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.

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 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!

Help for Hairballs

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

If you have ever watched your cat wrenching to expel a hairball, or if you have stepped on a hairball in the middle of the night, you have experienced the discomfort of hairballs. Hairballs are known in scientific circles as trichobezoar and are very common in cats, especially in long-haired cats (although they occur with any length of hair). They are more common during warmer seasons and climates.

Studies have shown that cats normally spend as much as one-third of their waking hours cleaning and grooming themselves. Because of the structure of their tongue, a majority of this hair becomes consumed during grooming.

Cat hair is made up of keratin, a type of protein. When the cat is unable to break down and digest the hair, it forms into a hairball in the digestive tract. It is this hairball that causes the discomfort.

OptaGest gets to the root of hairballs with protease, the enzyme that digests proteins. OptaGest works to break down the hair so it can easily pass through the system. With daily use of OptaGest, hairballs will be a thing of the past.

Watch the active enzymes in OptaGest digesting a cup of oatmeal: In Clover Enzyme Test.

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.

Make your dog’s coat to GLOW like an AKC champion

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

This time of year brings dry, itchy skin for our four-legged family members. Combine this with the hectic season, and we are pining for an effective yet easy way to make them more comfortable. Now, help is here in the form of a tasty soft chew called Glow. After more than three years of research, Glow is the first complete solution for skin and coat. Let me take you through my thought process in developing Glow and the four important steps to a comfortable dog and shiny coat…

I started the search for a more effective and easy-to-give skin and coat supplement with the green, sometimes slimy, microscopic plants in the ocean called algae. Algae are the source of omega-3 fatty acids. You may think of adding a squirt of fish oil as the answer to dry skin problems, but it is actually the algae that the fish eat that are the source of the beneficial omega-3s. Depending on the temperatures of the water fished, the contamination levels in the water and the type of fish, the quality of the omega-3 in fish oil varies greatly. The algae, on the other hand, make a very high quality form of omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. DHA is the longest chain omega-3, so it is the form that is easiest for the body to put to use. The algae used for Glow are grown in clean, stainless steel kettles and harvested at just the right time for their pure, consistent DHA content.

We know that even the most pure DHA omega-3s do not get to the root of your dog’s discomfort: itching. For that, we turned to biotin and zinc.  These powerful ingredients add the critical repair step necessary for a sleek and comfortable dog. Electron microscopy of skin cells and hair follicles demonstrate the importance of nourishing the body from the inside out.

The last key ingredient in Glow is the whole fresh egg, shell and all. Egg is called nature’s perfect protein for good reason. Egg provides whole food nourishment with 13 natural vitamins and minerals. Egg also gives Glow the great taste that dogs crave.

With Glow, you can give the four key steps of perfect skin and coat nourishment in one tasty soft chew:

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  2. Biotin
  3. Zinc
  4. Whole Fresh Egg.

Glow soft chews are the easy way to get your dog soft, shiny and comfortable like a show dog.

Traveling with your pet

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

Ahhh, summertime, and a pet parent’s thoughts turn to “who is going to take care of my fur baby while I am on vacation?” Or, if you are the lucky sort who can travel with your pet, “how will I deal with the stress that goes along with travel?”

Travel, separation and kenneling can be stressful on you and your pet and that stress often affects your pet’s digestive system. Having an upset stomach away from home can lead to a messy situation. But there is help.

A dog and cat’s digestive tract is shorter than a person’s. Food moves quickly through and is often not completely digested. There are many things that complicate digestion and the stress of summer is one of them. Here is where a complete digestive supplement will make for a healthier pet and help avoid a messy and uncomfortable situation. Complete digestive supplements provide the enzymes necessary to absorb the nutrients in the food and feed the good bacteria in the digestive tract, which gets rid of the toxin making organisms that can live in a dog or cat’s intestine.

Here are some cues that your dog or cat could use a digestive supplement:

  • We are going through a stressful time, such as travel, kenneling, separation.
  • I have made a food change.
  • My pet is on antibiotics.
  • Gas, diarrhea or constipation are problems.
  • My cat has hairballs.
  • My pet is over 6 years old.
  • I feed kibble or wet food.

