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. 

 

COA Series: Heavy Metals

Every pet parent wants to make sure that they’re providing their companions with the best care possible. In our series about testing protocols and Certificates of Analysis (COAs), we are detailing the many steps we here at Canna Companion take to ensure that our products are safe and free from contamination. In this entry, we’ll be discussing heavy metals, and for your reference, here’s the list of tests run on ingredients and end products.

 

Heavy Metal Testing

Among the more common heavy metals associated with toxicity are lead, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. Exposure to these items can occur in a number of ways including air, soil, or water pollution, improperly applied coating on packaging or bowls, and contaminated foods or medicines. Heavy metal poisoning can take place via both acute and long term exposure, and while compounds like inorganic arsenic increasingly rare, exposure can still occur via ashes of treated lumber, for example. Metals like lead cause a variety of health issues include anemia, cancer, and seizures, while mercury exposure results in symptoms ranging from severe GI distress to eczema (in survivors or toxicity) to death. 

All species of the Cannabis genus are classified as phytoremediation plants, which means that they are particularly adept at pulling numerous types of contaminants, including heavy metals, out of the soil and storing them in plant material. Heavy metals persist within the environment, and during the normal processing of hemp plant biomass, these toxins are concentrated. The small size of our patients further exacerbates the hazard as a relatively safe amount to a human, becomes highly toxic in cats and dogs. While there are treatments available for heavy metal poisoning, they can be costly and are not 100% effective.  Thorough testing is an easy and highly accurate way to help prevent the problem in the first place.

While the FDA does provide action levels whereby companies must remain under certain testable levels of heavy metals, this does not include pet supplements.  Washington state does not require testing for heavy metals and, as a result, many of the state certified laboratories have been slow to include it as an option. Since a panel is available via our primary certified lab, we test all primary ingredients and end products for arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. We tolerate “None Detected” (ND) quantities of heavy metals in our finished products, and trace or ND in primary ingredients. Because one can never truly have ‘zero’ quantity, laboratories provide results as LOD (limit of detection) relative to LOQ (limit of quantitation). ND results ensure Canna Companion products have so little heavy metal content, it is not detectable with current technology.  

COA excerpt from Canna Companion Regular Strength capsules, batch 0919C01.

 

You may request a copy of a batch associated COA via our Customer Service department at any time. Rest assured that we are committed to keeping your pets safe and healthy.

 

COA Series: Pesticides

When shopping for food we’ll often note whether or not something is organically grown knowing that, among other things, this protects us from most pesticides. How many of us do the same when we are selecting items such as lotions, cosmetics, or supplements? When those supplements are for our pets, knowing whether or not they contain pesticides is critical. In this latest entry in our series about the testing that we do and what information you can find on a Certificate of Analysis, we’re discussing pesticides.

As a refresher, we test for the following:

 

Pesticide Testing

At all stages of our process (primary ingredients, pro-ingredients, and final products) we test for residual pesticides via a set panel performed by a certified state laboratory. Pesticides are obvious toxins, classified by their actions and levels of toxicity at various dosages. They can be introduced into hemp products via farming practices and extractor processes; a contaminated water supply is also a concern as it can allow highly toxic chemicals to travel long distances

This map shows estimated concentrations of atrazine in shallow groundwater beneath agricultural land. Atrazine use is one of the most important factors used to predict atrazine and deethylatrazine concentrations in groundwater (right). Within areas of high atrazine use, groundwater residence time, soil permeability, and other factors explain some of the differences in predicted concentrations. From USGS Circular 1360.

 

Often people think that if something is naturally derived, it is safer. This is not always the case. Pyrethrins, common pesticides derived from the chrysanthemum, can be extremely dangerous, even deadly to cats. Similarly, organic is not necessarily pesticide-free, though the opposite can be true. And to make it more complicated, no single laboratory can test for all possible pesticides, and one has to rely on regulatory agencies to ensure nothing toxic at low doses leaches through into the environment or test sample. Allowable levels in our and our pets’ water supply may not be safe when orally absorbed in a solid or oil-based liquid. 

If you combine this with the fact that when compounds like CBD are extracted from hemp, any pesticides used on the plant or within the water supply are then concentrated, it becomes very clear why this testing must be performed. A chemical that is safe for adult humans in tiny amounts, then concentrated and given to a child or pet who are much smaller could be extremely hazardous. Many pesticides can exacerbate existing health problems or even cause new ones. They can be carcinogenic, teratogenic, hepatotoxic, neurotoxic, nephrotoxic, and potentially disrupt hormones, the endocrine system, and the immune system. 

