Same Snake Oil, Different Day

Knowing that I have an interest in investigating the evidence behind claims for veterinary healthcare products, clients and colleagues sometimes pass along materials concerning veterinary supplements, herbal remedies, and other similar products and ask my opinion. Since there are hundreds, if not thousands of products marketed to pet owners to preserve or restore their pets’ health, I can only look into a few. However, the more of these I investigate, the more clearly I see the patterns of disregard for science and manipulation of the consumer that they have in common.

The latest in this category is a collection of products from a company called The website and pamphlet for this company exhibits nearly all of the warning signs of quackery. The company systematically tries to frighten the consumer by suggesting that pets cannot be healthy without their product and that the food and healthcare they are currently getting is inadequate.

Give Your Pet a Fighting Chance

If you are feeding your pet one of today’s popular processed pet foods, then chances are, your pet’s body is depleted of the primary enzyme precursors nature provides abundantly in all living foods.

The fact that we continue to feed our pets such enzyme-less food over an entire lifetime may contribute to the growing list of animal health problems we witness today including; osteoarthritis, inflammation, joint pain, hip dysplasia, pano, OCD, HOD, shedding, hair loss, dry skin, itchy skin, digestive disorders, gastritis, pet food allergies, epilepsy, fatigue, hot spots, and many other stress related symptoms contributed to by a weakened immune system.

The whole “living enzyme” argument is complete nonsense, and there is no evidence for the suggestion that commercial diets are nutritionally deficient or responsible for this long, redundant list of random symptoms and disorders. Some of these problems may be related to nutrition, but that has nothing to do with the claim made here, which is baseless.

But the pseudoscientific nonsense doesn’t stop there. The web site also blames pet food, vaccines, and medications for a variety of ailments, again without paying any attention to the real, and complicated, risks and benefits of these interventions. Classic quack nonsense like claims about the Pottenger cat “study,” about boosting the immune system, about mysterious “toxins” as a cause of unrelated diseases,  and about Candida yeast infections as a common cause of many health problems are all over the company web site.

So, what are they selling with all this fear? Apparently, miraculous panaceas with uncounted benefits and absolutely no risks! Since they aren’t allowed to claim they can actually prevent or treat any disease without having evidence to support it (though they effectively do, despite the Quack Miranda Warning here and there), they promise to “support”

Healthy Joint function, Healthy Muscle Function, Healthy Skin and Coat, Healthy Nervous System, Healthy Immune System, Healthy Circulatory System, Healthy Endocrine System, Healthy Lymphatic System, Healthy Digestive System, Healthy Urinary Function, Healthy reproductive Function, Healthy respiratory System, Healthy organ Function, General Overall Wellbeing

I like how they throw in “Healthy Organ Function” and “General Overall Wellbeing” just to cover any possible body part they might not have thought of. So if you’re afraid the imaginary causes of illness they mention have caused your pets’ problem, or might cause something bad someday, you can take comfort from knowing they this product can treat or prevent absolutely everything (except when it can’t, in which case it’s because of the food, the water, the medications, or anything else except the lack of benefit of their product). 

What, exactly, are the miracle elixirs offered by

Ox-E drops
This consists of 5% sodium chlorite, a chemical related to bleach. Properly diluted, this chemical is a safe disinfectant, killing infectious organisms through oxidation. With a pH of 13, if not diluted the chemical can cause burns, especially to the eyes and mucous membranes. Accidental overdose can be fatal.

The company advertises this as helping in “the removal of potentially dangerous free radicals and toxins,” and claims that is boosts the immune system, supports digestion, and enhances “performance.”  Impressive claims for a potentially toxic disinfectant that is actually an oxidant rather than an anti-oxidant.

As the accompanying quack Miranda warning attests, and a simple literature search confirms, there is absolutely no evidence for any of these claims. Plenty of testimonials are offered, of course, which is always the evidence of choice for products that are based on pseudoscience and have never been tested in any reliable way.

Antioxidant Treats
The antioxidant hype is a common marketing ploy for supplements because it’s vague, and there is enough suggestive preclinical research to suggest the general idea is plausible. Unfortunately, there are few clinical trials which show significant real benefits from particular anti-oxidants in particular conditions, and the evidence is growing that some such agents, such as Vitamin E, can actually increase the risk of disease.

The specific ingredients include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and a proprietary freeze-dried sprouted soybean meal claimed to contain:

The amount of the vitamins in the supplement are far in excess of what is recommended to prevent deficiency.

Vitamin A- 1000IU (recommended daily dose 50IU/kg, safe upper limit 2,099IU)
Vitamin C- 30mg (recommended daily dose 0, dogs and cats make their own)
Vitamin E- 5IU (recommended daily dose 1mg/kg)

These amounts are probably not high enough to cause harm, but given that most pets are fed diets already supplemented with more than enough of each, the amounts in this product are unnecessary as nutrients. The use of excess amounts of these vitamins as medicines to prevent or treat disease, is not proven, and has often turned out to do more harm than good when tried in humans.

