Dogs And CBD With Jonathan Persofsky Of Green Gruff – Ep23

As much as we hold our furry friends close to us, the products given to them can make all the difference in their health. In this episode, Jonathan Persofsky, the Co-Founder and CEO of Green Gruff discusses his experience leading a pet-centric CBD business.

Heading an influential store with products created specifically for pets, they are leading the way in expanding the world of CBD to dogs all around. Tune in to hear more about how Green Gruff produces the highest-quality formulations for pets, as well as educating consumers about the right supplements for their pets.

Insights From The Episode

  • How Jonathan went from CEO of a successful barbecue restaurant chain, to CEO of business selling CBD for dogs.
  • Why it is important to be a pet-first company, and how Jonathan was able to create the best formulations for pets by focusing not just on CBD, but on all active ingredients.
  • What the leading products are for Green Gruff, including formulations for mobility, calming, skin and coat, and internal gut health.
  • How pet owners can approach dosing for their animals by starting slow and reaching the optimal level over time.
  • How some customers of Green Gruff have given the products to their felines and reported exceptional results, the only occasional problem being the flavors.
  • What some of the common misconceptions of CBD for dogs are, including the worry of getting one’s animals loopy, although the best way to defeat these misunderstandings is by word of mouth.
  • While the future of CBD includes the rising of sustainable CBD businesses, much works still needs to happen when it comes to providing the best diet for animals.
  • What is next on the table for Green Gruff, including the drive to share their products to as many dogs as possible, and expanding their line of products to include all things dog, not just supplements.

Resources & Links From The Episode

Connect With The Guest

About Green Gruff

Jonathan Persofsky is the co-founder and CEO of Green Gruff, a dog wellness company focused on creating high-quality all-natural, organic, and vet-approved dog supplements, including those with CBD. Jonathan has nearly 20 years of experience identifying and addressing gaps in consumer shopping and needs in multiple industries, including software, hospitality, and pets.

Episode Transcript

Scott: Hey, how’s it going, everybody? Scott here again, and welcome to another episode of “The CBD Guide Podcast.” Excited about the show today. We are once again gonna be talking about CBD for pets, those little guys that give us so much love and we wanna help them out. And CBD is helping so many of them. Joining me to really help explore this and share his story is Jonathan Persofsky, who is the co-founder and CEO of Green Gruff Inc. He’s got a really interesting story and I’m excited to hear from him. So, Jon, welcome to the show, and thanks for being here.

Jonathan: Thank you, Scott. I’m happy to be here today.

Scott: Absolutely. You’re based in Canada, right? How are things…how’s your Canadian summer going?

Jonathan: It’s actually been pretty good. I’m here in Whistler, BC, and, you know, enjoying everything that this place has to offer.

Scott: I love it, I love it. Okay. I’ve got to ask this because I always like to begin with the story behind the business and how you got into CBD. But you were previously the co-founder and CEO of Toronto’s top barbecue restaurant. So, barbecue to CBD. Green Gruff is the name of your business that you co-founded. How did you make that transition? How did you discover CBD and say, “You know what? Okay, barbecue was fun, but it’s time to do CBD for pets?”

Jonathan: Well, it’s actually… It’s an interesting story because my co-founder is actually my mother, and the story goes like this. So I was running my barbecue restaurants in Toronto and my mother came to me one day, and she sits on the board of Aphria at the time, now Tilray, and said, you know, “You’re not gonna believe this, Jon, but we just had a presentation from Boston Consulting Group that CBD for dogs is gonna be the next biggest thing. And we can’t get into it because we’re Canadian. It was missed in the Canadian legislation.” And she said, “I got approvals.” She said, “You got to look into this and we got to go ahead and do this together. This is a big opportunity for us right now.”

And I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I’ll go take a look at it.” And that’s what got my curiosity into this. And so, I really saw there that, wow, I saw some initial research, I saw what was going on, and I believed in it. But what I saw mostly was that people were going about this all wrong, the companies that were there, mainly cannabis companies that were human-first decided that they could take a basic dog treat, put some CBD on it and say, “Oh, I got a pet line now. I’m all set.” And we said, you know, “That’s not the way to do it.” And someone who really…a family of dogs, love dogs, I said, “That’s not how you look pet wellness, pet nutrition.” It really opened my eyes to say, okay, we can do something here, but we have to do it right and we have to… We need to be a pet-first company.

Scott: Right. Pet-centric, right? I mean, it seems so obvious, but the truth is that there are people doing things the other way, and that’s not great.

