In Clover’s online pet health library features articles by biochemist and In Clover founder Rebecca Rose in addition to other industry experts. Learn the ins and outs of the pet supplement market, including how to read labels and what to look for in a quality product plus get advice on other common pet health concerns and questions.
Use the categories on the right side of the screen to find specific content.
By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder & product developer
Who feels stupid now for talking baby talk to the dog? Not me! An article published in this week’s Science Journal showed what you probably already realized: Your dog loves when you say nice things in that high-pitched voice. Through MRI scanning, scientists in Hungary proved that dogs process language like us, using both sides of the brain. Like humans, dogs use the left sides of their brains to process words and the right sides to process intonation.
Scientists found that dogs’ reward centers responded to praise, but only true praise that was given with a positive intonation. “It shows that for dogs, a nice praise can very well work as a reward, but it works best if both words and intonation match,” Attila Andics said in a release. “So dogs not only tell apart what we say and how we say it, but they can also combine the two, for a correct interpretation of what those words really meant.”
Some pet parents have indicated they rotate their pets’ joint supplements because the supplements appear to “stop working.” While there may be some benefit to swapping out incomplete or inferior joint support products, In Clover supplements are mindfully developed to be fed for the lifetime of the animal.
There are many joint support products on the market that feature incomplete formulations. A complete joint supplement will include all three of the critical joint building blocks: glucosamine (for joint cushion), chondroitin (for flexibility) and hyaluronic acid (for joint lubrication).
Even if these ingredients are present, attention must be paid to the source and quality. Specifically with glucosamine, look at the ingredient’s source, purity and carrier.
- Source: Some glucosamine is derived from corn (labeled as “vegetable source”) while others are sourced from shellfish.
- Purity: The ingredient should list the purity content. In Clover’s glucosamine is 99+% pure, pharmaceutical grade glucosamine.
- Carrier: All glucosamine requires a carrier to be delivered into the body. The hydrochloride (HCl) carrier will deliver 28% more glucosamine than the sulfate carrier (SO4). So, if two products feature 500 mg of glucosamine but use different carriers, the one with the HCl carrier will deliver the highest percentage of the active ingredient.
At In Clover, we know joint support doesn’t end with the supplying the joint building blocks. An effective supplement will feature a holistic approach, addressing the joint, surrounding structures and related issues.
- Regulating normal inflammatory response: Inflammation may occur due to exercise, the normal aging process or regular, daily activity. If a product does not regulate this response, you will likely see diminished results.
- Antioxidants: Free radicals will build up around the joint and impede the effectiveness of the joint building blocks. If this is not addressed, even a supplement with all three building blocks may become less effective in the animal over time.
When formulating Connectin, our company’s founder and biochemist Rebecca Rose took all factors into consideration. That’s why we’ve included all three building blocks — using the highest quality and most effective ingredients — as well as an herbal blend to support comfort, encourage healthy circulation and produce lasting results.
There is another issue worth addressing here: Animals all have physical thresholds, which are highly dependent on current health status and history. Once a dog or cat meets his or her threshold, gains in mobility will slow and should hold steady, which should not be confused with decreased effectiveness. Think about it this way: If an obese person starts on a weight-loss program, he or she will see astonishing results within the first months, losing many pounds in a short period of time. But, eventually, the person will reach a healthy weight and will then start maintaining their fitness level and stop shedding pounds. In this scenario, the weight-loss program is maintaining its effectiveness, keeping the person feeling his or her best. On the other hand, if the person then started gaining back the weight, that would be a failure of the program.
Thanks to Connectin’s complete formulation, an animal will maximize his or her potential and will continue to work throughout the life of the pet, supporting and maintaining comfort and mobility — with no rotation necessary.
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.
“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.”
It’s not hard to find a pet supplement claiming to be “vet tested,” “clinically tested,” “clinical proven,” has “clinical results” or some other variation, but not all “clinical studies” are created equal.
Survey studies: Some companies play fast and loose with their testing claims, while there was nothing “clinical” or “scientific” about their “study.” Many of these so-called tested supplements simply provided free product to a group of consumers and then asked them to complete a survey about their impressions of the products. This method is wrought with flaws. It is subjective. Responses can easily be influenced. This approach relies on solely on perception and not on any scientific measure.
In vitro studies: Studies that are conducted “in vitro” are experiments conducted in test tubes or petri dishes — not in an animal. Based on the results from these tests, conclusions are drawn about the performance of the supplement within a living animal. Alternatively, studies conducted with living animals are known as “in vivo.”