Most of the commonly used pesticides in the cannabis industry fall under Category 3, 4, or 5 WHO classification scheme. This means they “may be harmful,” are “harmful,” or are “toxic if swallowed,” based on dosages which caused harm in 50% of rat test subjects (LD50). Many of the chemicals do not have LD50’s for cats, dogs, or even humans. Others have veterinary-based applications and are commonly applied topically (ex. imidacloprid and pyrethrins/pyrethrins) or given orally (ex. spinosad) for flea control.

Because of the potential risk to cats and dogs of all sizes, we test multiple times to ensure that any residual pesticides are below the level we have determined to be safe, typically “none detected” (ND) or in trace amounts. Trace amounts to us means an estimated amount which is greater than the Lower Limit of Detection (LLOD)  but less than the LLOQ. The LLOD is the lowest amount that the method can detect and the LLOQ the lowest amount that the method can quantify. Our reasoning? Such levels are usually secondary to environmental contamination and is one reason we check local water testing results, cross-referencing them with Washington state cannabis testing parameters and our internal specifications.  

We believe in full transparency at Canna Companion and want you satisfied your pet is receiving the very best. You deserve to know what is, and is not, in our products before you give them to your pet. Contact us today for a copy of our batch-tracked Certificates of Analysis!

COA Series: Mycotoxins

Pets are important members of our families and we always want to ensure we’re giving them the very best. There are reviews, consumer reports, and more that we can look at to help us determine these things, but sometimes it’s just not enough information. Other times, that information is presented in a manner that isn’t readily accessible to the layperson. That is why we here at Canna Companion are breaking down the details of what can be found on a Certificate of Analysis and why those tests are important. 

In part two of our Certificate of Analysis (COA) Series, we detail mycotoxin testing. In our last article, we discussed the importance of Residual Solvent Analyses (RSA) in making sure chemical toxins leftover from cannabis compound extract processes are absent or well-below toxic levels for cats and dogs. One of those solvents, which is quite easy to remove from end products, is ethanol. Most ethanol on the market is made from corn, some of which comes from crops contaminated with mycotoxin producing organisms.

Canna Companion values the health of our patients above all else. Throughout this series, we provide insight into our testing procedures which often exceeds federal testing requirements to better protect the welfare of your pet. As a reminder, tests run on ingredients and final products include:

 

Mycotoxins, like aflatoxin and ochratoxin, are a group of natural, highly toxic byproducts of some Aspergillus and Penicillium fungi. These toxins develop when certain crops are improperly stored at temperature and humidity levels that perpetuate fungal growth. The risk increases with environmental stress to crops such as drought or insect damage, improper field management, and inappropriate handling. Crops known to be affected by fungal contamination include corn, peanuts, rice, soybeans, wheat, and oats. The organisms and their secondary metabolites, mycotoxins, are so ubiquitous that approximately 25% of the world’s food supply is contaminated, causing death in human and non-human animals.

Aflatoxins can be immunosuppressive and carcinogenic, damage the liver, cause anemia, and more, even at extremely low levels. They are fat soluble and easily absorbed from the GI tract of dogs and cats. A little over a decade ago, hundreds of dogs died from liver failure due to eating commercial dry dog food contaminated with aflatoxin.  Ochratoxin is less common, but just as deadly, also causing cancer and usually targeting the kidneys. There is very little which can be done once toxicity occurs, but fortunately a lot which can be done to prevent contamination in the first place. It all starts with testing.  

 

Why is mycotoxin testing vital?

Ethanol, CO2, and butane/propane are currently the most common extraction solvents utilized in the Cannabis industry. Ethanol is often made by fermenting corn. Mycotoxins, if present, survive the fermentation process. When this mycotoxin-contaminated ethanol is used in the processing of any Cannabis products the mycotoxin is transferred to them.

Unfortunately, most poor-quality, damaged, and improperly stored corn is diverted into ethanol production. While mycotoxins do survive fermentation and distillation processes, they should only be measurable in the solid co-products, not the liquid alcohol. Any ethanol product contaminated with mycotoxin is likely the result of improper distillation, filtration, and cleaning techniques. As a general rule, since human and pet food companies place large orders, they get to choose the quality of corn they purchase. They do not wittingly purchase contaminated grain.  Reputable companies make sure the corn they use meets or exceeds FDA action levels. 