Jonathan: Exactly.

Scott: So you go ahead and you say, “Okay, we wanna be pet-first.” And then, I mean, I guess what kind of… What sort of went into take getting Green Gruff off the ground and really saying, “Okay, I wanna take this and really execute on it?”

Jonathan: So, for me, I was like, “Okay, there’s an opportunity here,” and then it was about putting all of the necessary pieces together. And one of the things that I had also come across recently was crickets as a protein source, as being an incredibly healthy sustainable protein source. And I said, “Ah, this needs to be part of what I’m doing here.” And I went out from there to go find the best formulations person that I could find. I found a nutritionist, Serge Boutet, he’s a leading animal nutritionist focusing on making stuff with insect proteins and changing that as a core protein source of what’s being used. And said, “I need you to make me the best formulations you can for the things that dogs are suffering from.”

Scott: That’s fantastic. And then you add the CBD to that, but you have the sort of this cricket base, I guess, for like the proteins and things?

Jonathan: Exactly. As part of a great supplement, what you need is you need to ensure that absorption is there and your protein source plays a core role in absorption and bioavailability of the product that you’re putting together. But, you know, what I learned when working with him is that CBD is an incredible ingredient, but it’s part of the solution when you’re looking at supplements for dogs. It’s not the only thing that matters. And it’s about what are all of the active things, actives that dogs need to help them with that challenge. Because it’s…if we’re looking at something like, you know, hips and joints with dogs, you need to worry about inflammation, you need to worry about lubrication, we’re talking about repair. You can’t expect all of that to happen from CBD. CBD is great, but you wanna be supporting that and you want the absorption, but you wanna do with all of those components. And that’s why you need additional high-quality actives.

We have turmeric, we’ve got green-lipped mussel, we have glucosamine. These are core active ingredients that help with that support. And then what you’ll see is that each one of our products are completely uniquely formulated. You’re not just gonna see a one or two-ingredient difference between them all. They’re all really geared towards what the dog needs.

Scott: So, yeah. So, what kind of product specifically do you have, I guess, if you could break down some of the differences here with like, you’ve got these different formulations?

Jonathan: So I just mentioned our EASE product, which is for hips and joints, mobility formulation. We also have RELAX, which is our calming chew for dogs. And what you’ll see in that chew is, we’ll have chamomile, we have Valerian root, and we have tryptophan in there. Those are, you know, sort of three the core actives that are in there because, you know, dogs, as it relates to problems with anxiety or calming related stuff, we’re talking about different processing systems. We’re talking serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. You can’t manage all of those with just a single active ingredient. You wanna create homeostasis. And for us, it wasn’t about giving the dog, you know, just directly putting that into the product, but helping them create their own balance and finding their own homeostasis.

Scott: Right, right. And really going for the supplement angle, so it’s not just like a one-off kind of thing. It’s like, “Hey, how do we create this long-term balance?”

Jonathan: Exactly. And so, treat that as a daily supplement that’s building this ongoing health. And let’s not try to get our dog into a state of anxiousness. Let’s make sure they never get there and can maintain the best version of themselves always. So our third product in our CBD line is our skin and coat product, we call it SOOTHE. And so, that product is loaded with omegas in addition to the CBD, and we get that from tons of fish oils and actually putting salmon in there to give it the nutritional components as well that are needed.

And so, in general, what you’ll see is in all of our products… So, in addition to those sort of heavy hitters for those conditions is we have 14 active ingredients in every single one of our products all designed towards overall, you know, animal health, giving those extra vitamins and minerals that they also might need, because I think that’s the whole point of the supplement is sort of when you have this opportunity here, let’s give them everything we can.

Scott: Absolutely. And I’m just thinking about, you know, the product you have for the coat. I remember when I was a kid, we had a Bichon, his name was Max. And my dad started just taking fish oil, and, you know, he’d crack them open and put it on his Kibbles when he had his dinner and it definitely was helping his coat. So, those omega-3s and kind of having that sort of… Those kinds of ingredients as part of a product that’s targeting that coat. I mean, it makes perfect sense. That stuff works.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Scott: So, I’m curious because, okay, you’ve got these great products targeting things like hips, like anxiety, you know, their coat. Are there any other wellness targets that you tend to see folks using your products for or you’re at least designing them for?

Jonathan: So we have our latest product that we’ve released and it’s in our non-CBD line because we have both is what we call our DETOX product, and that’s your internal gut health product. And we’ve loaded that with all the probiotics, enzymes, and an additional thing to support for gut health, and it’s just sort of that loaded all-in-one, I think because just dogs get crazy things into their system.

