the white matter of spinal cords is peripheral, whereas the brain’s white matter is centrally located. This makes sense when we consider white matter contains relatively few cell bodies and is composed mostly of long-range myelinated axons, a type of neuron which can speed electrical information across relatively long distances. 

In the spinal cord, peripheral white matter neurons are responsible for proprioception, the ability for dogs and cats to place their feet without conscious thought. Try this: with your dog standing quietly on solid ground, gently lift a front paw and place it furred sided down. Your dog will immediately turn it over so that his pads are ground-facing. A little deeper into the spinal cord’s white matter we find motor skill neuronal transmission. Simply put, information on this level allows your cat to make those amazing leaps straight up to catch birds, bugs and feather toys. The next level allows the body to recognize and respond to mild sensory stimuli, allowing dogs and cats to avoid thorny ground and similar pinprick like sensations.The deepest layer of spinal cord white matter transmits deep pain, that which really hurts, like traumatic injuries or severe soft tissue damage. Centrally located, spinal cord gray matter is the workhorse, transmitting all kinds of data between the body and brain.

From Today’s Veterinary Practice

Peripheral Nervous System

Neurons found within the PNS transmit both sensory and motor input, much like neurons do in the CNS. In this case, motor information directs muscle movement in tissues like the heart, intestines and skeletal muscles. Sensory input helps determine things like when to stop eating (stretch receptors in the stomach), when to use the litter box (stretch receptors within the bladder), and when to roll over during solar charging (temperature sensors within the skin). While it’s the CNS which tells the body to perform these tasks, it is the PNS which informs the brain of the stimuli, and the spinal cord which carries the information. The PNS is highly flexible and imbalance in any one area can often be compensated for elsewhere. For example, if your dog sustained an injury which severed a peripheral nerve in his paw, he may have areas of insensitivity … but nearby sensory and motor nerves are likely to take over allowing for a normal gait. 

 

Endocannabinoid-Neurological System

No, there’s not actually a system named that but the integration is so deep that it might as well be called such. Endocannabinoids and their plant-based counterparts (phytocannabinoids) like CBD, function as neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and immunomodulators. In addition, the entire ECS integrates with a variety of other receptor systems, modulating their functions in order to maintain healthful homeostasis. Other neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, glutamate & gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are directly or indirectly modulated by the ECS. While this process is complex, the effects can be simplistic and drastic. 

 

Via influx of compounds like CBD & THC, cannabis receptors are able to calm action potentials attributed to imbalances within any tissue containing neurons. In other words, all tissues within the body are modulated by the ECS. This means a healthy, well-supported ECS is able to quickly cause peripheral vasodilation, bronchodilation and release of compounds which are soothing, all during times of anxiety. In addition, balanced cannabis receptors are vital in helping the brain’s action potentials remain healthy, working with the body when action potentials become too great. In order to help them remain balanced, supplementation with ratioed hemp supplementation is important as CBD only products only address a part of the complex system. 

I know we’ve covered a lot today, but I hope you are left with a better understanding of the nervous system and how the ECS supports its normal functions. Furthermore, providing the ECS with balanced compounds it can use wherever chemical messengers signal, can help your pet remain in top shape for years to come. We’ll see you next time when we discuss the ECS and behavioral responses. 

 

ECS Series: GI Tract & Immune Support

Trust is no small thing and it’s sometimes hard to know who to trust when it comes to your pets’ health care. Your dog is a member of your family, and your cat allows you to be a member of hers. As family members, our cats and dogs hold special places in our lives, so we want to be extra careful when choosing supplement companies. We are humbled to have your trust that Canna Companion products are grounded in science and made with love, providing the best hemp pet supplement for your family member. 

Today we’re continuing our discussion on how the endocannabinoid system (ECS) helps the body remain balanced, specifically within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and immune system. Did you know 70% of the immune system is found in the GI tract, and that the ECS is integral to the normal development of GI tract motility? In addition, the balance the ECS always strives for has significant homeostatic effects on the immune system. Supporting the normal functions of that system with hemp supplements, a healthy diet and regular exercise, ensures your pet remains balanced and happy. 

The Immune System

The immune system, like the endocannabinoid system, is quite complex in action, yet simplistic in function. And like the ECS, the immune system functions relatively the same between species. Immune systems aim to protect the body from all things and do this by incorporating three key types of immunity: physical barriers (skin, mucous membranes), innate immunity (certain white blood cells and their responses which are present at birth) and adaptive immunity (responses based on exposure to threats, whether perceived or real). They enlist the help of chemical messengers (interleukins), entire cell lines (immunoglobulins, white blood cells), and organs (spleen, thymus, GI tract) in order to protect the body from harm. When harm does occur, these same helpers go into overdrive, helping the body return to a healthful homeostasis.  

