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The Role of Clinical Trials for Pet Supplements

Clinical trials have transformed the human dietary supplement industry. They went from being a "nice-to-have" to a "must-have" in only a couple of years. The reason? Tightened FTC regulation, but first and foremost, a change in consumer expectations. The modern, educated consumer wants to see proof that the products they spent their hard-earned money on actually work. As the supplement market for pets, like dogs and cats, is growing, we see a stark resemblance to human supplements. After all, humans are buying the supplements also for their furry friends, and they are having the same expectations. Consumers are also looking for research-backed products for their fur babies. But what they don't know is that the barriers to conducting a study on dietary supplements for pets are a lot higher compared to their human counterparts. For example, decentralized clinical trials, or even perception studies, have been absent from the industry. This led to studies with rather questionable sample sizes (like 10-20 dogs in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial). The good thing is that advances in human medicine are slowly but surely also reaching veterinarian medicine. At Citruslabs, we're proud to offer groundbreaking clinical studies for pet supplements, including dogs, cats, and horses. Through telehealth assessments, veterinarians can now take part in pioneering studies targeting common pet health issues, such as digestive health, hip and joint mobility, anxiety, weight management, dermatological conditions, and much more.

A shift toward evidence-based product formulations

Consumers demand pet supplements that are backed by science. This aligns with a broader movement in consumer health & wellness that is asking for transparency AND efficacy. Pet owners are increasingly demanding the same level of scrutiny and evidence for the supplements they give their pets as they do for themselves. As more and more manufacturers and supplement brands from the human world are entering this market, they are compelled to invest in rigorous clinical research.

In fact, a recent Citruslabs pet health report that surveyed over 1,000 individuals revealed that 71% of pet owners feel overwhelmed by pet supplement choices, with 95% prioritizing products validated by scientific research.

Are clinical studies with pets ethical?

We know what you are thinking: you don't want to conduct research ON animals. And we agree! At Citruslabs, we do research WITH animals. It's very important to us to ensure the welfare and ethical treatment of animals during all of our clinical studies. This is why a veterinarian oversees every study we conduct with pets. The dogs, cats, and horses that test the typically commercially available products are staying in the comfort of their own home (or barn) with their owners. We would never keep animals cramped in a kennel. Also, from a study perspective, this might even lead to wrong conclusions.

What study designs do you offer?

Clinical research for pets can draw on the same study designs as their human counterparts. You can choose between...

  • a cost-effective perception study that is also sometimes called a marketing study (in which the pet owners will report what they're seeing in their pets);

  • a single-group study;

  • a gold-standard randomized controlled trial, which can be placebo-controlled, or test your product against a competitor, for example.

All clinical studies involve a veterinarian assessment. For perception studies, this is optional.

Which products do you test?

We can conduct studies on grooming products and supplements for dogs, cats, and horses. The claims that our clients are looking for typically evolve around:

  • Palate testing

  • Joint & hip mobility

  • Dermatological concerns

  • Anxiety & stress

  • Gut health

  • Energy

  • Weight management

The future of clinical trials in the pet industry

Research in the pet industry is continuously evolving, offering exciting prospects for the future of pet products. Here are a few future prospects of how pet research is evolving:

  • Decentralized clinical trials: Utilizing a virtual clinical trial model makes studies for pets more accessible for study participants, vets, and also brands.

  • Telehealth: Integrating tools like telemedicine into virtual research makes these studies robust.

  • Wearable devices: Similar to human fitness trackers, wearable devices for cats and dogs can be a good way to monitor the pet's vital signs, activity levels, step count, and sleep patterns.

The pet health & wellness industry is a couple of years behind the human health & wellness industry. We are seeing significant consumer demand also for pet products to incorporate a science backing. Please contact us HERE if you want to learn more about how you can include clinical research also into your brand.


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