If you answered yes to one or more of these, it is time to consider a digestive supplement. As a scientist and dog and cat mom, I look at just three important parameters:

  1.  Plant based digestive enzymes.
    • Plant based enzymes work from the tongue to the tail
    • The key enzymes include Protease to break down the protein in the diet, Amylase breaks down starch, Lipase breaks down fats, such as Omega-3s, and Cellulase breaks down plant fibers.
  2. Clinically tested levels of prebiotics.
    • Prebiotics are the food for the good bacterial that are NATURALLY in your pet’s digestive system. Clinically tested levels of prebiotic (700 mg per cup of food) will selectively feed the good bacteria. It is more specific to healing than feeding a probiotic which is an actual, often dairy strain, bacteria.
  3. No dairy, sugars, grains.
    • These are extras that are not part of what the supplement does to help the digestive process and may even cause unwanted complications.

Sounds pretty simple but what a powerful wellness tool you are giving your pet when you think about the fact that at least 70% of the immune system is housed in the digestive tract.  A pet with a healthy digestive tract will be able to face the car, hotel, kennel or pet sitter with a happy, comfortable tummy and a healthier system over all. Watch how digestive enzymes work in this fun oatmeal test video.

The In Clover Story

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

“In Clover” ~ an old English idiom: Living a carefree life of ease, comfort, or prosperity, having good fortune; in a very good situation. 

In Clover seemed the perfect name for the journey I was about to embark sixteen years ago to create a company around making dogs, cats and horses more comfortable.

After being immersed in researching and discovering why some women could have less-than-healthy lifestyles and stay healthy, I turned my attention and that same question to dogs and cats. Why are some dogs huge athletes with crazy jumps and rolls, yet their hips remain as healthy and flexible as a puppies?

Several years of research resulted in a one-of-a-kind mix of 9 herbs and the 3 joint building blocks that make Connectin joint supplement for dogs and cats. Connectin puts back what the body would make if it was healthy. A University clinical study with dogs and the humans they own showed that Connectin gives back better mobility and weight bearing in as little as 15 days.

In Clover answers the question of how we can make the body work better and has created a line of supplements to address the top health concerns of our furry kids.

Give your dog the gift of Grin

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80 percent of dogs develop gum disease by the age of three years. Common signs of poor oral health include bad breath, excessive drooling, loss of appetite due to oral discomfort, and teeth discolored by tarter build-up. Bad breath is often the most obvious sign, and products with natural breath-freshening ingredients, such as anise and chlorophyll, can improve that condition. However pet parents can help their beloved companions enjoy optimal dental health by focusing on the cause of Fido’s offensive smells, in addition to relieving the more noticeable symptoms.

Keeping your dog’s teeth clean from plaque build-up plays an important role optimal dental health. Chewing is a natural form of tooth cleaning and most dental health products available for dogs are based solely on the abrasive action of chewing something. Having dogs chew a product that holds together well enough to clean the entire tooth can help prevent dental problems. Newer, chewier formats are beginning to emerge to do this, as well as allow active ingredients to adhere to the teeth and go to work.

In addition to chewing, more complete dental products add active ingredients to go to work on what causes poor oral health in dogs. One such natural ingredient is green tea. Research from the past decade has demonstrated that a number of substances in green tea can support tarter reduction in multiple ways. Green tea has been shown to kill the bacteria that cause dental caries, inhibit the activity of the bacteria that live below the gumline, and block the attachment of germs to the teeth. Polyphenols in green tea have anti-inflammatory properties, so they reduce gum disease, also known as gingivitis. Finally, green tea helps fight off the erosion of tooth enamel.

Keeping your dog’s breath fresher starts on the inside. Poor digestion can often be a factor leading to bad breath. A natural ingredient pet parents will find in more complete dental products is the digestive aid FOS (fructooligosaccharide). FOS is a prebiotic that feeds the naturally-occurring bacteria of the dog’s digestive tract, helping to relieve bad breath. FOS is found in some digestive aids for pets.