Adaptive immunity is perhaps the most familiar aspect of the immune system as it deals with microbial exposure, which triggers a cascade of cellular events starting with chemical messenger release and culminating in memory cell formation. Interleukins alert the body that an invader is present, while memory cells help the body mount an appropriate immune response should exposure occur in the future. It is during this process that antibodies are made, either via vaccination or actual exposure to microbes.

When balanced, this system may produce mild fevers and malaise as the body defends itself with adaptive immune responses, a very active process. If unbalanced, responses from initial or subsequent exposure can be inappropriate relative to the inciting factor. Allergic responses are an example of an unbalanced state, whereas mild fevers in kittens during their first exposure to common upper respiratory tract viruses indicate a balanced healthy immune response. 

Innate immunity is essentially the inflammatory responses which help the body repair minor damage like bruising and lacerations, and their associated mild/superficial infections. Inflammation ensures delivery of white blood cells specializing in eating or otherwise destroying invaders and dead tissues. When your puppy barrels around the corner, playing chase with your human child, and catches his hip on the hallway corner, innate immunity immediately goes into effect. Interleukins again alert the body something is awry and the acute inflammatory cascade is triggered, bringing white blood cells which can repair the damaged tissue. The process is clearly visible in the form of a large bruise which fades over time. This too can become unbalanced though there are often a variety of causative factors which result in runaway inflammation (and are beyond the scope of this discussion).

Physical barriers are arguably the most important aspect of the immune system as they are the first line of defense. They are also the largest aspect of the immune system covering the body inside and out. Externally our pets rely on fur and skin, and even ocular tissues like the cornea, to physically protect deeper, more delicate tissues. Internally mucous membranes cover all non-furred areas, offering both a physical layer and an antibody rich liquid covering (mucus) which sheds potential invaders while bathing them in defensive cells.

In addition, commensal microbes make up a large portion of physical barriers, greatly contributing to the overall immune system’s appropriate response. They challenge the immune system on a regular basis, keeping it on it’s toes and ready to respond to more aggressive threats. Lastly, commensal microbes compete for valuable housing space, preventing harmful organisms (pathogens) from colonizing and causing disease.   

 

Gastrointestinal Tract

It is both the liquid covering (mucosa) and commensal organisms (microbiota making up the microbiome) that greatly contribute to the immune system. But the gastrointestinal tract has a few more tricks up its sleeve which makes it the workhorse of the immune system: digestive enzymes which can be lethal to pathogens, extremely large surface area (more than the skin) and highly muscular “tubes” designed to expel toxins quickly (when needed). The GI tract begins in the oral cavity, extends into the stomach and small & large intestines, then into the rectum and finally anal tissues. Along the way, the neurological system is deeply involved, as are the spleen (reservoir for many immune cells) and the gallbladder and pancreas (digestive enzyme excreters). 

Tying It All Together

Now that we understand a bit about how the immune system works, and how the GI tract is included in that system, let’s bring things back around to the ECS. A healthy, normally functioning endocannabinoid system is necessary for the normal functions of the GI tract. It accomplishes this task primarily via modulation of nerves at various stages and junctions throughout the body, including mucosal cells and blood vessels. That modulation occurs via cytokines, chemical messengers like interleukins. 

We’ve learned that interleukins are involved in all aspects of the immune system, serving as an alert system that something is unbalanced, or signaling the all clear – balance is restored. The ECS is also listening to those same interleukins and responds via down or upregulation of cannabis receptors in those areas, whatever the body needs to maintain balance. It does this via alterations in intracellular and extracellular concentrations of compounds like CBD & THC at receptor sites. When in balance, receptors are better able to respond to interleukins and thus to the needs of the gastrointestinal tract and immune system. Supporting the endocannabinoid system with similarly balanced supplements, provides the body all it needs for healthful homeostasis. That support translates into more quality time with your favorite lap warmer or running enthusiast. 

Thank you again for placing your trust in Canna Companion. We continue our ECS Series with the neurological system, the foundation for all ECS actions.

Top Health Tips for Your Cat

Cats are often thought of as solitary animals and low maintenance pets. Those of you who share your lives with feline companions know, however, that they’re incredibly social and love to play and cuddle. This bond between cats and their people is extremely beneficial to both. Here are a number of ways that you can keep them protected and with you for a good, long time.