Because mycotoxins are not concentrated in ethanol, it is acceptable to test for them only at the corn harvesting stage. Testing of ethanol is not required by any regulatory agency. Restrictions are, however, placed on acceptable quantities of mycotoxins found in the corn used to make grain alcohols. FDA Action Levels are as follows, based on intended use of the corn.

FDA Action Levels for Aflatoxins

Commodity Level (ppb)
Milk 0.5
All feedstuff other than corn 20
All products, except milk, designated for humans 20
Corn for immature animals & dairy cattle 20
Corn for breeding beef cattle, swine & mature poultry 100
Corn for finishing swine 200
Corn for finishing beef cattle 300
Cottonseed meal (as feed ingredient) 300

 

Cats and dogs are especially susceptible to the effects of mycotoxins, and while the lethal dose (>300 pbb) is far greater than what is allowed in non-milk products, severe illness can occur with chronic low dose exposure. That susceptibility is, in part, dependent upon factors such as genetics, age, hormonal and nutritional status, and concurrent disease. As a result, if a company making products for cats or dogs utilizes ethanol extracted or washed products in any ingredient, both that ingredient and the final product should be tested for aflta- and ochratoxins.  

To protect the health of your pet, Canna Companion requires all ingredients, pro-ingredients, and finished products have total mycotoxin levels limited to 0-19 ppb. We are medical professionals and understand the adverse medical implications these fungal-based contaminants pose for our patient population. We strive to provide products which are clean and consistent, relying on rigorous testing practices to help fulfill that objective.  

COA Series: Introduction & RSA

As pet parents, we are naturally concerned with ensuring that any product or supplement we give to our pets is safe for them. Often, however, we have very limited access to information about anything beyond the ingredients of a product. While reviewing ingredients is very important, it only gives us a snapshot of what a company does in order to help ensure our pets’ safety and can sometimes leave us wanting more information. To that end, we would like to offer you an idea of what kinds of tests we run during the manufacturing process at Canna Companion and how these help protect your pet. 

We send samples to local, third-party, state-certified, cannabis testing laboratories during multiple stages throughout our processes. Each sample is tested for a variety of chemicals to make sure no toxins are present and that compounds like CBD and THC are within product specifications. In our Certificate of Analysis (COA) Series, we will detail what those tests mean with regard to your pet, beginning with Residual Solvent Analysis (RSA). Our final article in this series reviews Canna Companion testing procedures on all primary and pro-ingredients as well as the final product.

Tests run on ingredients and final products include:

  • Residual Solvent Analysis 
  • Mycotoxin
  • Pesticides
  • Heavy Metals
  • Microbial
  • Potency & Terpenes 

 

Residual Solvent Analyses detect minute levels of hydrocarbon and non-hydrocarbon solvents used in the extraction processes of a wide variety of Cannabis products. Residual hydrocarbon solvents are potentially damaging to cardiac muscle in trace amounts. They can impart immunosuppressive and abnormal immunostimulatory effects in extremely small concentrations. Some compounds cause hepatic, renal, and neurotoxicity, and should be avoided in any patient population with these underlying pathologies or susceptibilities. Ethanol and its derivatives appear better tolerated, though can still pose health risks at higher quantities.  

Residual solvents are the byproducts of nearly all extraction processes. Even ‘solventless’ extractions, like CO2, can result in residual chemicals lingering in the final product. This is usually due to post-extraction ethanol washes designed to remove plant waxes. Several techniques can be used to remove solvents from end products; the most effective of these is vacuum extraction, set at temperatures specific to the solvent used. RSA are a critical element of cannabis testing simply to ensure any impurities are absent or well-below toxic levels for the intended species. A small amount of these solvents in a product for a human sized patient is probably not harmful and each state sets limits regarding what is acceptable based on their data and risk assessments.  

In our patient population, however, the concentration of these contaminants is important because of the size of the patient exposed. A small amount of solvent concentrated in a smaller patient can more readily impart adverse effects. Furthermore, many of the breakdown metabolites produced by the metabolism of hydrocarbons are toxic as well, meaning they continue to impart toxic effect and can reside in the system for an extended period. Ethanol can be effectively and completely removed from any material on which it is used, with minimal effort, and is better tolerated in trace amounts when compared to other hydrocarbon solvents.

 

To avoid the potential adverse events from residual hydrocarbons, it is best to only administer pet products which are CO2 and/or ethanol extracted from companies willing to provide batch-associated COA backing their claims.