EDEN PRAIRIE, MINN. — Zinpro Corporation, a leading supplier of Performance Minerals® for the companion animal nutrition market, shared the results of a full canine trial the company commissioned to look at the impact of different trace mineral sources on skin and coat health in senior dogs. The objective of the study was to look primarily at the effects on skin and coat health from chelated trace minerals versus inorganic sources of trace minerals. The study found that Zinpro’s chelated trace minerals provided measurable positive benefits to the dogs in the study that were not achieved in the dogs consuming a diet containing inorganic trace minerals.

The study, completed in fall 2020, lasted 12 weeks and included 46 senior dogs ranging in age from 7 years to 14 years with an average age of 9.8 years. Breeds included in the study were Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Rottweilers, and the treatment groups had equal representation of each to ensure no effect from breed, age or sex.

In addition to skin and coat health, the study also looked at hair growth, activity levels, body weight and body condition. The study included fecal testing and looked at potential changes in the fecal microbiome.

“We wanted to have a study that really focused on the improvement in the physical and aesthetic appearance of senior dogs [when fed with Zinpro Performance Minerals],” said Brent Kirn, pet specialist for Zinpro. “Typically, senior dogs have rough coats, lose hair, graying of the face, fading of the coat color and suffer physical changes to their skin. As canines age, their skin becomes drier, there is more dander, flaking, dermatosis and inflammation, as well as changes to the nose and foot pads. In looking at all those changes [common to senior dogs], this study showed [Zinpro trace minerals’] positive effect in all of these areas.”

Previous peer-reviewed research Zinpro has conducted across a range of species was the foundational reason for this senior canine study.

“As we age and as our pets age, we see physical changes in appearance and mobility and with what we’ve seen in other species,” said Dana Tomlinson, Ph.D., research nutritionist for Zinpro. “We were very confident that Zinpro chelated minerals would improve these geriatric changes far more than the common, inorganic trace minerals that are commonly included in pet foods today. We’ve observed numerous veterinary schools demonstrating Zinpro mineral efficacy simply by changing trace mineral source, so that was the foundation to this study. We wanted to look at it with the knowledge that our previous studies with Zinpro minerals have shown an improvement in coat quality, fur density and hair silkiness, which is important in dogs and in cats. We all want our pets to look better and feel better.”

The dogs in the study were fed a standard commercial dry kibble dog food. The only variable in the three diets fed was the trace mineral source premix, either a standard, inorganic trace mineral package or one that contained the Zinpro Availa® or Zinpro ProPath® chelated trace mineral packages. From a fortification standpoint, all three diets met or exceeded Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) levels for supplementation.

“Across the board, the sulfate and Zinpro supplements were nearly identical in all minerals supplemented, so it’s truly not a level response — meaning a response to different levels of supplemental minerals — it’s a source response… a response to the different type of mineral sources used,” Tomlinson explained.

The set of images on the left depicts a 12-year-old chocolate lab that received Zinpro ProPath trace minerals during the study. The set of images on the right depicts a 10-year-old chocolate lab that received sulfate forms of trace minerals for the same 90-day study. Note the marked change in coat color, texture and sheen with ProPath minerals versus much less change in these metrics with sulfates. (Image explanation by Dana Tomlinson, Ph.D.)

The study employed a variety of non-traditional tools to measure results including FitbarksTM to measure activity level; Kinovea software to evaluate dog locomotion and movement; human hair analysis parameters to evaluate hair shaft thickness, tensile strength, sheen and hair color using CIELAB color variation analysis; and a Dermalab Skin Analysis, used in the human personal care industry, to measure skin elasticity on the dogs’ abdomen and thickness of the foot pads.

The senior dogs in this trial that consumed diets containing Zinpro chelated trace minerals showed a measurable visual difference in coat texture, coat color, reduction in shedding, foot pad and nose integrity improvement and increased activity level.

According to Zinpro, trace mineral complexes are as close to the form a pet would naturally consume as meat or other natural food sources. Inorganic minerals are mined from the ground and smelted via a cooking process for handling purposes.

“Inorganic sources are not really the form our pets have evolved to consume,” Tomlinson said. “What our pet food industry tends to do is say, ‘OK, those aren’t perfect but they’re economical, so the solution is to feed more of them.’ It’s the age-old adage that if a little is good, more is better, which is not always the case. When minerals are fed at the right level from a quality source, they meet the animal’s nutritional requirement. But when fed in excess, they can become antagonistic with each other. What we’re doing is trying to bring [trace minerals] back to a natural level by providing them with a better source.”

Tomlinson said he hopes studies like this will encourage the industry to re-evaluate the source of minerals used.

“With the Zinpro mineral supplement, you can meet AAFCO requirements without over supplementing,” Tomlinson explained. “More importantly, you can do it and improve the health and the well-being of that pet simply by changing from a commodity ingredient to a well-respected science-proven option.”

The goal of this study, as well as future studies planned by Zinpro, is to improve nutrition of pets and provide a better understanding of the benefits of quality trace minerals to the industry while bringing more attention to mineral supplementation in pet formulations.

“Minerals are the unsung hero,” Kirn said. “They are important in over 3,000 proteins and over 300 enzyme systems. Trace minerals are key nutrients that are often overlooked. They are an important part of the nutrition of the dog or cat.”

Tomlinson favors an analogy when explaining the important role minerals play in pet health.

“They are like the key to your car,” Tomlinson said. “Trace minerals are what bring that animal to life. They are often overlooked and considered insignificant, and this study shows that they are not. They really do matter in the bioefficacy of how our animals live and function, thus affecting their health and wellbeing.”

An area of growth that Zinpro is focusing on for the future is companion animals and aquaculture, and the company intends to lead in those industries with its cutting-edge research programs.

Zinpro was first founded in 1971 as a small organic trace mineral company and has since grown into a global supplier for several species, including companion animals, livestock, equine and aquaculture, as well as humans. Today, Zinpro Corporation remains a family-owned company, employs a team of animal scientists, operates 11 regional offices around the world, and offers its trace mineral products in more than 70 countries.

Zinpro’s key differentiator in performance minerals is how they are absorbed and metabolized through the use of amino acid transporters, which facilitate a highly efficient pathway for mineral absorption, uptake and retention resulting in superior nutrition.

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