Nutrition
Unlike dogs, cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they need meat to survive. There are certain amino acids and other vitamins that they cannot produce on their own, such as taurine and arginine, without which they can lose their sight or even die. Other obligate carnivores include axolotls, salmon, and raptors. As a result of their need for meat, there are many benefits that can be provided by a raw diet. First, raw diets contain those precious organ meats that offer the things that they need the most. Second, raw diets tend to be processed less, which means fewer opportunities for contamination. Thirdly, raw diets do NOT contain the numerous fillers that traditional diets do, which can cause weight gain and a number of other health issues.

Entertainment and Exercise

Have you ever had a cat who scratched your carpet, paced incessantly, or destroyed furniture? They’re likely in need of activity. It’s important to make sure that there is plenty for your cat to do around the house so that they don’t direct their abundant energy elsewhere. Do you have plenty of appropriate scratching surfaces for them, both horizontal and vertical? If you find that your cat is turning their back on scratchers you’ve gotten for them, but still going after your favorite chair, it’s time to consider alternatives. The type of material makes a difference, too. Sisal, driftwood, carpet, cardboard, and more are available these days. Make sure they have plenty of options. 

Cats may sleep a lot, but they still need plenty of exercise. Food puzzles can be good options for cats who eat too fast or who are food motivated. Toys that they can wrestle with and kick are often hits. Automated or remote toys may be tempting if you are gone for a significant period of the day, but see if there is somewhere you can try them out with your cat before committing. Some cats will adore these, especially older cats who cannot get around as easily as they did when younger. Others will be afraid of the sounds they make and avoid them at all costs. There are so many options for ways your cat may entertain themselves and for ways for you to play with them. And an active cat is a happy, healthy cat.

Feline-Human Bond

No matter how often people say that cats are aloof and solitary, those of us who share our lives with them know better. Cats bond very closely with their people and both benefit as a result. People can provide cats with a healthy diet and plenty of activity while in an indoor environment that will keep cats (and local birds) safe and healthy for a lot longer. Meanwhile, the benefits of cats’ company to their humans are myriad. They reduce stress and risk of heart disease, they can actually make it less likely for your children to have allergies, they can help you sleep better, and they provide essential companionship. People integrate cats into all parts of their lives and the more we learn about them, the longer we can provide them with a good quality of life.

Bonus

Among the things that people and veterinarians are becoming more aware of are the potential beneficial impacts of certain essential oils on your cats’ health. Essential oils can be used safely in cats, helping provide another layer of immune system support (for wounds) and calming effect (for anxiety), among other health benefits.  Make sure to choose oil brands which source and extract responsibly, and where possible, contact a certified veterinary aromatherapist or holistic doctor comfortable in using essential oils.  Simple steps like placing 1 drop of lavender oil around wounds can assist in microbial control, or petting your cat with blends containing chamomile can provide soothing effects.   

And of course, we are now much more aware of the ways in which hemp can help support your pets’ health. A whole plant hemp product, such as Canna Companion, supports healthy digestion, neurological function, mobility, immune system function, and demeanor. While endocannabinoid systems support is usually not needed in kittens and young adults, mature and senior cats often have a more difficult time adjusting to their new forever home, and hemp can help reduce that temporary anxiety. Kittens and young adults may benefit during times of physical stress, like spay/neuter procedures and injury recovery. If you have any questions about which hemp product is best for your cat’s needs, feel free to contact us

cats

ECS Series: Joint Support

When it comes to the health of your pets, you want them to have the best food, medical care, toys, bed, treats, supplements … the best, period. We believe the only way for you to determine what exactly is ‘the best’ is through education. How can you choose from all the products on the market; which one is best for your beloved furry friend?

These questions are especially true when considering hemp supplements. In an exploding market during uncertain times, everyone seems to have an opinion, but those opinions, while well intended, may not be rooted in fact. In our Endocannabinoid System series, we’ll provide the facts about how hemp can support the body in a variety of ways, beginning with the system’s normal functions and how that relates to mobility during injury (short term support) and the normal aging process (long term support). 

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)

By now you’ve probably heard cats and dogs, like humans, have a receptor system which responds to cannabis administration, called the endocannabinoid system. That response can be positive (reduced anxiety during times of high stress) or negative (overdose of single compounds like CBD and THC), and the difference is sometimes a complex thing incorporating individual response, relationships between compounds, health status, route of administration, dose of compounds, and more. But at its core, the ECS is a simplistic receptor system whose sole purpose is to maintain healthful homeostasis within the body.  

