SSupplements for pets have become as common as humans taking their daily multivitamins. Both dogs and cats can benefit greatly from a supplement that can do it all: relieve stress, improve skin and coat health, treat existing ailments, and help prevent future health problems.
As the trend of using supplements for pets continues to grow, parents of pets are spending a lot of time and energy researching these products. With this commitment, more and more pet parents want to know the science used to create the supplements that they hope will protect their pets.
For a category as dynamic as pet supplements, manufacturers are constantly innovating, investing in research, and conducting trials. By taking an in-depth look at ingredients and processes, the leaders of these brands are breaking new ground in supplements. According to Amanda Howland, co-founder and commercial director of ElleVet Sciences, the company is still exploring the potential of its products.
“We believe science is a crucial part of a good supplement and we are trying to change the supplement industry for the better by supporting every product, every strength and species-specific scientific evidence,” Howland explains. “We are constantly innovating and asking ‘How can we improve this product?’ “What have we learned from our clinical trials that can be applied to current products to improve them? And “How can we use this information to innovate new products to help all pets?” “”
When creating supplements, brands and manufacturers are responsible for ordering the appropriate studies on their products. When deciding which supplements to stock, retailers should ask brands and manufacturers for the scientific literature to prove their claims.
“A lot of companies will say they have a study, but it might not be a scientific study, so you have to ask to see the document,” Howland explains. “For customers, it’s essential for trust. If a retailer can say, “This product works, I trust this company because they have done clinical trials and have proof that over 80% of dogs have had a positive response,” then that shows the customer that they are can also trust the product. “
Once pet parents can see that a product is trustworthy, they will research the right supplement for their pets’ specific needs. Not all supplements are created equal, and they shouldn’t be, as different formulations are expected to be effective in treating particular problems and achieving specific health goals for animals. For example, pets at different stages of their lives have different nutritional needs, and the right supplements can help support an animal’s growth at each stage.
“We’re seeing a lot of innovation around pet supplements for specific life stages (like specific products for young and old pets) as well as scientific formulations and concepts, which are similar concepts to human nutrition and human supplements, ”said Bill Lowe, president of North America for Hofseth BioCare.
Despite the importance of providing extra nutrition for pets that need extra support to stay healthy, Lowe stresses that supplements cannot provide pets with all the nutrition they need.
“I think it’s important to remember that supplements are just that – supplements – to an existing balanced diet,” Lowe explains. “Therefore, safety is of the utmost importance. Providing pets with human grade nutrition without negative side effects when properly dosed, while simultaneously delivering scientific back health benefits is the most important factor for pet owners.
Building the best supplements
Of course, while it’s essential to have the right, high-quality ingredients in supplements, it’s also imperative to understand the amount of nutrients a pet retains as they travel through their digestive system. For Geoff Hamby, director of marketing at Vetericyn Animal Wellness, making sure a product is used in the body as intended is crucial for a quality product.
He notes that passive diffusion absorption is a process that could leave behind the valuable formulations through which a product is made. A partnership with medical microbiologist and immunologist AS Narain Naidu, PhD, FACN, FLS, has led the company to focus on bioactive molecules
“This is a slow process where the ingredients stay in the gut until the molecules can move around inside the body,” says Hamby. “The problem is not that all molecules can be absorbed this way, which means they pass off more like garbage. There’s no mechanism to help the dog’s body process all of these great ingredients, so it just ends up on the lawn … like very expensive poo.
“[We are using] endocytosis, more commonly known as active transport, to move nutrients through the dog’s body and deliver them to cells so that they can be absorbed.
Of course, even after the development of effective products, companies want to continue improving existing science. Debra Decker, director of marketing for Pet King Brands, Inc., reveals that there has been progress towards improving important alternatives to traditional treatments.
“Some of the latest innovations behind the science of pet supplements include the use of antimicrobial enzymes in place of antibiotics,” Decker explains. “The story of this technology is not new, but it is growing due to the need to reduce the use of antibiotics in human and animal medicine. Enzymes are found in all living things and are natural proteins that increase the speed of chemical reactions.
This science is paving the way for more and more options for pet parents looking for new ways to care for their pets. As health challenges evolve and new barriers emerge in pet health care, innovative approaches are needed to create different solutions, Decker explains.
“There are many different types of enzymes, and each has specific roles … Unlike antibiotics, they are selective and only target single-celled organisms and do not disrupt normal flora or affect healthy tissue,” Decker reveals . “Bacterial resistance to an antimicrobial enzyme is also very rare. “
As brands identify formulations that address specific issues, they will become trusted sources for pet parents. Retailers who invest in learning the science behind these brands will position themselves ahead of the curve.
By identifying the needs of pets, retailers can work with supplement manufacturers to identify the latest innovations in supplement science. Parents of pets looking for new solutions to their pet’s health concerns will be relieved to find that their retailers have worked alongside brands to offer the latest formulations.
“Education plays a critical role because the more the retailer is the trusted expert for their customers, the more they need to be well trained on the technology and its benefits in order to be able to share this knowledge with their customers,” says Hamby.
“Blogs, social media, and in-store classes are all great ways for retailers to educate themselves and their customers about the supplement and its impact on dog health. “ PB