According to a report from Zion Market Research, the market for pet food and treats is expected to exceed $30 billion by 2022. While CBD pet food products currently comprise just a tiny fraction of total sales, they’re expected to be one of the fastest-growing categories, with analytics firm New Frontier Data estimating that the market for such products will be worth over $125 million by 2022, up from just $17 million in 2017.
The trend has attracted attention from some of the biggest names in the worlds of both cannabis and pets. In 2019, Canopy Growth, the biggest cannabis company in the world, and Martha Stewart began working together on a line of pet products infused with hemp-derived CBD. Nestlé, which owns Purina (the second-largest global manufacturer of pet food), is also considering a CBD-infused line of pet products, according to a report from Bloomberg.
If and when that happens, they’re expected to “take over major retail channels,” as Jamie Schau, a CBD research manager at Brightfield Group, told Bloomberg. In the meantime, though, smaller companies are searching for a way to carve out their own niche — and one of the tactics they’re trying involves offering single servings of CBD pet food.
In any form, CBD is expensive, and pet food products are no exception. For example, Canna-Pet offers a sampler pack of CBD-infused dog biscuits that retail for $40. Even for the most indulgent pet parent, that’s an intimidating price tag, especially for the first-time purchase of a product that the animal may or may not actually eat.
Brands like Honest Paws are trying to solve that problem by offering single servings of their top selling products. As Min S. Lee, the company’s president of brand development, told Pet Food Processing, “[Single servings are] an attractive option for those customers who have heard about CBD but just haven’t tried it yet. This is a chance to try it for very little commitment.”
The brand’s first offering will be 1 oz. packets of CBD-infused peanut butter intended just for dogs, which will be unveiled for the first time at the SuperZoo 2019 conference in late August (the company has not yet announced how much these will cost, though their full-size product costs $30 for a 16 oz. jar). Made with organic, full spectrum CBD oil that’s tested by independent third party laboratories, it would seem to avoid some of the quality control issues that have plagued the CBD industry to this point — but there are still reasons to be skeptical.
The first concern is that a single serving of CBD-infused pet food is unlikely to make much of a difference in your pet’s levels of anxiety, pain, or insomnia — all conditions which Honest Paws claims its food can treat. One of the few studies specifically examining the effects of CBD on animals — a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science that examined CBD’s ability to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis in dogs — found that it took four weeks of twice-daily treatments to yield positive results.
There’s also the matter of dosing. In the study mentioned above, the dogs received approximately 1 mg of CBD for every pound of body weight. In other words, a 50 lb. dog received around 50 mg of CBD each day. Honest Paws’ CBD peanut butter, on the other hand, contains only 5 mg of CBD per tablespoon-sized serving, meaning that a 50 lb. dog would have to eat 10 spoonfuls per day (for reference, the brand suggests giving dogs under 25 lbs. half a tablespoon per day, with one full tablespoon recommended for dogs over that weight).
While there is some evidence that CBD could be helpful for pets with a number of conditions — including anxiety, joint pain, and epilepsy — a single serving of infused pet food is almost certainly not going to do anything other than (potentially) convincing you to splurge on a bigger bag or jar … which is exactly what these companies are hoping.