Why we don’t use probiotics in any of our supplements

Probiotics are all the rage. Whether you’re in a pet store or a grocery store, it seems like everything from fruit juice to cat litter is touting their probiotic content.

If probiotics are so “hot,” why doesn’t In Clover include them in our products? Although many pet parents say they notice improvement in their animals’ health, there currently exists no scientific method to substantiate these subjective observations.

In Clover’s core philosophy revolves around mindful product developing using evidence-based research. We refuse to take shortcuts or create products based on trends. Our standards for scientific research are head and shoulders above what some other companies will accept as “proof.” Research must include a statistically significant population, utilize standard scientific practices and be species-specific (conducted in dogs and cats). Alternatively, some products are developed by making assumptions using in vitro (completed in a test tube; no animals involved), mice or human studies. Our purposeful formulation not only allows us to substantiate any claims, but it also results in supplements with a high probability of real, tangible results.

In contrast to probiotic supplements, prebiotics have been been well researched. In fact, In Clover’s president was a pioneer in prebiotic clinical studies, and her published works have inspired product developers across industries and around the world.

In Clover’s OptaGest® digestive aid contains clinically tested levels of organic prebiotics and vital digestive enzymes.

Further reading: Assessment of commercial probiotic bacterial contents and label accuracy

“Probiotics are widely available for use in animals but quality control of veterinary probiotics has been shown to be poor. The objective of this study was to evaluate the labels and bacterial contents of commercial probiotics marketed for use in animals. … Only 4/15 (27%) products that had specific claims of viable organisms met or exceeded their label claim. Only 2 of these also had an acceptable label, which properly described the contents. Deficiencies in veterinary probiotic quality remain. Veterinarians and owners should scrutinize commercial probiotics and demand evidence of quality control and efficacy.”

What is a “patented” animal supplement?

By: Rebecca Rose, biochemist and founder of In Clover

Have you ever gone into the office after a weekend of hiking and camping under the stars only to hear a co-worker say they also went camping… in their car… at a crowded campsite? Even though those are both forms of “camping,” they’re not the same. Patents face a similar communication problem.

A patent indicates uniqueness and a protected status. In the supplement industry, the gold standard is patenting the entire product. This is difficult mostly because of the high burden of proof required to achieve this type of patent. The patented supplement has to demonstrate that the combination of ingredients has been shown to offer a unique benefit. This can be shown through stringent clinical studies. The supplement has to be so different that the combination of ingredients and how it works is not obvious. The formulation has to be so special and thoughtful that no one has ever created it before and the patent protects that formulation as unique.

The other kind of patent is for an individual ingredient, such as vitamin C or blue-green algae. Of course, these ingredients are not unique. The patent is not about the thoughtfulness of the ingredient, but instead, for a tweak they made to the production process. Ingredient patents are used to protect a brand and do not have the value of a complete supplement patent. Sometimes, the claimed patent is simply for an ingredient the company purchased, and they may not have added it to their product in the levels listed in the patent. This is crowded car camping at its worst!

Examine your supplement labeling, and see if the patent reference applies to an ingredient or the entire product. At In Clover, we have three issued product and method patents for Connectin joint supplement*. This reflects the unique formulation, the effective combination of ingredients and the stringent clinical studies Connectin has completed. Give your pet the patented, complete and proven support of Connectin.

*Connectin Joint Supplement, U.S Patent Numbers 5,916,565; 6,344,220; 6,709,682. Product and Method for Treating Joint Disorders.

When Diet May Not Be Enough – What to Look for in Supplements

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

You can help your dog or cat live a long, healthy life with good food choices.  Quality pet foods lead to healthier pets. But there are situations when feeding a good food, clean water, and exercising your pet may not be enough. Some of the most common health concerns for dogs and cats can be supported with natural pet supplements.

Joint Health – Up to 25% of dogs and 1 in 5 cats experience joint discomfort. Injury, repeated physical stress on the joint, excess weight and genetic predisposition can all contribute to unhealthy joints, reducing the quality of life for the animal.  There are key active ingredients to look for in natural joint supplements for optimal results.

  • Joint Building Blocks:  Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid
  • Ingredients to combat soreness: Yucca, Black Cohosh, Cayenne, MSM
  • Ingredients to fight free radical build-up:  Turmeric, Ginger, Devil’s Claw, Alfalfa, Vitamin C
  • Ingredients to support healthy blood flow:  Nettle, Celery Seed

Digestive/Immune Health – 6.5 million dogs and 12.4 million cats suffer from chronic digestive problems, creating discomfort and reducing immune health. Healthy digestion leads to a strong immune system, among other benefits. Digestive supplements should contain enzymes to break down and deliver nutrients from a pet’s food to every part of the body. Situations that lead to insufficient enzyme levels include advanced age, strenuous exercise, illness, stress, processed food, genetic factors or antibiotic use.  The four key enzymes for dogs and cats are:

  • Protease for Muscle: Provides protein digestion in the stomach and small intestine
  • Amylase for Energy: Digests starchy foods to release simple sugars
  • Cellulase for Fiber: Provides dogs and cats with the enzyme needed to reduce the bulking effect of fibrous foods
  • Lipase for Overall Health: Digests fatty acids allowing the pet to absorb Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Vitamins A, D, E and K

Also, digestive supplements with fructooligosaccharides (FOS) support intestinal balance and a healthy immune system. FOS selectively feeds the beneficial, native bacteria in the dog or cat’s system.  Unlike probiotics (live microorganisms), FOS does not have to be refrigerated and is more customized to your pet’s unique system, promoting growth of bacteria already naturally present.

