Not all “clinical studies” are created equal

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!

What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?

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.

In Clover remains ahead of industry demands

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.

How much is enough? 3 things you should know about your glucosamine supplement.

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 issue 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!

The Value of Prevention with Animal Wellness

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

You have heard the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” With your furry kid, this is a saying that rings especially true.  Our dogs and cats count on us to do the right thing for their care and diet. We make decisions that impact their health on a daily basis.

Healthy Options

Feeding a high-quality food is a great value in avoiding conditions that accompany a poor diet. Unfortunately, that is often not enough. We know one in four of our dogs and cats will develop joint problems in their lives. This is often uncomfortable and expensive. We also know conditions, such as digestive upset, are common and lead to the number one reason for veterinarian visits. Dental disease impacts 80% of dogs by age two, often leading to kidney and heart issues. The list goes on.

Supplementation

Supplementation is a smart choice for animals across the age spectrum to support a whole-health solution. Finding a supplement you trust to contain the right amounts of only the best ingredients at the greatest value is key. At In Clover, we formulate all of our products in-house. We believe in using only the finest ingredients in just the right amounts. We do the research, sourcing and background work that can be overwhelming for the pet parent who wants the best for their fur kid.  Using our foundation of solid science research, our full concentration is making supplements for animals.  This allows us to focus on what is important to you: providing the best supplements at the best value.

The table below shows you how you can get your dog and cat on the highest quality whole-health program for much less than you would imagine. Cost is for a 10-pound cat or 50-pound dog for daily supplementation.

Condition Cost per day Product
Joints & Mobility $0.26 – $0.70 / $0.33 Connectin (canine & feline) / Jump (canine)
Digestive/GI $0.10 – $0.47 OptaGest (canine & feline)
Skin & Coat $0.33 / $0.18 Glow (canine) / Sleek (feline)
Dental $0.33 / $0.18 Grin (canine) / Smile (feline)
Urinary Tract $0.18 Flow (feline)
Weight Control $0.18 Slim (feline)
Respiratory $0.18 Spry (feline)

When to supplement your dog or cat

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

If you take a supplement or two because you care about your health, does it make sense to do the same for your dog or cat? Many pet parents and veterinarians are saying “yes” to functional and issue-targeted supplements. Lisa Sanford of Brandenton Florida is one of those pet parents. “My 13-year-old Catahoula (Boris, now retired from flyball) is acting like a puppy again because of Connectin joint supplement. He brings me toys again to throw for him and springs around. He is my ‘heart’ so this means the world to me!”

The primary categories of pet supplements include those for joint health, skin and coat health, GI tract health, dental health, weight control and UT health. Too often, pet parents think there is nothing they can do when their dog or cat shows signs of a health challenge. But, our pets don’t need to suffer, and discomfort does not have to be a part of the aging process. Supplements go a long way in helping pets feel better and stay healthy and active at all life stages. Even with complete diets, supplements serve an important role in maintaining health and wellness and managing health challenges.

Demand for supplements continues to rise. Simmons Market Research Bureau says approximately 17 percent of pet owners give their cats and dogs some type of supplement. These numbers are growing by more than 15 percent per year.

Four Things To Look For When Selecting a Pet Supplement

To be sure you are providing a high quality supplement for your fur kid, ensure they have these four characteristics and ask questions of your pet supplement manufacturer.

1. Quality. The product displays the NASC quality seal on the label. This shows an attention to quality systems and adherence to adverse event reporting. Manufacturers should also have standard operating procedures, lot numbers that offer full traceability of the product from creation to one year past the “best by” date and a complete catalog of retention samples of every product.

Contact the manufacturer about a product or consistency concern and ask them to compare the retention sample. The answer you get is telling.

2. Thoughtful Development. There is a toll-free phone number on the package and the product developer is available to you or your veterinarian to answer questions.

Ask why particular ingredients were included in the product.

3. Efficacy. The manufacturer should be able to supply scientific evidence to support their supplement.

Ask for white papers or abstracts on the product.

4. Safety. Above all, you want to ensure anything you give to your pet is safe. Supplement producers should adhere to strict policies and practices to do everything in their power to ensure a safe product.

Ask for an overview of your supplement company’s adverse event reporting procedure and all serious adverse events that have been reported on the product.