Scott: Oh, yeah. Yes, they do.

Jonathan: And, you know, really from there there’s lots of additional things that we can create for dogs. But those are the, you know, when you look at those conditions, those are the big heavy hitters. Those are the ones that dogs suffer from in their lifetime and that’s where we really wanted to start and make sure that we could help the most number of dogs with.

Scott: So, I’m curious… I mean, that’s great you have all these different products, all these really important wellness targets that they’re going for. A lot of people have questions about dosing, because, you know, dogs come in all shapes and sizes, especially even just in CBD in general, I think dosing is such a big conversation of how much is effective, how much is too much, how much is not enough. How do you approach your dosing recommendations for Green Gruff?

Jonathan: So, our dosages are set by weight of the dog. But I tell everyone, like, ease your dog into these. These are big adjustments for the system. This is tons of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and change for your dog’s diet. Treat it the same way as if you’re, you know, changing their food allocation. You work it in slowly. You have the opportunity to do that with these supplements as well. And so, you start low. And you’ll find, you know, the benefit of these types of products is you start seeing the differences right away. You can find that great spot for your dog. So we say half dose for the first week, but, you know, you start slow and you get to the level that you want. There are guidelines and you can see how your dog is doing and how your dog is responding, and find the right spot for them. I think that’s what’s important. You don’t need to hit that off to a level on day one. You need to get there.

Scott: Right. And who knows your dog better than you, right? So, you can observe your dog and watch, and say, “Okay, well, I started with this half dose, then I added this. And now I’m seeing, oh, maybe they’re not limping, or they have a little better energy, or they aren’t as anxious,” you know, then you kind of go from there, right?

Jonathan: Exactly.

Scott: So I do not have a dog actually. Someday I want one. I had one when I was a kid, but I do have three cats. And I know there’s lots of folks out there that have all different kinds of pets. What are your thoughts, Jon, on the potential for CBD for other pets out there? I feel like a lot of it is focused on the dogs because there are so many dogs out there and they’re so ubiquitous, and have, you know, hip problems and these kinds of things. But what are your thoughts on other pets?

Jonathan: So, believe it or not, we have a lot of customers that are using our products on cats, and, you know, for them it’s… And people say, “Can I use your products on cats?” I mean, from a formulation’s perspective, yes, this is everything that your cat still needs. From a flavor perspective, I designed them generally for dogs. People have had great success crumpling them up over their food to bring this into them, but like, these supplements are needed for cats, I think, just as much as dogs. We’re a dog-focused company, we’re everything dogs and went deep. But, you know, I’ve been getting some great success stories back from customers that have, you know, done this sort of on their own and taking that method, and said that they’re having fantastic results. Because these are the same active ingredients that cats need and can benefit from.

Scott: That’s great. And in terms of the flavor, yeah, I’m sure cat owners listening right now are nodding their heads, you know, sometimes cats can be a little pickier than dogs on some things. But, you know, if it tastes good, your cat will take it.

Jonathan: And so, our products are not protein first, you know, we’re not beef, or chicken, or things like that, generally. So, you’ll see that we have… Because we have our salmon in our SOOTHE coats, and in general, our other flavors are in this pumpkin coconut. We find that we are getting more cats than potentially some of the other products. But as I said, cats can be particular.

Scott: Right. So maybe try out another flavor if one is not working, because you may have to mess with it a little bit. I always say for cats too, you got to find the jackpot kinda thing. So, if your cat has like some kinda, you know, whatever juice or treat that you like, you know, maybe try to put that in there and see if they’ll take it, right?

Jonathan: Yeah, exactly. That would work.

Scott: So, I’m curious, you guys have had a lot of success and, you know, you started this new business in this industry that you weren’t really aware of before, but then you were like, “Wow, this is such a great opportunity and great thing we can build.” There is a lot of competition out there. A lot of people are saying, “Hey, this is a great industry. I wanna dive in. I wanna start selling, you know, treats for dogs, CBD supplements for dogs.” What have been some of your keys to really breaking through all of that noise and really separating yourselves out and reaching people with your products and your message?