To find high quality natural supplements that will work well, look for products that add back what the body would naturally make if it were healthy. Compare ingredients and look for supplements that contain clinically-tested levels of active ingredients, and minimal inactive ingredients. Finally, look for the NASC Quality Seal.  This means the manufacturer has passed rigorous quality audits.

There are many common situations where a pet owner might consider adding supplements to their pet’s healthy diet; times when the pet’s own natural processes may not be able to keep up with the demands placed on its body.   Supplements that add back what the body would naturally make in a healthy state can help keep pets healthy, active and vibrant.

What’s for Your Pet’s Dinner? 5 Ingredients to Avoid.

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

Good food is important for your dog and cat.  A balanced, high quality diet will give your pet more energy, better digestion, healthier skin and coat and more fully developed muscles.

My dog, Floyd, came into my life after living off the streets and foraging for food.  He survived but he certainly did not thrive on his low quality diet of junk food.  It would be like us eating a daily diet of McDonald’s.  We would certainly not feel our best and we would probably not live as long.

When you are shopping for pet food, read the label, ingredients are listed in order of quantity.  Look for a food with:

  • Real meat, not byproducts
  • Primary  ingredient is protein
  • Minimal grain

Don’t get lured by the pretty package, sometimes the bag has better ingredients pictured on the outside than what is contained in the food inside.  Here are 5 ingredients to avoid in your pet’s diet.

  • Low quality protein such as byproducts, animal digest, undefined “meat”
  • Sweeteners,  sugar, glucose, dextrose, fructose, HFCS, sorbitol
  • Grains such as corn, soy, wheat
  • Cellulose – in budget weight loss formulas
  • Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives such as Ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, sodium   benzoate

I am currently feeding Primal Raw, Taste of the Wild, and  Evo wet food. Share your food experiences, what works or does not work for your dog or cat?

Are Pet Supplements Safe and Effective? What to be aware of plus three quality tests for your joint supplement.

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

An Associated Press article hit the newsstands this month proclaiming that tests reveal some animal supplements skimp on medicine. The article went on to say that a company had tested 6 joint supplements and 4 of them didn’t pass the muster. According to the National Animal Supplement Council, there are 665 pet supplement ingredients on the market.

Hmmm, how do I know if my pet’s joint supplement is safe and effective?  Here is a quick test.  Check your pet’s joint supplement against these three questions.

  1. Has your product been Vet Tested through Independent Studies, with Statistically Significant results?  Be aware of general claims such as “vet recommended” or “researched”.  Often these are code for my neighbor is a vet and he recommends this product, or I gave the product to 5 friends and they liked it.
  2. Is the product label transparent with a section for Product Facts with Active Ingredients in order of quantity and In Active Ingredients in alphabetical order?  Be aware of products with this statement:  *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. This means they are labeling for human standards and may not understand your pet’s needs or what ingredients are okay for people but toxic for dogs and cats.
  3. Does the product display the National Animal Supplement Council Quality Seal?  This lets you know that the product and the company adhere to transparent labeling, adverse event reporting and third party audits.

Having been involved in the pet supplement industry for 14 years, I know there are good companies and products out there.  I also know that this is a growth industry with low barriers to entry.  You have the responsibility to your pet to do the research and read the labels, they are counting on you.

What to watch for on your pet’s supplement label

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

70% of drugs commonly prescribed by veterinarians are not approved for use in dogs and cats. Additionally, the animal health supplements you buy over the counter and from your vet are unapproved drugs in the eyes of the regulators. This is true because in 1994 when congress passed DSHEA, the dietary supplement health and education act, they specifically said it did not apply to animals. There is no legal definition for animal health products such as joint supplements, if they are not a complete food, and they are not, they have to be an unapproved drug in the eyes of the regulators. This doesn’t mean that all of these unapproved drugs are bad for your pet or of poor quality, but it does mean that it is your responsibility as consumers to be informed label readers, especially with the supplements you are giving your pet.

Here are the key things to watch and watch out for on animal health care products:

  1. Watch out for animal care products with an asterisk that notes the statements made are not approved by the FDA, this is a DSHEA rule only for human products and means that the producer does not understand animal products or your pet’s needs.
  2. Do look for products whose labels list active ingredients, inactive ingredients, precautions and warnings; this indicates that the producer understands the requirements specifically for pets.
  3. Always look for the NASC, National Animal Supplement Council, yellow quality seal on the label.  This tells you that the producer adheres to extensive quality parameters, adverse event reporting and independent audits of their facility.  This is the best way to be assured your pet is getting a high quality, safe product.