Pet parents have a number of tools to help their companions maintain good oral health as he or she ages. Breath freshening, chewing, tarter-control, and digestive support will all contribute to healthier teeth and gums. In addition, kisses from your pet will smell much better!

Grin dental health soft chews are available at your favorite independent pet store and include chlorophyll, anise, green tea and FOS in a chewy format.

Pet health insurance: Can it help me? At what cost? 5 questions to ask.

This is the second of the two-part pet health insurance series.

Written by Lea Jaratz with Embrace Pet Insurance

Vet bills are much more expensive than many people think, having grown twice as fast as that of our pay checks. The increased costs have come about because vets can now help pets in ways they simply could not before and the cost of veterinary drugs is increasing rapidly, with human drugs now being used for pets. Any unexpected illness or accident could put you under financial strain unless you have pet insurance.

Pet insurance pays a portion of your vet bills when your cat or dog is sick or gets in an accident. Typically, you pay the vet bill and the insurance company reimburses you a portion of your costs. Pet insurance policies have the usual deductibles, maximums, and copays and policies and often do not cover all treatments your pet might get, such as routine care or transplants. Premiums are approximately $30-40 per month for middle-of-the-range coverage and you can buy it on the internet or over the phone.

As you might expect with a product like this, you cannot decide on price alone, so arm yourself with good information to help you choose the insurance policy that is best for you and your pet.

What are the most important things when buying pet insurance?

There are a lot of questions you’ll want to ask when shopping around for pet insurance coverage.

  • What are the deductibles, copays, and maximums and how are they calculated?
  • Will my premiums increase based on the pet’s age or with veterinary care inflation. What can I expect them to look like as my pet ages.
  • Are there exclusions based on breed or hereditary conditions.
  • For illnesses or accidents my pet has had previously, will they be covered going forward or not?
  • If my pet gets any new conditions while I have this insurance, will she be covered by the insurance for the remainder of her life?

A current listing of pet insurance companies can be found at Embrace CEO Laura’s blog.

Is pet insurance a good deal for you?

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

My rescue pup Floyd is a bit of a delicate flower.  I would do anything for Floyd’s health and wellbeing.  However, I do not have any information about his roots or how he was cared for before he joined our family.  This led me to research pet insurance, something I have not looked at before. To learn more, I went straight to the expert at Embrace Pet Insurance.  I like Embrace for a lot of reasons, including their practice of paying for alternative therapies as an adjunct to conventional veterinary medicine or as an alternative; the choice is up to their clients and their veterinarian. That resonates with me. This two-part series helps determine if you are a good candidate for insurance and what questions to ask.

The following is written by Lea Jaratz with Embrace Pet Insurance

If you have looked into insuring your pet, you will know that comparing pet insurance companies is an overwhelming task. Pet insurance is probably the least understood personal insurance product, but it’s also one of the most emotional financial decisions you can make. It’s important to understand all differences between the several companies offering coverage, so that you make an informed decision.

What is pet insurance?

In exchange for your premium, pet insurance reimburses a portion of your vet bills when your cat or dog is sick or gets in an accident. Pet insurance is in many respects like our own health insurance with deductibles, maximums, and co-pays, except that you can use any vet, as the insurance company reimburses you directly. All pet insurance companies have some exclusions, such as routine care or pre-existing conditions, so be sure to ask lots of questions before you buy.

Why should I get pet insurance?

Even long-time pet owners can be surprised by how much a sudden vet bill can cost. If you’re faced with an unexpected surgery or treatment for your pet, you might be shocked by how quickly the charges can add up. Furthermore, veterinary inflation is rising even more quickly than the standard inflation rate.

This spike in vet costs comes with the advancing treatments that are now available for our pets. A pet diagnosed with cancer would have had far fewer options than a pet today. Chemotherapy, surgery, and long-term care have since replaced the grim alternatives. Human medications are now being made available for pet care, too. But with the increased care come increased costs.