Researchers have known for some time the ECS is integral to normal development of nervous tissues from embryo to adulthood, and it performs such actions via DNA-directed chemical release at key times during cell differentiation, division and migration. In short, genes signal protein development within cells, essentially waiving chemical ‘flags’ in front of cannabis receptors to get their attention. Depending on the type of flag being waived, the cannabis receptor responds in a number of ways, all with the express goal of normalising that one cell. Applied all over the body, the ECS helps the body develop a normally functioning nervous system, including nerves which integrate with muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joint tissues. 

 

The Normal Joint

Joints develop during embryonic stages and continue until physical maturity, about 2 yrs of age for most cats and dogs. The structure of joints is made up of a variety of tissues including bone, cartilage, joint fluid, ligaments, tendons, and the connective and muscular tissues surrounding them. Each tissue has specific uses and limitations. For example, ligaments are designed to be somewhat flexible for normal range of motion, but are limited in that capacity so they can support the heavy bones on either side of the joint capsule. Inside the protective joint capsule are compounds (synovia) and tissues (cartilage) which provide lubrication for normal range of motion. Via the same chemical messaging system as above, the ECS helps direct and is directed by the cells within these tissues so that joints grow and develop normally, including changes found in healthy senior dogs and cats. 

The Normal Senior Joint

Nothing can stop the aging process, but having an understanding of what’s going on can allow you to better support your pets’ aging joints, allowing your older cat or dog to maintain healthy range of motion during all stages of life. Normal daily activities, which differ greatly among species, place stress on all aspects of the joint. Twisting motions of chasing agile prey (toys) test the limits of ligament flexibility, and jumping onto / off of surfaces places significant impact on bones, cartilage and joint fluid. Over time, and as genes are less able to instruct bodily repairs, ligaments become less flexible, cartilage thins and joint fluid lessens, making the joint overall less mobile. Does this mean no more feather toys for your small lioness or that you should forgo agility classes for your Border Collie? Definitely not! The benefits of gentle and sustained exercise over a lifetime far outweigh any negative impacts on aging joints; this is especially true when combined with a healthy diet and ideal body condition score

 

The ECS & Normal Aging Joints

Let’s recap what we’ve learned today: the ECS is vital to normal development; the ECS responds to the body via chemical signals; normal joints have tissues supporting flexibility and strength; and older joints have less flexibility and less cushioning ability during impact. In order to respond to the body’s ever-changing needs, the ECS must remain highly adaptable and has developed the ability to make and activate receptors within a short period of time (< 72 hr in most cases). Up/down regulation is not a new concept in veterinary medicine as many receptor systems do this. However, what is especially adaptive regarding the ECS is its ability to up and down regulate using both internal signaling and externally administered compounds. 

We know there are cannabis receptors within joint tissues, not just from current research, but from a developmental perspective as well. Because the ECS is required for normal nervous tissue, and nerves integrate with other tissues like bones, ligaments, muscles, and tendons, there must be cannabis receptors within those tissues. Receptors listen and respond to chemical signaling from cells found within and around joints, helping it maintain normal flexion and extension motions. Whenever an imbalance is found within the joint, like a temporary knee sprain, the ECS will upregulate receptors until balance is restored, then downregulate so it doesn’t waste resources. Long term, however, the ECS simply cannot keep up with upregulation signals without external support. 

It’s all about balance.

Supplements providing multiple compounds from which the ECS can choose, are often more beneficial than single only ones. This is due to the complex nature of the ECS and how it serves as a homeostatic receptor system in the body. Simply put, its job is to maintain balance, and it cannot do so unless it too is balanced. In this case, cannabis receptors appear balanced when the primary endocannabinoids (anandamide & 2-AG) or their external phytocannabinoid counterparts (THC & CBD), are also in balance.  Currently it appears ratios of 1:1 – 10:1 provide the ECS with compounds which allow maintenance of normal functions without unbalancing itself. Furthermore, because we want to avoid dysphoria (“high” from THC) and liver value elevation (from excess CBD), ratios CBD:THC 3:1-7:1 are preferable in cats and dogs. Using small amounts of both compounds also allows for lower doses, lessening the risk of minor adverse effects like mild sedation and soft stool. 

How does this apply to long term ECS support and normal aging joints? If we want to offer the best support possible so that it can better maintain joint homeostasis, we need to provide compounds in ratios and amounts the ECS can use without unbalancing itself. Signaling from normal older joints occurs more frequently and with more “oomph” than in normal adult joints, putting more strain on the ECS internal reserves. Less flexible ligaments send signals indicating a less balanced state and the ECS responds, encouraging more normal joint mobility as a result. The same happens with worn cartilage and the signals it sends out, and with all other joint-related tissues. When you administer a low dose, multicompound, CBD-rich external source of phytocannabinoids, the ECS can more quickly respond to joints, and you can rest assured your beloved senior friend can chase her prey and run his trial in comfort for a bit longer. 

