Full Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate for Pets [The Facts]

Full Spectrum CBD for Pets

The term full spectrum is thrown around quite a bit in the CBD industry these days - and for good reason. Determining whether a CBD product is full spectrum or isolate is among the most important things to vet (pun intended) when shopping for which CBD you will offer your clients (checking Certificates of Analysis is another important step). 

Decades ago, Israeli scientist Ralph Mechoulam coined the term ‘entourage effect’ in an effort to describe the powerful synergy that exists between all the constituents of hemp (rather than isolated molecules). Hemp contains upwards of 500 phytonutrients, such as

  • Essential Fatty Acids
  • Cannabinoids
  • Terpenes
  • Antioxidants 

The most common type of CBD is, unfortunately, CBD isolate is ultra-concentrated crystals consisting only of a single cannabinoid, thus lacking the synergy of multiple cannabinoids ingested in tandem.

In contrast, full spectrum CBD products contain more than just a single cannabinoid; they offer the whole host of cannabinoids found naturally in hemp. 

Vitamin C is a great example to understand why this all matters. Many people are familiar with taking Emergen-C when sick to fight off a cold or flu - however, Emergen-C contains ascorbic acid (along with some other synthetic, isolated vitamins), which is only one component of the Vitamin C molecule. You can think of Vitamin C like an orb, and ascorbic acid is the shell that protects the other 250+ parts of Vitamin C on the inside. 

Ascorbic acid is an isolate of naturally occurring vitamin C - in order to truly be Vitamin C, it must contain rutin, bioflavonoids, Factor K, Factor J, Factor P, tyrosinase, ascorbinogen, and other components, as well as other mineral co-factors. When these are absent, the body will draw on its own stores to make up the differences so that the whole vitamin may be created.

In the same vein, studies have demonstrated CBD Isolate lacks the benefits of its wholistic, naturally occurring form. In addition, it is victim to a narrow bell-shaped dose-response curve, wherein benefits only occur at a specific dose; too little, and nothing happens; too much, and symptoms may worsen. 

The Snake Oil Dilemma

CBD - Snake Oil or Medicine?

The current state of public opinion on CBD is a big part of the challenge when discussing CBD with your clients. Between 2014 and 2018, when major federal legislation made it possible to legally grow hemp in the US (for the first time in 50 years), everyone and their brother seemed to jump on the bandwagon. This, combined with a lack of clear guidance from the government on anything related to CBD production, contributed to the cluster of issues we are now dealing with.

Everywhere you looked, CBD was being touted as a cure-all for everything from migraines to fear of the dark. Public interest skyrocketed, and everybody was suddenly talking about - and buying - CBD. The lack of federal regulations (a problem that persists today) allowed thousands of [unscrupulous] companies to spring up overnight, offering CBD products that were at best ineffective and at worst actually toxic (thanks to contaminants like residual solvents or heavy metals; many companies sourced hemp from heavily polluted regions like China and India).

Over time, more and more people grew disenchanted with CBD, as they spent large sums of money on products promising to fix their health problems and felt exactly nothing, no matter how much or how long they took it. This resulted in masses of people writing off CBD as just another snake oil. To compound the problem, most CBD companies use words like full spectrum, highest quality, lab-tested, etc., and have more or less made these words meaningless to the common reader. 

This is all to say why it’s crucial to be able to articulate the difference between a full spectrum product like Dr. K’s versus CBD Oil Isolate you would find lining the shelves at health foods stores. Equally important is helping your customers understand how rare it is for omega-3-rich fish oil to be the carrier oil in CBD products - and why that’s a big deal (learn more on that here). 

The reason that companies selling CBD Isolate have to spend so much on marketing is because it’s hard work to convince people to buy something that produces no discernible benefits - their only hope is making the branding and label so attractive that people buy it because ‘hey, it’s the coolest looking one, so I guess it’s the best.’ It happens to the best of us - human beings are very visual creatures.

But the beautiful thing about Dr. K’s CBD is that the product speaks for itself. For example, send one of your clients home with a sample of our CBD, and chances are they will see an immediate and obvious change in their pet’s behavior. Whether that means the nervous-wreck doggy is, for once, relaxing on the couch without a care in the world, or the older animal who doesn’t get around much due to joint pain is now doing zoomies in the backyard - there will be no denying that this stuff works. 

The bottom line - before you overload your clients trying to describe things like full spectrum vs. CBD isolate, let them see the benefits firsthand. Seeing is believing, and when they inevitably come back and want to talk more about the surprising benefits Dr. K’s CBD had on their animal, that’s your chance to explain the dramatic differences between full spectrum and isolate. 

The Science Doesn’t Lie: Full Spectrum is Superior

People are skeptical, especially about CBD - and you can’t blame them. So when you’re having this discussion with a customer about why Dr. K’s is a superior product, here are just a few things you could point out from one published study. [1]

“One remarkable observation of this study is the difference in average dose reported by patients taking “plant-based” [full spectrum] and “purified” [CBD isolate] CBD treatments. The patients treated with CBD-rich extracts reported a significantly lower average daily dose than patients using purified CBD. As described in the results section, the average dose described by patients taking CBD-rich Cannabis extracts was over 4x lower than that reported by patients taking purified CBD. This data suggests that CBD is 4x “more potent” when administered in full spectrum form, probably because other minor compounds present in the extract may contribute to its therapeutic effect. The interpretation of higher potency of CBD in combination with other minor compounds is in line with previous reports of synergistic effects between cannabinoid and even non-cannabinoid compounds.”

“There was a higher number of patients reporting improvement after using CBD-rich Cannabis extracts (71%) than those treated with purified CBD (46%).”
“Patients treated with CBD-rich extracts [another term for full spectrum] reported lower average dose (6mg/kg/day) than those using purified CBD [CBD Isolate] (25.3mg/kg/day). The reports of mild and severe adverse effects were more frequent in products containing purified CBD than in CBD-rich extracts (76% vs. 33% for mild, 26% vs. 7% for severe). CBD-rich extracts seem to present a better therapeutic profile than purified CBD, at least in this population of patients with refractory epilepsy. The roots of this difference are likely due to the synergistic effects of CBD with other phytocompounds (aka entourage effect), but this remains to be confirmed in controlled clinical studies.”


And this is only one of many studies done on this specific subject. 

Companies use CBD isolate because it’s cheaper, easier, and more efficient to make. Dr. K’s is concerned with providing the absolute best, most effective, and pure CBD tincture a pet can take. Our pets love us unconditionally and get us through some of our hardest times - let’s show them our gratitude with the best that Mother Nature offers.


  1. Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis, 2018
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