Jonathan: I think the one thing that I wanted to ensure is that being a dog-centric company and understanding that people treat their dogs and make the same buying decisions for stuff for their dogs as they would for themselves, that dogs are truly members of our families now and that those principles are important. That’s why when I built these products, I focused on things… Creating an organic, sustainable product, looking at the highest quality ingredients, made the best way, designed for dogs, and, you know, not just… And not only developed by the leading nutritionist, but I also sent it to the number one vet in the United States who’s now working with us, Dr. Jeffrey Powers. He was the head of the AVMA, like the chairman for biologics and therapeutics, you know, all things that are for dogs that are not the surgeries or medications, sort of looking at that. And he was spearheading the division for cannabis as well.

Gave our products to him to ensure that it’s in place. I wanted to make sure that efficacy was high up there. But as I said, from a values perspective, from a positioning perspective, I wanted to make sure that our products need to resonate with our consumers by focusing on the things that are important as a company that go even beyond the product itself.

Scott: Right. Because at the end of the day, you’re selling something that people are gonna give to their dogs, put in their dogs’ bodies, and they’re giving it to their dog because they want their dog to be healthy and happy, and be around for as many years as they can possibly be around. So it makes sense that you, like, lead with that quality aspect of it and the, “Hey, we’re doing everything the right way.” And like you said at the top, leading with a sort of dog-centric focus rather than, “Oh, yeah, we were making these products for humans. Yeah, go ahead give it to your dog.”

Jonathan: And I said, like, I keep working on how do I make these products better? And so, while the formulations are great now, we’re manufacturing now in 100% solar-powered, we’re now using upcycled plastics in our packaging. We’re constantly taking those steps forward and I think that’s in our DNA for what we’re here to do, and I think that’s the approach. It’s not just make something and then, “Oh, I’ve got it. I’m ready. Let’s go.” It’s gonna, you know, sell stuff. You have to approach this as an ongoing process of where you’re striving for.

Scott: Right. It’s not just, “Oh, I’ve made the product. I’m done.” Because that’s not how you continue to evolve as a business and as just, I think, a person. So, we’re talking about how much people care about their pets. They want their pets to be happy, healthy, all of this. And CBD has really kinda burst onto the scene as something that a lot of people are singing the praises of, but there’s still a lot of misconceptions out there, there’s still a lot of maybe confusion about what CBD is. What do you think may be some of the biggest misconceptions you’ve come across when it comes to CBD and pets? And how can those that are passionate about it or starting businesses for it, like yourself, really clear up some of those misconceptions?

Jonathan: I mean, I think the biggest thing that I get is everyone thinks I’m in the business of getting dogs high. And people making these funny comments about, “Oh, you’re giving the dogs the munchies, or how do you know what’s in place, and what’s this gonna do?” And I’m surprised. But I shouldn’t be surprised, you know, people understand that that’s not the impact of CBD. And that’s one of the, you know, core things, we’re, “No, no, that’s not what you’re gonna see when your dogs are using our products. You’re gonna see that it’s… You’re not going to see this sudden, like, change. It’s not gonna knock your dog out and make them passed out in the corner for the rest of the day.” It’s gonna create that. And I think that people… I think word of mouth is needed a lot in this. I think that’s what people wanna see. They wanna see what’s happening with other dogs, they wanna hear from people who’ve had first-hand experiences of how these types of products have helped their dogs. And in general, as I said, like, I want people to see this as, it’s just another health ingredient when used the right way.

Scott: I think that’s such a great way to approach it. And I can understand if people have this misconception, like, you don’t want your dog to not be your dog because it’s all zonked out or whatever, but really what your products are doing and what CBD can do, especially if it’s combined with all of this, and can help, maybe help them with some hip pain or whatever it might be, it can actually help your dog be more your dog and be back to what you know and love about your dog as opposed to getting them high or any kind of misconception about that, right?

Jonathan: Exactly. And what I said, like, my dog, I have a 12-year-old black lab who is suffering from terrible hip challenges and had to have a full knee replacement a couple years back. And when she started using Green Gruff, what ended up happening is her energy levels came right back up and part of that was, you know, “Oh, I can now run at the stairs, I can now chase balls, I can now whatever.” But it’s I wanna now go out and play more. So I got more of that version of my dog back like I had, you know, five years previously, and it happened so quickly that I was, you know, even astonished at how quickly I was able to experience the results with my dog.

Scott: That’s beautiful. And if you think about it, even just from our human perspective, if, you know, I’ve got a hip that isn’t always the best, man. If my hip is sore, I’m not myself. I’m like, “No, I don’t wanna go on a walk. I don’t wanna hang out. I just wanna sit here.” So, that’s so great that you know, if your dog goes on a Green Gruff supplement and then sees that kind of benefit, I mean, that’s what it’s all about, because that’s the beautiful stuff with having a dog, right?