 

We look forward to continuing your ECS education in our next segment: GI Tract and Immune System Support.

Pet Guardianship Responsibility

When I was in college, I called my roommate one day to let her know I was on my way back from my weekend visit at home and to ask her to pick up some kitten food. “We have cat food,” she replied. I repeated my request and she said, “What have you done?” What I had done was to pick up a kitten out of a feral colony that lived in the neighborhood. She was from a litter of only two, her sibling had died, and her mom was sick. I was sure I could handle this. There are a lot of things that you should consider before adding a new animal to your household. I considered precisely none of these when I first brought Foxfire home.

Over a decade later, when I brought Tori home, it was after over a year of research into whether I was able to provide a household appropriate for her needs. Among the things that I learned during that time was the fact that the most common reason corgis are surrendered to shelters is behavior. People often get corgis because they’re cute and they give no thought to the fact that they are high energy, stubborn, herding dogs. When things don’t work out, everyone is unhappy, including the animal who is frequently surrendered or rehomed. Today we’re going to discuss some of the many things that you should look into and prepare for before you welcome a new pet into your life.

Tori modeled for our Extra Strength Medium Dog packaging.

 

Different animals have vastly different needs, but they all need veterinary care. If you already have animals in your house, consider speaking to the veterinarian you take them to for information on introducing a new pet to the household, but also what type of pet might fit well with the ones you already have. If not, ask any friends or family in the area who they take their pets to. Find out if they are taking new patients, then schedule a tour to get a feel for the place and people. Make sure that you consider how you will pay for the veterinary care for your new addition. Veterinary insurance is widely available with many different types of plans that can help you cover costs. Consider setting up a savings account to pay for any routine care, accidents, or illness.

Cats and dogs have social needs. If you aren’t at home for long stretches of time, it’s important to ensure those are met. Many places have daycare for dogs where there is a controlled environment for them to interact with other dogs. This will also help with their need for exercise. If you are getting a cat and don’t already have other animals at home, consider adopting two together so that they have a companion. Tech is also providing us with a growing number of ways to interact with our animals even when we are away. Cameras allow you to watch your pets, but now some of them also allow you to speak with them, offer them treats, or even activate toys with play routines that actively learn what your pet’s preferences are.

Another critical thing to consider is what temperament you are looking for in a companion animal. If you want someone to keep you company while you’re reading all day long, consider adding an older cat or dog to your household. Whereas, if you’re looking for a running buddy, a puppy and a high energy breed might make more sense. And be sure to check with their veterinarian about how to safely train a dog to run with you. If you have children, you may want to avoid herders, since they can have a tendency to nip. There are so many different pets who need homes, ensure that you’re getting one who fits with the pace and style of yours.

Chihuahuas like Allie Lou prefer plenty of warm place to snuggle.

The floorplan of your home, the amount of time you have available, and even the local weather are all things that you need to take into account. Food, exercise, access to litter boxes or yards, all of these are things that you should take the time to review before bringing a new pet home. Some breeds don’t tolerate cold climates well and will need sweaters and warming beds. Some have high grooming needs and will require a lot of time, money, or both to keep them comfortable. If you have your heart set on a specific breed, talk to other people who own them (either in person or online) and see what it’s like. And take that information into account when deciding if they are, in fact, a good fit for your life.

 

Animals enrich our lives in so many ways. We owe it to them to consider their needs and whether we are prepared to meet them before we make the decision to bring them home. Doing this research in advance can ensure that you and your companion have a long, healthy, happy time together.

Monty, a Belgian Malinois, is happiest after a long day on the trail.

Lilies and Cats

 

Please note a faux lily plant was used for this photograph.

The beginning of Spring just arrived and with it comes a significant hazard for our feline friends: Lilies. While there are plenty of plants which are toxic to cats, we often find that many people are unaware lilies are among them. Beyond that, they don’t just cause simple GI upset like some plants might. Lilies can be deadly to cats.

It is important to know that, for the purposes of this, we are discussing specifically the members of the Lilium family. There are many plants which are called lily without falling into that classification. Some of these, such as the peace lily or calla lily, are still toxic but usually with less severe effects often limited to drooling & GI upset. Others, such as the canna lily or plantain lily (hosta), are non-toxic. 