Non-species-specific studies: A vast number of companies test product performance in animals other than what the supplement was intended for. In the pet industry, this means pet supplements may be tested on mice or humans, which does not offer concrete evidence of how the supplement will react when given to a dog or cat.
Small population studies: Supplement study claims may be based on results seen in only one or a few pets. These studies are open to errors because they didn’t involve enough animals to represent the wider population of dogs and cats. An effective study should include, at a minimum, 30 animals.
Scientifically sound but morally questionable studies: Unfortunately, some sound scientific practices involve crossing or blurring the line of what is humane and moral. One example is the use of Beagle dogs. These animals live in cages and are destroyed once testing has been completed. Another practice employed by a popular joint supplement involved utilizing homeless dogs who were injected with a painful chemical to create joint disorder.
In Clover’s gold standard studies: In Clover utilizes only scientifically sound research to develop our world-class supplements. This extra level of care ensures the In Clover supplements you give your canine companion or feline friend have the highest probability of success.
Just one example of the research behind our products is the clinical study of our Connectin joint supplement. Connectin was clinically tested by a group of independent researchers at an internationally renowned veterinary university. The study population was comprised of more than 80 household pets who had been diagnosed with joint disorder by a veterinarian. To avoid any bias, the dogs were divided into two groups: one group received a daily placebo while the other group received Connectin daily. The animals’ mobility and comfort were measured using state-of-the-art force-plate analysis. A force place measures the amount of pressure applied to each limb. Stride length and reactions to palpation (touch) were also monitored. Using humane practices, measurable results and sound scientific methods, this gold-standard study illustrated that the pets who were given Connectin showed statistically significant improvements in mobility in an average of 15 days.
While studies like these are certainly more labor and cost intensive than some other methods, we think your pet is worth it!
Probiotics are “good” or “friendly” bacteria that reside within the gut (intestines) of mammals, including humans, dogs and cats. Probiotics are living organisms that act as little “factories” that produce essential nutrients the body needs to function.
Each animal has his or her own unique, preferred strain of probiotics. The preferred strain is the one that will be at the highest level when the animal is healthy. If there are three dogs playing in a park, it’s unlikely that any of them will have the same preferred strain of probiotics.
Think of our animals’ digestive systems like vehicles. While they all take fuel to run, there are certain types of fuel that work best for particular vehicles, whether that’s high-grade gasoline, diesel, coal or electricity. To help that vehicle run, you need to give it the fuel its “body” prefers.
Probiotic supplements contain living bacteria, generally sourced from cows, goats or sheep in a dairy form. When you give a probiotic supplement to your pet, you are introducing a foreign strain of bacteria into the system. In our fuel example, this is like putting a low-grade gasoline into a high-performance car. Sure, it’ll get the car moving, but it won’t allow the vehicle to perform at its best.
Prebiotics are an ideal food source for your pet’s native, preferred strain of probiotics. Prebiotics cannot feed (penetrate the cell walls) unwanted bacteria.
Prebiotic supplements work to quickly shift the balance of beneficial bacteria to a healthy, natural state. Prebiotics will double your pet’s friendly bacteria every 20 minutes. So, in just three hours, 1,000 bacteria become over 5 million! This targeted feeding allows the beneficial bacteria to multiply, thrive and line the intestinal walls, while undesirable bacteria starves, has nowhere to attach and flush right through the system.
How do antibiotics interact with prebiotics and probiotics?
Antibiotics are intended to kill harmful bacteria in the pet’s system. Unfortunately, they often kill the beneficial microbes as well, including any introduced through a probiotic supplement. However, because prebiotics are not living, they are well-suited to support the digestive tract even during antibiotic use.
Enzymes are the building blocks of life. The functions of enzymes are the same in humans as in animals. These little proteins control essential chemical reactions inside our pets’ (and our) bodies, such as building bones, developing red blood cells, healing wounds, driving heart beats, thinking, breathing and digestion. Without enzymes, life couldn’t exist.
There are three types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes, digestive enzymes, and food enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are responsible for operating the body’s organs, tissues and cells. Digestive enzymes break down foods, allowing their nutrients to be absorbed into the bloodstream and used in body functions. Digestive enzymes ensure our pets get the greatest possible nutritional value from their diets. Lastly, food enzymes are those supplied directly from food.