Is pet insurance for me?

Pet insurance is not for everyone. Consider this: Are you the sort of pet parent that would take a second job, a second mortgage, or go without a vacation, just so that you could pay your pet’s medical bills? Many people would opt to have their pet put to sleep at the first sign of a big bill, but then there are those pet parents that go to real extremes to make sure their pet gets the best treatment possible.

Some might say that instead of insurance you could budget a few dollars every week into savings, and then have a safety net if something should come up-but how many of us would actually put that money aside? And what if something comes up before your savings is sufficient, or what if there are two major events within a short timeframe?  Even something that is not life threatening can be costly. A dog’s broken leg could rack up $1,000 bill pretty quickly, so even one major event could wipe out savings quickly.

NEXT WEEK: What to ask and how much it costs.

What non-food item is your dog or cat trying to eat?

By: Rebecca Rose, In Clover founder and product developer

I heard the sound of a pan sliding on a tile floor, I quickly looked down to my side. Just as I thought, nothing there. My constant companion, a slightly overweight Golden named Floyd, was gone. Let me first explain that Floyd has always been what you might call willowy or delicate. On frequent trips to the open space, he is typically greeted with “what a pretty girl!” and he beams. A few months ago, Floyd hit middle age and his girlish figure disappeared seemingly overnight. A complete vet work up showed a very healthy dog and a recommendation for dieting.

When I heard that telltale sound of the cat food bowl scraping across the floor, I knew that Floyd had fallen to the temptation. I called his name, heard his head go up, tags jingle and then watched him avoid my gaze as he walked up the stairs and past me to the back door… with the handle of the cat food spoon protruding 4 inches out of his mouth. He obediently handed over the (compostable) spoon but not before I had the entire family gather around to see what he has stooped to. No harm, no foul with this episode but, according to Embrace Pet Insurance, gastrointestinal claims rank in the top 5 by number. See the most common items swallowed by dogs and cats.

With portion control of a very good dog food and more exercise, Floyd is watching his waistline return.  His digestive system is kept healthy with OptaGest digestive supplement and a gate around the cat food and accompanying utensils.

What has your dog or cat gotten into lately?

Is your cat at risk for heat stroke? Tips to prevent it.

By: Karen Taylor

Meet the wild sand cat. This hardy species of feline lives in some of the world’s harshest desert terrains.  This kitty beats the heat by burrowing by day and hunting at night. With water scarce, they rely on moisture from their prey. We supply the habitat and prey for our domestic feline friends, so it’s our job to keep them safe when temperatures rise. Heat stroke in cats is less common than in dogs, but they are not immune. Warning signs (listed in order of progression) include fast and frantic noisy breathing, a bright red tongue or gums, vomiting, unsteady walking/staggering, diarrhea, pale blue or gray lips. If these signs are ignored, and nothing is done to lower the cats body temperature, coma and death are real possibilities.

Short-nosed cats, long-haired cats and cats that have breathing or heart conditions are especially susceptible to heat stroke.  If heat stroke is suspected, apply cooling first aid by wetting your cat’s coat (wrap in a wet towel, gently wet them down in a sink, or use what you have available if outdoors) and get your cat to your vet or emergency vet ASAP!

Avoid the risk of heat stroke by keeping kitties indoors on hot days, providing them with cool spots to “burrow” and plenty of water.   Cats vary in how much water they drink, so consider your cat’s diet as well; how much moisture is in your cat’s food?  Proper hydration is always important to overall health, and dehydration increases the risk of heat stroke.

Keep cats out of cars, and help them avoid mishaps like being locked in garages or sheds that turn into solar collectors when temperatures rise!  If transporting a kitty in a crate, make sure there is ample ventilation and water to keep your cat comfortable and healthy.  Keep them out of direct sun and travel when temperatures are cooler.

Take a lesson from savvy desert cats to help your less-wild kitties not only survive, but continue to thrive during the heat of summer!