Pictured below: Lilium (true lily), Peace lily, Calla lily, Canna lily & Plantain lily.

 

Ingestion of true lilies can cause renal failure in a cat and even result in death; as little as a few grains of pollen have been seen to cause this effect. For many plants, we know the toxic compounds that cause whatever the resulting symptoms are. With lilies, however, the specific substance is unknown. Additionally, many plants only produce toxins in specific parts of the plant; true lilies produce their toxic principle in all parts, from the roots and bulbs to the petals and leaves. This is true even in minuscule amounts. 

Example of true lily belonging to genus Lilium. Not safe for cats.

Should your cat get into true lilies, it is important that you contact your veterinarian or local emergency veterinary hospital and get your pet treated immediately. Lily ingestion is absolutely an emergency and should be treated as such; do not wait until the next morning. If aggressive IV fluids are administered within a few hours of ingestion, the kidneys can sometimes be spared. The combination of an extremely low toxic “dose” and the severity of the resultant toxicity mean that we always advise not having lilies in any household where there are cats, including those which are less or non-toxic.

 

That’s the best way to keep your feline friends safe.

COA Series: Canna Companion Testing SOP

In our previous articles we discussed the importance of some of the tests that we run during our manufacturing process. Today, we hope to give you a clear view of just how seriously we take your pet’s health by giving you a view of the frequency at which we perform these tests, as well as describing what some of the other tests cover. As always, we want you to feel safe and confident in choosing Canna Companion for your beloved pets. 

There are several stages during our process at which we test our ingredients. For these purposes, the stages we are discussing are as follows: Primary ingredients, Pro-ingredients and Final Products.  We release the COA for our Final Products, but due to proprietary concerns, the Primary and Pro-ingredients COAs are only for internal use. 

 

Primary Ingredients

This category encompasses all materials in a form which can either be utilized as received or must undergo varying processing modalities before moving into the category of Pro-ingredients. Upon admittance into the facility, primary ingredients are stored in our quarantine area and not released until satisfactory results on the following tests are received. If any material fails any one test, it is never put into production and new ingredients are ordered. Failed ingredients are disposed of per individual requirements. 

  • Residual Solvent Analysis (RSA) – We do not use any primary ingredients manufactured with hydrocarbons, such as butane, naphthalene, hexane, or pentane. We use products derived from CO2 extraction. Ethanol is often used as a wash to remove excess plant waxes, but we ensure the ethanol is either eliminated or well below our medically derived cut-off level in this ingredient category. This is a contractual requirement from our vendors before shipment.
  • Mycotoxin – This is a fungal toxin which develops in improperly stored and handled corn and other crops, and can potentially enter the ingredient chain via contaminated ethanol. Similar to residual solvents, suppliers are contractually obligated to provide mycotoxin levels which are below 20 ppb. This means once a primary ingredient is processed, final mycotoxin levels are even lower or undetectable. 
  • Pesticides – We test for residual pesticides. It is a set panel offered by our certified state laboratory. Only a test result of “ND” (none detected) is acceptable for internal specifications. 
  • Heavy Metals – We have been testing our primary ingredients for heavy metals as soon as our third-party laboratory began offering it (about 1 yr ago). Washington state does not require heavy metal testing on all products, and state certified testing laboratories where slow to adopt as a result. Now that it is offered at our primary certified laboratory, the panel will be run on all product categories.
  • Microbial – We test for the most common pathogens for our patient population, including E. coli & Salmonella as well as for Enterobacter species. E. coli & Salmonella must test negative. Enterobacter concentrations are allowed in trace amounts as standard tests do not differentiate between pathogenic (disease-causing) and non-pathogenic (commensal, non-disease producing) organisms. If concerned, we send a product sample to bacterial identification and proceed from there.  
  • Potency & terpene – These tests determine the overall concentrations of detectable phytocannabinoids and terpenes. We maintain strict ratios between cannabinoids and require terpene contents to remain within specified ranges. Neither test is 100% accurate and some variation is anticipated. That said, we ensure THC levels are <0.3%, individual and total terpene levels are within appropriate physiological ranges (likely to assist the ECS and unlikely to do harm) and all values are consistent with internal calculations. 

Pro-Ingredients

These are ingredients that we manufacture in-house. They are made from Primary ingredients and are the products of several multistage processes. These intermediary products, when finished, are ready to be used for final production. At this step, we retest everything as above, making sure a contaminant didn’t get into the production line or that human error is caught before final products are ready for your pet. If any material fails any one of the following tests, follow up tests are performed; if an ingredient fails follow up testing, it is destroyed. All ingredients awaiting test results are kept in quarantine to ensure the production stream remains clean. 