When our dog or cat is born, he or she has an ample supply of enzymes, but stress, environmental factors, processed foods and aging all reduce the body’s ability to replenish the enzyme supply. Think of enzymes as a bank account. The body is constantly pulling from this account to maintain functions critical to life, and it’s essential to make deposits into this account to ensure the body has what it needs to “pay the bills” (stay healthy).
Digestion trumps all other functions. Think of digestion as the mortgage. This bill has to be paid before anything else, and if there aren’t enough funds to meet the need, the body will pull enzymes from other “accounts” to ensure digestion is completed.
How do we make deposits into this enzyme bank account? One way is to feed our pets raw foods. When foods are heated over 118 degrees Fahrenheit, their enzymes are destroyed. However, even raw foods only contain enough enzymes to digest that food. When considering our bank account metaphor, raw foods make a deposit that is instantly withdrawn. They don’t have any surplus to help replenish the account.
The most effective way to maintain a healthy enzyme level is through supplementation of high quality digestive enzymes.
Unlike hormone replacement therapy, the body does not become dependent on enzyme supplementation. Enzymes are already being produced in the body in response to food intake. The problem lies in the inadequate production of enzymes to meet the demands of stress factors, including denatured food, environmental toxins, physical exercise and emotional stress. Therefore, enzyme supplements help the body to simply catch up to its demands.
In Clover’s digestive aids, OptaGest and Fresh Digest, contain clinically tested levels of digestive enzymes. Just 1/4 teaspoon contains 45 mg of human-quality, plant-based enzymes in addition to 700 mg of organic prebiotic to support a healthy intestinal balance. Just sprinkle over or mix into daily meals to help maintain your pet’s enzyme bank account.
Interested in learning more about enzymes? We recommend The Healing Power of Enzymes by Dr. DicQie Fuller, PH.D., D.Sc.
In 1999, In Clover’s Connectin became the first joint support product proven to show significant improvements in mobility in an average of 15 days as evidenced by gold-standard clinical trials. Independent veterinarians from an international leader in veterinary research conducted an eight-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study that included nearly 50 pets, age 6 months to 19 years. State-of-the-art force-plate analysis measured how much weight the animals could bear on each limb. Stride length and reactions to palpation were also monitored. In an average of just over two weeks, dogs showed statistically significant improvements in affected joints, and – surprisingly – showed better use of joints unidentified as problematic, which illustrates Connectin’s proactive joint protection capabilities.
In the last several years, hoards of supplements and supplement-like products have saturated the market making claims about being clinically tested. Further investigation revealed many companies were “testing” their products by providing free samples to customers and compiling surveys. Other “trials” included small populations — sometimes as small as a single pet.
In an effort to curb customer confusion and raise accountability for pet supplement companies, in 2014, the FDA announced that all products claiming to be “clinically tested” must conduct double-blind, placebo-controlled studies like the studies conducted in 1999 for Connectin.
Hot on the heels of this announcement, Petco publicized in early 2015 that it would not sell any pet supplements that did not display the National Animal Supplement Council’s (NASC) Quality Seal. The NASC is a non-profit industry group dedicated to protecting and enhancing the health of companion animals throughout the United States. NASC conducts audits of companies’ manufacturing processes and pulls finished goods from shelves for purity and quality testing. To earn the NASC Quality Seal, a manufacturer must pass these rigorous audits and adhere to adverse event reporting. The Seal is a way for consumers to know that when they buy a product, they buy from a reputable company committed to best practices and product safety.
In Clover was among the first three companies to earn the NASC Quality Seal in 2005. The company’s founder and product is also an active board member for the NASC, demonstrating a commitment to elevating the entire pet supplement industry.
To learn more about In Clover’s dedication to going above and beyond regulations and their full line of scientifically formulated natural pet supplements visit their website at inclover.com.
Your kitten weighed only a few ounces at birth. He’ll put on about 2 pounds in the next 10 weeks and continue to gain weight rapidly until he’s about 6 or 7 months of age. After that, he’ll continue to gain more slowly until about 11 months of age; his female littermates will grow until they are 9 to 10 months of age. Food fuels not only his growth, but also his energetic play.
Kittens start eating solid food — or, actually, soft food — at about 4 weeks old. A meat-based canned kitten food is ideal for this time. They’re still drinking their mother’s milk at this age and will typically continue to nurse as well as eat kitten food until about 5 or 6 weeks of age.