Jonathan: Absolutely.

Scott: So, as we sort of wind down our chat here, I’m always curious about the future and what comes next. Because we are still in such a sort of new industry, a new landscape, you know. Even now it seems like it’s still pretty early that not that many people are giving CBD supplements to their dogs. There still needs to be a lot of education and more people being aware of it. What do you see in the future for CBD for pets as a whole, and how might this landscape change in the months and years to come?

Jonathan: Firstly, I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to happen as far as what people are giving their dogs and moving away from more of like… When you’re giving a dog a treat, you know, you have the opportunity to be giving them something that’s actually going to improve their health, improve their nutrition levels, and their well-being, and they don’t need junk food. And so, I think that’s part of the motion. I think we’re making these transitions as humans now, and I think it’s an understanding that, okay, our pets really, their diet, what we put into them can really impact their lives as well and their health. And I think we’ll see that taking form…happening with dogs. And I think CBD will get pulled into that.

And I think as it relates to CBD in general, I think what we’re going to see is, over time, more of these smaller companies that haven’t, you know, done all the right things, that aren’t pet-first or pet-focused, or don’t have a big backing on the human side, they’re not gonna make it. Only the quality players will be left. And I think it’s also important that it’s not just, like, you can’t just be a CBD company out there. You need to be a dog-first company or a pet-first company, and then you can produce other things. So that’s why we have a line of supplements that have no CBD in it. Not everyone’s ready yet to give their dogs CBD, and that’s okay. You can still be helping your dogs with these things. You can be moving them in that direction. And then when they trust the brand, they believe what’s in place, then maybe they’ll move to…they’ll be ready to take that next step and say, “Oh, I’m gonna see how the CBD enhancement can help my dog.”

Scott: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s such a good point you make too about like, you can’t just be CBD. Because all the time, I seem to have these conversations with founders and business owners in the CBD world, and there’s this question of, well, how do you get someone to take the plunge? How do you get someone to really trust in the quality of the product and give it a shot? And I think if you do things like you’re talking about, like, “Hey, we’re a dog-first brand, and if CBD isn’t a right fit or not something you wanna try for your dog now, that’s totally okay. It’s your dog. You wanna do what’s best for your dog. But hey, we have this other thing.” Or if it’s not even, you know, kind of your business, if it’s another CBD business, it’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” “Well, here’s a free sample. Go ahead, try it, tell me what you think.” That kind of approach is really what I’m seeing more and more successful CBD companies are doing.

And I think you’re right too, Jon, about that quality approach and how those that aren’t necessarily doing things the right way, they’re gonna continue to kind of go by the wayside because it’s just not sustainable and there are so many people doing things the right way that they’re just gonna stand above it all for sure. My last question here is, what’s next for Green Gruff? Any exciting projects going on that you can share, of course, that our listeners might find to be interesting?

Jonathan: We always have a lot going on in the background. We are really busy working on getting into as many places as possible. I really wanna make sure we get our chews into as many dogs’ mouths as possible for them to sort of experience, and that’s big opportunities with grocers, pet stores, cannabis dispensaries, with both of our pet lines. We also have some stuff in the works as it relates to a vet line of products, you know, stronger products for more intense conditions, I’d say. And really where I see the future of Green Gruff ultimately is, I wanna go beyond pet supplements with our brand and what we’re creating. I think there’s a big opportunity still to create other products that are sustainable organic products that just translate into more of the dog’s life. And I think the industry could really use a brand that you can trust for all things dog, and not just about the supplements themselves.

Scott: Right. So a really holistic kind of approach to, hey, yeah, supplements are great, that’s a great piece, but even more than that, there’s so many other things.

Jonathan: Exactly.

Scott: Jon, thank you so much for joining me on the show today, sharing the Green Gruff story, talking CBD for dogs. I mean, I think there’s so much potential still to be realized here and you guys are leading the charge. If folks are interested and they wanna find out more about Green Gruff, maybe they have a dog that might benefit from trying some of your supplements, where should they go? Where can they find you guys and connect?

Jonathan: So, you can find us at greengruff.com. If you wanna order directly, we’re in… Our CBD products are in over 350 cannabis dispensaries, you know, throughout the United States. And then for our non-CBD line for those who, you know, aren’t quite sure yet, you can find those on Amazon and Chewy.

Scott: Fantastic. Thanks again, Jon.

Jonathan: All right. Thank you, Scott.

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