Final Products

These are the finished products, which are sold to clients. At this step, we perform one more round of testing and treat the same as primary and pro ingredients: if it fails initial testing, additional tests are run; if it doesn’t pass, then the product is destroyed. 

 

What Do These Tests Mean?

As you can see, we take your pet’s safety very seriously, repeating tests at multiple stages to ensure that no contaminants are present to begin with nor are introduced in the manufacturing process. Several of these tests are not required by any regulatory agency. We want to ensure that we provide you with nothing but the very best.

What is it, though, that all of these tests cover? Besides the obvious – making sure ingredients and final products are free of harmful chemicals for your pet – results help us maintain Good Manufacturing Practices. Our employees are proud to hold WA State Food Safety cards, and work hard to ensure a clean and safe manufacturing environment. We share test results with them so they have proof all their efforts pay off. Everyone at Canna Companion is committed to producing high quality products with your pets in mind.   

 

We hope this gives you a better insight into the precautions that we take in order to ensure that we are providing you with the safest possible product. In the future, we intend to cover what constitutes a true whole plant or full spectrum product versus a single only or near full spectrum product.

COA Series: Potency & Terpenes

Our primary goal, here at Canna Companion, is your pet’s wellness. As you’ve been able to see, we do a lot of testing to ensure everything we make is safe for your furry family member. Along with the many possible contaminants, we also test for potency and terpenes to make sure your pet’s endocannabinoid system will be well supported by our products. In our penultimate article of this series on Certificates of Analysis (COAs), we cover this final set of testing performed on all of our products. As a reminder, the other tests we run include the following:

This last set of tests covers many different compounds. For our purposes, though, we are going to focus on the cannabinoids CBD & THC, and overall terpene content. There are a number of reasons we test for these things; most importantly, we want to ensure that the makeup of our products is appropriate to provide the support that we promise. Knowing the amount of CBD, ratio of CBD to THC, and the terpene content are all important in making sure that our products are aligned with recommended administration guidelines. This way we can demonstrate that your pet’s endocannabinoid system is receiving compounds for optimum support.

Testing for such compounds is not straight forward as there are problems within the cannabis testing industry. While HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) is the preferred method for potency & GC (gas-chromatography) ideal for terpenes, significant variation occurs between testing facilities. During our many years in business, we have developed several different ways in which we limit such variation:

  • Routine testing through our primary cannabis testing laboratory
  • Comparison of test results with formulation calculations dating back more than a decade 
  • Quarterly ring tests with secondary and tertiary testing facilities 
  • Retesting of any sample whose initial test results fall outside of standard deviation

In addition to making sure our products remain consistent and within internal specifications, these tests are important to demonstrate regulatory compliance. All of our CBD is derived from hemp, in accordance with federal law. THC content must be below 0.3% and we verify this, maintaining extensive records. You can feel confident knowing that our products are legal in all 50 states. (For more information regarding hemp cultivation legislation, click here.)

 

In our next article, we’ll be wrapping up this series with information on what tests we perform on which ingredients at different stages during our manufacturing process. We want you to feel completely confident in your choice of Canna Companion. If, at any time, you would like to see a copy of our COA, you may do so by contacting Customer Service.

 

 

COA Series: Microbial

Our furry companions make our families whole, so we always want to ensure we’re providing them with the best care available. It can be challenging to analyze whether a product is a good choice, though. Where was it made? What with? How do they ensure safety? That’s why we’re going over Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to show you what information can be found on them. This gives you another tool with which to protect your pet. In this entry in the series, we’ll be discussing microbials. As a reminder, the tests that we do at multiple stages in our manufacturing process are as follows:

Why do we run several sets of tests? It would certainly be less costly to simply test the ingredients, after all. As we’ve discussed previously, current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) establish baseline standards and ensure that the potential for contamination is minimized. When we test during different stages, this allows us to analyze whether all these practices are working as intended. This also assures you that you’re getting the very best for your animal companion.