After weaning, kittens do best on a diet formulated for kittens. Kitten food is more nutrient dense, supplying calories and nutrients in smaller amounts, easier for little stomachs to hold. Avoid adult cat diets labeled for maintenance; they don’t have the higher protein and fat content that kittens need. A dry kitten food should have about 35 percent protein and 12 to 24 percent fat content; canned food will appear to have less because it is diluted with water.
Don’t feed a kitten puppy or dog food. Unlike a dog, a cat is an obligate carnivore, and her body cannot obtain some of the essential nutrients from the vegetable-based ingredients in dog foods. Cats have a higher minimum requirement for protein in their food than do dogs, and they also require some nutrients that dogs don’t necessarily need in their food. For example, cats and kittens require taurine, an amino acid present only in animal tissue, in order to maintain cardiovascular and visual health.
Although cats are carnivores, that doesn’t mean you should feed them just meat. Doing so can lead to nutritional imbalances. Quality commercial cat foods are supplemented to provide optimal nutrition for your kitten. So simply feeding a diet of meat is inadequate. Rapidly growing kittens are especially susceptible to these nutritional imbalances. Nor should you feed lots of fish, which can cause a condition called steatitis (or yellow fat disease). Don’t add vitamin or mineral supplements to a complete and balanced diet. Doing so has been known to cause severe medical problems in kittens.
You’ll want to introduce dry food (perhaps softened at first by moistening it with water) so that your cat will be familiar with both dry and wet foods. In fact, you can offer a variety of foods and flavors to hopefully encourage your cat to be more accepting of novel foods as an adult. But don’t go overboard catering to your kitten’s demands; you don’t want to encourage a finicky eater! And don’t switch the entire meal from one food to another, as this can cause gastric upset. Just introduce small bits of various flavors as adjuncts to the meal.
Because of the kitten’s small stomach, it’s best to divide his food into three or four small meals a day. You can switch to twice-a-day feeding around 6 months, but some older cats also prefer small, frequent meals. Let young kittens eat as much as they want; they will almost certainly not become overweight. You can free feed as long as other pets don’t eat all of the food and you leave out only dry food. Young kittens need a lot of calories for their size.
Most kittens are naturally slender, but if your kitten is overly bony or pot bellied, contact your veterinarian. Parasites and other medical conditions should be ruled out first, but if the problem points to your kitten’s diet, get your veterinarian’s opinion on the best diet for your kitten. An occasional missed meal is no cause for concern, but if your kitten goes several hours without eating (especially a kitten less than 8 weeks old) or is vomiting and has diarrhea at the same time, consult your veterinarian.
The coat and skin should look healthy, and your kitten should be energetic. The stools should be firm, well-formed, and brown in color. If your cat is underweight, seems tired or “quiet,” or has poor skin and coat condition or loose stools, see your veterinarian.
Your kitten should always have access to fresh water. You can give your kitten milk occasionally, but it is not necessary. Also, the enzymes necessary for digesting milk decline shortly after weaning, so some kittens may develop diarrhea from it.
Don’t leave wet food out, as it can quickly go bad. Store food in a cool place, and don’t buy more dry food than you can use in a few weeks.
At around 9 to 12 months of age, change your kitten to adult food. Make the switch gradually, mixing a little more of the adult food with the kitten food over several days. If you leave your cat on kitten food for too long, he could gain too much weight.
What your kitten eats in his first year of life helps form the foundation for a lifetime of good nutrition, so be sure to feed a quality kitten diet to help him on his way to healthy adulthood.
By: Rebecca Rose
The name for this is coprophagia. It is a common problem and there are ways to make it stop!
Sometimes the cause of coprophagia is behavioral. The dog must be trained that eating his feces, or the feces of other animals, is not okay. This can be accomplished by spraying bitter apple over the feces.
Another common reason for coprophagia is that the animal is not adequately digesting the nutrients in the food, leaving partially digested food in the feces. This can be stopped with an enzyme supplement such as OptaGest. Use a product with plant-based enzymes as they will work fast and be most complete. The enzymes will allow the dog or cat to digest all of the nutrients in the food and absorb them into the bloodstream. You will even notice the size and color of the stool changing. In cases like these, stool eating should cease in a few days after starting the supplement regimen.
