7 Questions to Ask When Picking a Joint Supplement

Rebecca Rose, InClover Research 

When I founded InClover I had just completed a global research project we called the holy grail of women’s health. We discovered a type of bacteria that could keep women healthy, if only we could get them to grow in the body. Sounds easy, right? Of course, it was hard. The body is complex and unique. I learned that we must understand the physiology (noun: the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions) of the body we are trying to get healthy in order to develop an effective solution. This nugget of knowledge is the foundation of InClover and how all our products, including Connectin, are developed.  

Joint supplements are the largest segment of the $1 Billion supplement market. Over 25% of dogs and 25% of cats would benefit from joint supplementation. These big numbers attract many companies to the joint supplement market. Helping those animals is tricky. To have a complete joint supplement, one that works and provides just what the body needs, you must develop the formulation using a holistic approach with an understanding of how the animal’s physiology is impacting the joint. This is a very different approach from contracting with a outside manufacturer to come up with a product or worse, googling what ingredients are selling and mixing them together.  These approaches yield products that are on the market right now. It is tough to know what to look for in a quality joint supplement. Skip to the end to get a list of the 7 important questions to ask. Continue reading to learn more about how Connectin was developed.  

For Connectin Joint Supplement we took this holistic and physiological approach. Let’s look at our 5-year journey to creating Connectin. We first researched the physiology of an animal’s joint, how their body converts nutrients into the joint building blocks that keep the joint comfortable and moving smoothly. And, what is preventing those building blocks from being delivered into the joint. In looking at herbs that are both powerful and gentle to create a delivery system we only considered GRAS herbs, those that have met Generally Recognized as Safe standards. Once satisfied that the formulation is natural to the body and GRAS, we started our Proof of Concept studies with Connectin. These trials invited pet parents to bring their animals to veterinarians and be a part of a study to compare Connectin to a placebo. The veterinarians and the pet parents observed the animals and answered a variety of questions including changes in range of motion, crepitus and mobility. Neither the pet parent nor the veterinarian knew if the animal was getting Connectin or a placebo. This allowed them to answer honestly with no expectation of results. Connectin significantly showed positive results compared to the placebo. We also analyzed blood work from each group of animals and confirmed no change in kidney and liver function. We then worked with the global leader in veterinary clinical testing, Massey University, to invite pet parents to bring their animals to research veterinarians for a longer and more quantitative test of Connectin compared to a placebo. All pets accepted into the study were diagnosed with joint disorder through radiographic testing. The researchers used gold standard force plate testing to measure how much force, or weight, the animal was able to put on each joint before and after being included in the trial. Additionally, all animals received full blood chemistry analyses. At the end of 60 days the results were sent to Colorado State University and unblinded. The statisticians determined that the animals on Connectin showed statistically significant improvement in the ability to bear weight and range of motion as compared to the placebo.  The blood chemistry safety testing showed no difference when compared with a placebo.  

Through clinical trials we learned that Connectin works fast, in average 15 days. We also discovered that improvement was seen in the contralateral joint- the one across from the one that was diagnosed with joint disorder. And, we discovered that Connectin did not cause any issues in blood chemistry results as compared to the placebo. Connectin is so unique we have three issued patents on the product; Connectin Patent. 

The combination of joint physiology, GRAS ingredients, complete formulation, product testing and blood testing allowed us to develop a one of a kind joint supplement that you can feel good about using and recommending.

 

7 Questions To Ask When Picking a Joint Supplement 

  1. Was the physiology of the animal used to develop the supplement, explain how?  
  2. Is the supplement complete, explain how?  
  3. Are the ingredients GRAS?  
  4. Did the supplement undergo Proof of Concept Testing? What results were seen compared with a placebo?  
  5. Did the supplement undergo Force Plate Testing? What results were seen compared with a placebo? 
  6. Did blood chemistry results show no change compared with a placebo?   
  7. Is the supplement shown to work fast? What do the results show compared with a placebo?

 

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.

InClover remains ahead of industry demands

In 1999, InClover’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.

InClover 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 InClover’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 InClover

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 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.

Joint discomfort comes with 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 an herbal delivery system containing 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, InClover 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 InClover, 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)