The microbes tested for in Canna Companion products belong to the enterobacteriaceae family. These are gram negative bacteria which reside in the intestines of animals and can readily be found within the environment.. Many of them are a part of the normal gut flora of animals, but there are also a number of familiar, disease-causing strains including Escherichia coli and Salmonella

As you are likely aware, these coliform bacteria can cause both gastro-intestinal and extra-intestinal infections in cats, dogs, and people. Most of these are presence/absence tests where any detection in a sample means failure. Because of the potential human health risk, E. coli and Salmonella quantities must remain below detectable levels. Other members of the enterobacteriaceae family are non-pathogenic or low grade opportunistic bacteria. This means they are either not known to cause disease, or may do so under the right circumstances and levels. These bacteria are commonly found within the GI tracts of healthy dogs and cats

 

The health and wellbeing of your animals is our primary purpose. We want to ensure you have the knowledge and tools to protect them no matter what food or supplement you are considering for them. If you have questions or if there are parts of the industry you would like to know more about, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We may cover your topic in a future post.

 

Tips to Keep Your Pet Safe During Football Parties

The biggest football game of the year is approaching quickly and perhaps you, like many others are hosting a party to watch the big game. You may be looking forward to friends, food, drinks and football, but your dog, cat or parrot may have a very different perspective when it comes to the festivities. New people, noises and smells can be very exciting, but for some it’s  overwhelming. Pet parents need to be aware there are a few things about a sports event party that are downright dangerous for our pets. Here are a few tips from Canna Companion that will help your pet during the big game.

 

Cheering and Shouting Plus Pets Don’t Mix – You and your friends love cheering for your team loudly and enthusiastically. Keep in mind that this out of the ordinary sound level and intensity might result in your pet becoming over stressed. Situational anxiety is a real thing for our furry and feathered friends, and it can be scary for your pet and even dangerous for your guests. Some pets might try to hide in or under something, pace, hypersalivate (drool) or in extreme situations try to escape the house unsafely or engage in other harmful behaviors. They may act fearfully, bark, or snap at strangers who try to approach.

The best thing to help your dog through these types of situational anxiety triggers is to be prepared in advance. There are a number of supplements offered by Canna Companion that have a calming effect on the mind when situational anxieties arise. One tip that is assured to help them remain calmer: let your pet have their own space, behind closed doors, with plenty of comforting bedding. Leave soft music on to help distract them from party goer cheers. 

 

Sporting Event Snack Foods Should be Kept Out of Reach – Some of the common appetizers at a sports event party are potentially dangerous for dogs. If your pet happens to be social, they may prefer to hang with the crowd. However, make sure to keep food off lowered tables and out of your dog’s reach. Advise your guests not to feed your pet, no matter how cute they are or funny things they say.

  •  Chicken wings have harmful bones that can splinter and wreak havoc on a dog or cat’s intestinal tract or get stuck in the throat, causing them to choke. 
  • Onions, garlic, and chives can cause upset digestive systems and damage red blood cells, especially  in cats. Make sure dips are out of reach or kept in covered containers.
  • Salt found on chips and pretzels causes excessive urination and thirst. Most of these snacks are also carbohydrate heavy and inappropriate for dogs and cats
  • Dark chocolate is especially toxic and can cause GI upset and restlessness and death in severe cases.
  • Cheese and other dairy products can lead to upset stomach and diarrhea, as most pets lack the enzymes to break down lactose. If you offer any diary treats, limit it to 1 per party and make the portion size small (~1 tsp).

 

Watch the Alcohol and Caffeine – Alcohol is toxic for pets. It can cause any number of problems including vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, loss of coordination, abnormal blood acidity, coma, or even death. Caffeine from soda, iced tea, or coffee can be just as bad. It can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, seizure, or death. Keep the drinks in hand and away from all pets, and if your dog, cat or bird likes to investigate “empty” cups, best to leave them in their own room until after the party.

 

Secure Your Trash –  It might make sense to leave a trash bin in an open space so your guests can find it quickly, but if your guests can get to it easily, so can your pet. Getting at the paper plates or plastic cups that have no food on them can cause indigestion, choking or obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to an emergency veterinary visit. So, it’s best to keep the garbage in a secure place and out of reach of your pet. If you do leave the trash can out, make sure it’s a secure one even the craftiest critter cannot get into.

 

Watch Out for Clumsy Drinkers – There’s nothing wrong with having a few adult beverages. It’s a party, after all. But people who have had a few drinks tend to be a little more touchy-feely, especially if there’s a cute pet running around. The lack of coordination and reduction in motor skills can also lead people to be clumsy, and they might not be able to react in time if a dog suddenly appears in their path. Tripping, stumbling party guests can lead to injuries for pets and humans alike.

Keep an eye on your pets. If your pets seem to be having difficulty settling down or are trying to eat foods available, it may be best to secure them in a different room or kennel, if that is a known safe place for your pet. Contact us for additional tips so you and your friends can enjoy the game, and your pets enjoy some R&R.