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley and the City of Boulder Animal Control wants to remind you that your furry or feathered companions may also be feeling the chill. In addition to being vulnerable to the cold weather, many wintertime household products can be harmful to pets. Here are some tips to help ensure that your pets stay healthy and safe until spring:
Provide adequate shelter
Even if your pets are indoor/outdoor creatures, make sure their outdoor areas are well sheltered from the cold and wind. Dog houses should face South and filled with hay or straw as blankets freeze and do not help keep an animal warm. The shelter entryway should be protected by a self closing door, an offset door or a flexible flap made of windproof material. This will allow the animal to maintain its body heat in frigid temperatures. Keep animals inside during especially cold spells and inclement weather.
Supply plenty of potable water
Animals still need to drink plenty of water. Winter air can be very dry, leaving pets dehydrated, just as they are during the hot summer months. Make sure your pets have plenty of food and water. If your pet’s water bowl is kept outside, make sure the water hasn’t frozen during a cold snap.
Use caution when leaving your pet’s food outside, as wild animals may wander onto your property to graze if their usual food supply is suffering a shortage.
Monitor outdoor activity
When taking pets outside for exercise or play, keep them warm with a sweater or jacket made just for them, and only allow them to play for short periods of time. They can become cold quickly as they lose body heat from the large portions of their body that is exposed to the weather such as their feet and face. If your pet is playing off-leash in a snowy area, keep them in sight at all times. Snow makes it difficult for dogs to scent their way back to you and may become lost or confused.
Keep dangerous chemicals out of reach
While taking steps to prepare your car for the long winter, be on the lookout for any antifreeze or engine coolant spills that might occur. These products contain chemicals that are harmful and potentially fatal to animals. It is important that you remember to store any potentially harmful chemicals in clearly marked sealed containers stored in a location that is inaccessible to your pets.
Be careful of ice-melt products
We rely on ice melts to rid slippery sidewalks, roadways and driveways of the ice and snow during the winter months. But these products may contain ingredients such as calcium chloride and sodium chloride (table salt) that can irritate animal paws or skin. Pets may also accidentally ingest ice melt from their paws or from the ground. Depending on the amount ingested, ice melts can potentially produce a variety of effects such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, cardiac abnormalities, seizures, and even death. If you suspect your pet may have accidentally ingested any harmful ingredients, please seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Check your vehicle
During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars for warmth and protection. But a car’s fan belt can kill or injure an animal when the motor starts. If you are aware that there are outdoor or feral cats in your neighborhood, please bang on the hood of the car and wait a few seconds before turning on the engine.
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.
By: Rebecca Rose, biochemist and founder of In Clover
It is tempting to pick a joint supplement for your pet with the highest glucosamine amount and not look any further, but is this the best approach to your animal’s joint health?
Our pets’ bodies are designed to turn nutrients in their food into building blocks to cushion and lubricate their joints. When there is an upset in the system due to injury, aging, diet or genetic factors, the system breaks down and the result is joint disorder and discomfort. To protect joints against wear and tear or to support a pet exhibiting joint discomfort symptoms, you may seek out a glucosamine-based joint supplement. Here are three things you should know about glucosamine supplements:
1. Not all glucosamine is created equal.
Most commonly derived from sea mussels, glucosamine is the joint building block that provides the cushioning for the joint. Not all glucosamine is the same; there are varying qualities of this ingredient. Greater amounts of glucosamine in a product often points to a cheap, low-quality ingredient. Make sure the supplement label shows indicates the glucosamine is 99%+ pure.
2. The carrier matters.
Once you’ve determined a quality glucosamine was used in the product, you’ll want to focus on the glucosamine carrier. When you give your dog or cat a glucosamine supplement, it has another ingredient attached to carry it into the body. This carrier takes up space and replaces some of the glucosamine claimed on the label. The less expensive brands use large carriers. Product using glucosamine HCl will deliver 28% more glucosamine than those using a sulfate carrier.
3. Go beyond glucosamine.
Glucosamine is only one of three essential joint building blocks your pet’s body needs to maintain joint comfort and health. While glucosamine cushions the joint, chondroitin provides joint elasticity and hyaluronic acid lubricates the joint. Providing glucosamine alone is like filling your car with gas but never changing the oil or inflating the tires.
With joint disorder comes inflammation, decreased circulation and increased free radical activity. These symptoms need to be overcome for the joint building blocks to be delivered. The most complete joint supplements will contain glucosamine HCl, chondroitin sulfate, hyaluronic acid plus a delivery system containing anti-inflammatories, circulatory stimulants and anti-oxidants.
Looking for complete and proven joint care?
Connectin joint supplement is the only joint supplement clinically tested in double-blind, placebo-controlled university studies to show results in just 15 days!