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How to decode pet supplement labels

When you take a close look at the ingredients on pet supplement labels, it can be confusing to say the least.

Why might you want Green Lipped Mussels from New Zealand? Is fish oil better for dogs than cod liver oil? Is vegetarian glucosamine as good as glucosamine extracted from shellfish? And how many types of hyaluronic acid can there possibly be?

Getting the inside scoop from YuMOVE

Luckily, at YuMOVE, we have an expert on hand to explain. Ann Haigh, our Research and Development Lead, is a qualified vet who knows our supplements inside out and can detect the best ingredients at 20 paces.

“I came to work for YuMOVE because I’m a bit of a detective,” explains Ann. “I’m interested in the science behind the products and have a real passion for creating supplements that make a measurable difference to dogs.”

The right source of Green Lipped Mussel

Green Lipped Mussel

If you and your dog are fans of YuMOVE Joint Care, you’ll know all about Green Lipped Mussels. They’re the magical active ingredients that contain high concentrations of Omega oils and other fatty acids, helping to soothe your dog’s stiff joints and keep them mobile as they run, jump and play.

“You might see ‘Green Lipped Mussel’ listed on the labels of two similar supplements,” says Ann. “However, although the description on the label is identical, the raw materials inside the supplements could be very different.”

“At YuMOVE, we’re extremely particular about which source of Green Lipped Mussel we use. Our source only comes from the very best mussel farmers in New Zealand. Then we use a unique extraction process which produces a concentration of over 20% of the all-important Omega 3 oils. This compares with just 4.9% in standard freeze-dried Green Lipped Mussel extract.”

“Some pet supplement companies even use defatted mussels which contain no fatty acids at all. The cost is much lower, but they contain no active ingredients.”

When you buy YuMOVE Joint Care, the difference for your dog is a higher concentration of Omega 3 oils, which produces a more effective supplement. Altogether more bounce to the ounce

Vitamin E: natural is best

While we’re on the subject of Green Lipped Mussels, did you know that Omega 3 supplements must contain Vitamin E as well?

“This is why it’s always important to think about the science behind the products,” says Ann. “If you don’t add Vitamin E to an Omega 3 supplement, it can deplete the dog’s own stores of Vitamin E.”

“What’s more, it needs to be a particular type of Vitamin E. There are two kinds: d-alpha-tocopherol – which is natural - and dl-alpha-tocopherol – which is synthetic. We use d-alpha-tocopherol in YuMOVE as it’s a natural form of the vitamin derived from vegetable oil which is easier for your dog’s body to absorb.”

Hyaluronic acid: reaching the parts other supplements can’t reach

If you look closely at the label of your skincare products, you’re very likely to see hyaluronic acid, which is hailed as a hydration hero. It’s also extremely popular in pet care supplements, where it works as a shock absorber to cushion your dog’s joints.

As with every other ingredient in pet supplements, though, all types of hyaluronic acid are not created equal.

“Not every kind of hyaluronic acid actually reaches dogs’ joints,” says Ann. “So although a supplement may say that it contains the ingredient, it might have little or no effect on helping to soothe your dog’s stiff joints.”

“For YuMOVE, we researched scientific articles to find out which types of hyaluronic acid work best for dogs and which are most effective. We discovered that there’s a specific type that is proven to be absorbed by dogs and to migrate to the joints in two hours. So we sourced the precise hyaluronic acid molecule used in the clinical study directly from the manufacturer.”

Sourcing vegetarian glucosamine

YuMOVE tablets

If you’re giving your dog a supplement to help support their joints, glucosamine is one ingredient that’s likely to leap out from the label.

Glucosamine is found naturally in the bodies of younger dogs, where it helps maintain and support their cartilage, but our canine friends produce less of it as they get older.

“Once again, with glucosamine, it’s a question of looking into the science to find the type that has the best possible effect for dogs,” says Ann. “Often, it’s sourced by crushing shellfish and extracting the glucosamine from the shells

“However, there’s a risk of this type of glucosamine containing contaminants such as heavy metals. We prefer to use a vegetarian glucosamine that’s extracted from corn, as it’s a purer source which we think is better for dogs.”

Picky? Us?

You could say that we’re picky about the ingredients we use for all of our supplements. But we’re fanatical about only choosing ingredients that have a sound scientific basis, are ethically sourced and of the highest quality. For us, there’s no point listing an ingredient on a label unless we’re 100% sure that it’s the best, most effective ingredient we can possibly find.

How to choose the right pet supplement

Ann acknowledges that it’s difficult for dog lovers to know which supplements are best because the industry is unregulated. “Anyone can start selling pet supplements,” she says. “In the US, they have the National Animal Supplements Council, which we belong to, but there’s no similar organisation in Europe.”

So how can you choose the right supplement company? Ann suggests doing a bit of detective work of your own.

  1. Make sure you choose a product specifically designed for dogs. Some healthcare companies take human supplements, tweak them slightly and rebrand them for animals. In this case, you would need to watch out for ingredients that could be harmful for dogs, such as xylitol or potassium chloride. To give another example, we don’t recommend giving supplements including cod liver oil to dogs as it can be high in Vitamin A and heavy metals. For YuMOVE, we prefer to use fish oils that come from the muscle of the fish, not the liver.
  2. Call the company’s customer service team. The kind of response you get will tell you a huge amount. Are they knowledgeable about the products? Can they tell you about the quality of the ingredients they use and where they’re sourced? Can they give you advice on what kind of supplement is best for your dog? Great companies tend to have great customer service teams who are friendly, well-informed and able to offer you specific recommendations.
  3. Check the company’s reviews for evidence that their supplements are making a difference for pets. These are real reviews from real people, and you’ll quickly get an idea of whether people are raving about the product or wish they hadn’t wasted their money.

We’re always here at the end of the phone or email to give you advice. If you’d like to know more about any of our ingredients, or want suggestions on the best supplement for your dog, please do get in touch by calling 01462 416866 or emailing us at We’d love to hear from you.

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