One morning in the early fall of 2020, I went to my local pet store. I was looking to get him a new collar. While walking around the store, I noticed a display with a line of veterinary supplements. The concept of a veterinary supplement caught my attention since I am very passionate about the research, formulation, and manufacturing of plant-based nutraceuticals and functional foods for humans. The bags looked pretty, but I left the store without buying anything and forgot about it.
A couple of days later, Blaze and I were walking on Soames Hill Park, a tiny park around the corner of my old home, when I started thinking about the bags of supplements. What exactly was in those bags? Why would a dog need a supplement?
I know perfectly well that we humans can benefit enormously from the many unique biological compounds present in specific plants and animals when looking to alleviate common health problems and minor discomforts.
We have likely done so for tens of thousands of years.
Nonetheless, since our modern lifestyle makes it very difficult to collect or process the plants and remedies needed to assist our bodies when feeling under the weather, many of us take functional supplements before starting with pharmaceutical medication.
Current veterinary research suggests that many dogs certainly do, just like humans. This is because, just like humans, dogs that don't have a diet rich in unprocessed plant and animal products may have less than an ideal intake of complex biological compounds such as fatty acids, antioxidants, precursors of complex amino acids, probiotics, and specific vitamins.
This is especially true for aging dogs that, similarly to aging humans, may start showing age-related changes in their normal range of motion and stiffer joints, become less tolerant to unexpected noises, people, or other dogs, having irregular sleep patterns, and even changes in brain health and function.
I went back to the store I visited earlier and bought two bags of different products. I checked out many brands and formats on the shelves. I was quite surprised by what I saw.
The product developer and formulator side of my brain went into overdrive once I got back home: Do they need to add all these fillers, gums, colours, and sugars? Are these health claims correct or even legal? Some of these supplements, especially those sold over the internet, lacked the Veterinary Health Product official designation from Health Canada and even suggested the products could cure or treat the type of diseases you should take your dog to the vet for. I also noticed that, although some of these products were advertised for senior dogs, they were not well-thought-out. They didn't take into consideration the specific needs of some aging dogs, such as problems chewing hard kibble or gummies (gummies?! Why would anyone create a health product using sugar and gelatine as a delivery format?). I also noticed many of the high-end products were not made in Canada, which means some of them are likely not compliant with Health Canada regulations, have an enormous carbon footprint associated with transport and logistics, and were not supporting local economies. I am not even mentioning the fact that many were packed in the type of metal laminated plastic pouch that can not be easily recycled outside large cities.
The following morning Blaze and I went for a hike to a different trail. Blaze was goofing around in front of me when it hit me: there is a real need for properly researched, formulated, and manufactured veterinary supplements focused on serving the specific needs of aging dogs: a line of products on a mission to help aging dogs and their human to keep sharing time in the outdoors, just like Blaze and I were doing once again that morning.
As soon as we were back home, I started creating a list of all the things I would love to have seen in those products, but that were not there: a formulation including complex ingredients known to help senior dogs to maintain their everyday health and organ function with health claims approved by and compliant with Health Canada regulations and based on actual veterinary research. A product in powder form that allows senior dogs with dental and gum problems or reduced appetite to ingest them without pain or fuss. An ingredient list with no gums, fillers, colours, or sugars. Made in Canada by a Canadian-owned and operated company following the highest manufacturing standard (called cGMP). Packaging that is fully certified home compostable (meaning it can be composted together with your food scraps at home rather than in an industrial facility) with a label printed using soy-based inks, that could be sent to customers with no secondary packaging using a mailer that is also fully home compostable ... and the list just kept growing.After a year navigating a ridiculously long, complicated list of challenges, Hike Again Remedies was born and launch to fulfill a single promise: To help you and your aging dog to keep enjoying an active lifestyle in the outdoors, together.