As for the sprouted soybean meal, there is no scientific evidence to suggest health benefits from this either. The company sites a variety of epidemiological studies in humans indicating an association between eating tofu or other soybean food products and lower cholesterol levels, rates of some cancers, and a few other health problems. (They do not, of course, refer to any of the research in humans showing lack of benefit or potential risks from soy supplement products). All of this, unfortunately, is entirely irrelevant to whether or not this particular soy-based product has any benefits for dogs and cats.

The amino acids, vitamins, and minerals listed are all provided in adequate amounts in good quality commercial pet foods. The enzymes are of no benefit, particularly when taken orally since they themselves are destroyed by normal digestion. And none of the phytochemicals have yet been demonstrated to have any health benefits in dogs and cats. So while it is unlikely to be harmful, to is an expensive way to get a few nutrients your pet probably already has enough of and some chemicals that may or may not have any health effects, positive or negative. 

Black Leaf Tincture
This is an herbal product containing black walnut extract, olive leaf extract, and cayenne in 75% alcohol(!). The usual vague and unscientific claims are offered about supporting the immune system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, and so on.

Black Walnut- There is insufficient evidence to support any of the claimed health benefits despite traditional use for a wide range of unrelated problems. There is some concern about possible toxicity, from the walnut itself and from possible fungal contaminates.

Olive Leaf- The evidence in humans suggests some possible beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but it is weak and not conclusive. There is no eveidence on the possible effects in dogs and cats.

Cayenne- There is a fairly large amount of preclinical research suggesting possible benefits in humans, but little in the way of clinical trial evidence, and nothing in dogs and cats. 

I’ve written extensively about probiotics, and this is an area in which I think some real benefits are possible. Unfortunately, we have yet to develop an adequate understanding of the normal gut ecology to be able to influence it in significant ways, and the evidence for real clinical benefits from specific products varies from weak to non-existent. does nothing to change this. Their product contains a variety of typical probiotic bugs, and there have been no clinical trials to show that the specific combination has any value. The product was tested, however, in a study looking at quality and label accuracy for veterinary probiotics. It was found to contain only 2.7% of the number of bacteria claimed on the label, suggesting even the ingredient claims made for this product may be questionable, much less the claims of health benefits. 

“A Veterinary Study”
The company does claim to have one rather large veterinary clinical study from 1989 showing that dogs with musculoskeletal pain benefit from its sprouted soybean product. The study was never apparently published, and the information provided on the web site does not make it possible to evaluate it extensively. Six unnamed veterinarians apparently diagnosed dogs with “musculoskeletal inflammation” based on their own exams and the opinions of owners. They gave the supplement to 387 dogs, and 340 of them were reported as improved in one of more of these measures: energy, alertness, stamina, appetite, and accelerated healing. Most cases improved within the first week.

This is almost a cartoon caricature of what a scientific study shouldn’t be. No randomization, no placebo control group, no standardized diagnostic evaluation, no objective diagnostic evaluation (all subjective), no clearly defined diagnosis, no blinding, no record of other conditions or treatments used, and no predetermined or even halfway consistent criteria for response. Any high school science class ought to be able to put together a better “study.” If this is the best the company has been able to do in over 20 years, there is absolutely no reason to believe they have any interest in the scientific validity of their marketing claims. 

Bottom Line
These products are being marketed with an impressive number of the myths and warning signs of snake oil and pseudoscience. The theories offered for why these remedies should help your pet range from complete nonsense to vague unproven hypotheses. There is no scientific evidence to indicate any specific benefit from any of these products for any particular condition in dogs and cats. All the testimonials in the world can’t prove any of the company’s claims to be true, nor can they guarantee that the products cannot hurt your pets. Just as there is little evidence regarding the claimed benefits of these products, there is little to demonstrate that they are safe.


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213 Responses to Same Snake Oil, Different Day

  1. skeptvet says:

    It’s always great when a pet does better than expected, but such stories don’t prove anything about this product any more than they validate homeopathy or prayer or bloodletting or Lourdes water or any other “miracle” treatment that lacks real scientific evidence of efficacy. Such stories are the reason humans used ineffective, even dangerous treatments for thousands of years before we found truly effective medicine using science.

    Here is some more information on why anecdotes mislead us.

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  2. Jack says:

    Interesting. Only thing I can cure is my personal experience with my 11 yr old GSD. He has moderate dysplasia and thus a bit of difficulty getting around. After a week of the granules, probiotic and antioxidant treats he was notocibly more alert and mobile. Perfect? No. Better. Yes.

  3. Daniel says:

    Reading all these fake replies by those who’re allegedly using Nzymes is disheartening. They aren’t even hiding the fact that they’re all fake bogus replies and all sound like the same script most likely written by someone from the same IP address. Ugh..

  4. Connie Skeend says:

    I am sooo confused. My dog lickes, he is miserable so I pay through the nose for Apoquel……I read about NZYMES and order right away ( Tonight)…. now I find this
    What the heck should I do

  5. skeptvet says:

    Despite the costs, I think your dog is far more likely to benefit from proper veterinary care, ideally even at the hands of a veterinary dermatologist, than from an internet snake oil.

