In light of the ongoing demand for human health and nutrition products, pet parents continue to seek comparable options for their animal counterparts. Yet, currently, different standards for pet supplement testing exist, as well as for the ingredients and regulation (the latter of which is sometimes nonexistent). However, pet nutrition brand holders can align with best practices and go the extra mile to connect with consumers. The free Pet Food & Animal Nutrition 2.0 “The Science of Supplements" Digital Issue explores these topics.
In their article, “In Vitro, Preclinical and Clinical Trials for New Supplement Innovations," Dan DuBourdieu, Ph.D., and Ajay Srivastava, D.V.M., Ph.D., with Vets Plus Inc., discussed how clinical trials allow research teams to determine the full effect of a new product formulation. Clinical trials are not required for supplements as they are for veterinary pharmaceuticals. In fact, pet supplement products can be successfully launched based on existing evidence in published literature or in vitro analysis. However, according to the authors, clinical trials help a research team determine the full effect of a new product formulation. Through preclinical and clinical trials, manufacturers can explore new ingredient combinations and delivery systems to better meet the changing needs of pets.
According to DuBourdieu and Srivastava, preclinical and stability trials can begin around the same time as the product development process. Shelf-life testing should also be performed to determine the length of time the active ingredients can remain viable when stored. Developing the right formula for pets may require multiple rounds of testing to achieve an ideal combination. When satisfied with the lab results, animal trials in the target species can begin. This is a two-step process, with palatability studies followed by clinical trials. A product with high compliance can then move to a clinical trial phase. Finally, after the trial is complete, the research team can analyze the results.
Also in the issue is the article “Regulatory Considerations for Animal Supplements in North America," by Bill Bookout of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC). According to Bookout, under current law in the United States, only two legal categories exist for animal products: animal food/feed and animal drugs. In light of the oversight to include regulation of animal nutrition supplements with legislation on the human side, an unprecedented industry coalition, NASC, helped the pet supplement category survive and thrive. Among the nonprofit industry trade association’s objectives is to “evaluate, define and implement guidelines which are fair, reasonable, responsible and nationally consistent." According to Bookout, this system of industry-driven self-regulation can provide a platform for a long-term solution. NASC, along with its member companies and preferred suppliers, is driving and funding the solutions that apply to the entire industry. NASC’s mission is to continue to implement and refine a program of responsible self-regulation.
Supplement insight also comes in “Bridging the Gap between Supplement Manufacturers and Pet Parents," by Aimee Johnson, D.V.M., of Creature Comforts Animal Hospital. She encouraged brand holders to ensure supplements are in readily absorbable forms, adding that a product must also be easy to administer and palatable to the animal. Johnson encouraged manufacturers to lean toward a flavored chew tab or a liquid form for pets. Additionally, making sure that all the ingredients are easily digested and absorbed is essential. Consumers will also want to see a product label that guarantees the product has been tested and proven effective. It is important to be transparent with the product and only sell those of high quality, Johnson concluded.
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