  6. Munapua says:

    Worked for my dog….I was at my wits end. I have seen the healthy skin kit work on a friends dog with bad skin issues. His vet said I don’t know what you are doing but keep it up.

  7. Sally says:

    I just don’t know what to believe. Just received my bag of granular for molly. Just found out she has problems with her kidneys and a tumor. Now I am afraid to give the granula to her. Her level was above 5. Are taking another sample of urin Friday which will be sent to the lab. We bought Nzymes for her Wobblers.

  8. Heather says:

    Well I am guilty of being suckered into buying this product. I bought the Nzyme treats and the granules. We’ve been on them for almost 2 weeks and I haven’t noticed significant change. He’s a bit more hyper I guess I would say but one bad thing I would say for sure that I’ve noticed is that his breath stinks. He’s 5 1/2 years old and he’s never had stinky dog breath and now his breath smells weird. Anyone else experienced that?

  9. Bridget says:

    FYI just stumbled upon this page while Googling Oxedrops to reorder mine. They are sold on the Nzymes site, can’t speak to all the products but the drops definitely work especially for food poisoning and stomach bugs. I’ve been using this for at least ten years and mage sure we always have it especially if traveling. Just my two cents.

  10. Gary says:

    I was about to order a kit from Nzymes but decided to look further for objective criticism of their claims. That’s how I landed here. I have a rescue dog, about 4 years old, best guess is a Jack Russell/Dachshund mix, who has allergies resulting in constant biting and scratching. He has hot spots all over his paws, legs and belly. It is not seasonal. He’s had it in summer, fall and now winter.

    Veterinary advice so far has been to give him frequent Colloidal Oatmeal Shampoo baths, feed him high quality food and in one instance he was given a steroid injection, which provided very minimal and short-lived relief. We’ve spent a small fortune on expensive food and vet visits, but nothing seems to work. He did have a reprieve of about 2 weeks when we took him on vacation about 900 miles away from home last summer. But we aren’t sure if that was due to the steroid injection (which he’d received about 2 weeks before we left home) or the location change. Either way, it returned shortly after we had gotten back home two weeks later.

    I asked my vet about testing to see exactly what he is allergic to, but he said the testing is expensive and not very helpful, and that most people who have gone that route end up getting the steroid injections anyway. I also read that the test results can vary in accuracy according to which lab does the analysis, which makes the whole thing seem completely pointless.

    We are at our wit’s end trying to figure this out. Considering how much we’ve spent already with this, the Nzymes treatment seemed like a relatively inexpensive option, especially if it was going to work. But after reading your blog I’ve all but nixed that idea.

    My question is this: What are we to do now? Watching this dog suffer for the rest of his life is not an option. Our vet hasn’t been able to help and we are feeling like we’re at a dead end street.

    Do you have any advice that could potentially help this dog? I am 66 years old and have had dogs most of my life, but this is the first time I’ve encountered anything like this. I don’t know where to turn.

  11. skeptvet says:

    I have written a couple of posts discussing evidence-based allergy treatments (1, 2). There is no cure for allergies, but they can be managed effectively. How much work, and money, is needed to keep a pet with allergies comfortable depends on the individual patient, but there are many things you can do which have better evidence showing they help than this product. All of them cost money, but so does this. Rather than spending your money on an internet snake oil, I would consider getting a second opinion, ideally from a veterinary dermatologist if possible, and developing a serious long-term management plan, which will be a bmuch better investment than Nzynmes.

  12. L says:

    @ Gary,

    Please make an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist asap.

    It is the only thing that has helped my dog. She receives Allergen Specific Immunotherapy (desensitization shots) It’s been 7 years now.

    It takes a few months to kick in and they still may have an occasional flareup but nothing like before. And it has the least amount (if any) side effects of all the treatments.

    The initial appointment to get the skin testing and diagnosis and treatment started is expensive, but the follow up and maintenance is not so bad.

    In the end it’s cost effective because your not going back and forth to the General Practice Vet several times a year. And most of all, the dog is comfortable.

  13. Ronald says:

    Gary. I have a nine year old golden doodle. We rescued her as a pup from a puppy mill. She was fine until about 2 years ago when we had to have a ruptured tumor on her back removed. She got a skin infection and has suffered ever since. We used our vet and they prescribed everything from steroids, antibiotics and cidapoint injections. We have spent a small fortune trying to help her. We had a culture done and the vet said it was yeast overgrowth and could be treated with antibiotics. After a year and a half she was no better. We found Nzymes by chance and ordered the healthy skin kit. After about six weeks she has secreted
    so much yucky, stinky junk through her skin. She itches uncontrollably and wants to chew and suck on herself. We give two baths a week with Nzymes shampoo. Now she has had loose stools and the last few days has started throwing up with bright red blood in it. Guess we will take her back to the vet today and have more test run. We are at our wits end. If antibiotics kill your immune system, how can more of the same help. She definitely has yeast overgrowth.

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