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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68 Responses to Same Snake Oil, Different Day

  1. Spero B says:

    Dear ” Vet ”
    Im not going to get into any heated debates on what your claims are towards this product. My GSD is 100 % better post using the Nzyme Products. Thousand + dollars spent here in Ontario to get Zeus Better by conventional medications…well NONE worked, except the Nzyme Treatments! A Miricle?? I think NOT. I think you should start doing more research than making all these claims against this company! Do you have anything better to offer? Funny thing is ALOT of people state it works, including my Vet here in town…” cant believe the difference that stuff has made ” in respect to Zeus. You spend alot of time on this website trying to debunk all the claims that this product tells. Time to think outside the box ” Doctor of Vet Medicine “. Regards, Spero, Registared Nurse, ICU, Peds, Crital Care Paramedic last 15 +

  2. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but the “I don’t care what the evidence says, I’ve seen it and I know it’s true” is the same thing people say to validate astrology, alien abduction stories, and all manner of nonsense, and it’s the same thing that kept us bloodletting and practicing all sorts of ineffective and harmful therapies for centuries. Either everything is true, or personal experience just isn’t good enough by itself to determine what’s true. If I should accept Nzymes works because you say it has for your pet, than you’d better be prepared to accept anything and everything, no matter how crazy, that someone else says base don their own experience. Personally, I think this is a lousy way to decide what’s true or false, and I think the pretty clear evidence of history is that science works better. Perhaps you could try thinking outside your own “box” of your personal experience and consider that all of us are fallible and that there is a reason science works better than trial-and-error in figuring out the truth about the world.

    I’m not sure why you felt the need to indicate your credentials. I’m either right or wrong regardless of mine, and the same is true for you. If credentials did matter in deciding who is right, I think a pretty good argument could be made that being a vet is more relevant to deciding on the truth of a veterinary medical therapy than being a paramedic or an RN, so that would kind of work against your claims anyway, but as I said such claims should stand or fall on their evidence, not the CV of the person making them. In this case, your only evidence appears to be your own experience, and it surprises me that as a medical professional you don’t have a clearer understanding of why such anecdotal evidence isn’t very reliable.

  3. DianeM says:

    I have such a love/hate relationship with this blog. On the one hand, I appreciate the articles as much for the exceptional quality of the writing, which is amazingly articulate on such complex subject matter, as for the concepts about scientific thinking, not to mention the actual content. And I learn as much or more from skeptvet’s further discussion in the comments. On the other hand, I find most of the reader comments, especially if I read too many in one sitting, depressing as hell. And terrifying, really.

  4. Nick Martin says:

    Well, here is my story about Nzymes. We adopted a dog that developed some major allergy symptoms. He had horrible itching, sores, hair loss, gunk in the ears and a terrible yeasty smell. Our vet diagnosed him with yeast infections and put him on antibiotics, steroids and a special shampoo. He cleared up a little bit but once the antibiotic and steroid course were over, it came back even worse. subsequent courses became less and less effective and the yeast infection grew worse. We then tried an allergist and a dermatologist and nothing worked. I found the Nzymes website and since I am very skeptical I tried only the food and shampoo recommendations at first and there was some improvement but no complete reversal. This went on for over 6 months with no change. I finally decided to try the heathy skin kit since it had a 180 day money back guaranty. Within on month of starting the kit we had a total reversal! Their own literature says that their products won’t work with out their recommended diet changes so for me it worked where conventional treatments failed.

  5. Martine Chirayath says:

    I think you are doing great harm to animals by putting down Yes, we should investigate quackery, but I question your motives and your zeal in pulling down this good company. I had a long chat with Dan, owner of this company, based out of Las Vegas. I could tell he was knowledgeable about his products, since I have done extensive reading, and experimentation with natural supplements on myself, my cat, my dog, and my boa constrictor. I do a lot of rescue work with animals, especially German Shepherd dogs. My dog Max, now deceased, was a classic case of vets having given up on him.

    Vets are not trained in nutrition, or wholistic health. They cater to acute issues, specific diseases, and use drugs. These have their place in medicine, but there is nothing more important that diet, exercise, and supplements to bring an animal or human back to optimal health. Most of our current pet issues are the result of lack of understanding of diet, and unscrupulous pet food companies passing of rubbish as food. My garbage can is more nutritious than what most well-meaning folks feed their dogs or cats. These animals get pernicious yeast infections in their gut based on poor food, overdoses of harmful (but sometimes necessary) immunizations, antibiotics, and steroids, and stress. Now we give them drugs like Diflucan to kill yeast that is hepatoxic (liver damage). What is the solution?

    Enter NZYMES.COM. The use of oxy drops (stabilized oxygen) + blackleaf (tincture of black walnut and olive leaf) for 4 weeks period, twice daily, is brilliant! Both these items kill yeast, but are not toxic for liver. Yeast takes a long time to kill as it lives in the intestinal cavities, like Taliban living in the caves of Afghanistan – hard to flush out. So you bomb it for 4 weeks slowly and systematically. Oxy drops is used by the Poultry farms as a non-toxic disinfectant for cleaning. If used without dilution, it can burn. If mixed with Citric Acid, it turns to a form of bleach. But… taken diluted with a glass of water, dosage at 1 drop per 20 lbs of body weight (human or animal), it is a potent form of oxygen in body. Going down the gut, it kills yeast, and disinfects it. It does not turn into bleach, since you are not mixing it with Vit C, or citric acid, so when you disparage this product, you don’t know what you are talking about, and not giving people the whole truth. Black Walnut juice is folk remedy for parasites with a long history in the South. It has lots of medicinal uses. So does Olive Leaf Extract. Both are powerful anti-fungals. It makes a lot of sense to combine them and treat our pet’s intestines with this, along with oxy drops. Other herbals that fight yeast are: Fresh green coconut water, caprylic acid, grapefruit seed. The last two can be bought in capsule form and rotated in use so yeast does not develop a tolerance. Cayenne pepper extract is Capsaicin which dilates blood vessels so the blackleaf is absorbed more full in the gut lining where the yeast reside. Dilating blood vessels and membranes flush the yeast out, and allow better absorption of medicines. It is frequently added to vitamins for same reason. By disparaging this, you are displaying your own ignorance of herbals.

    After 4 weeks of bombarding the gut with these herbals, you weaken the yeast. Then you put in the good bacteria. I was pleased to note that Nzymes bacteria is a combination of both acidophillus lactobacillus and also bifida longum and others. Most only use acidophillus, and leave out the bifidus. Great product and absolutely worth its weight in gold.

    Sprouted soy granules, not only boost the immune system of the animal being treated but is food for the bacteria. Another brilliant concept. Bacteria are little animals too, and this feed them and grows them in our guts.

    Antioxidant treats? What is wrong with antioxidants? Good for the animal. Again, this detoxes the animals and boosts immune system. Each time you boost immune system, you lower the yeast resistance.

    Every single product that Dan makes at is worth its weight in gold. After I exhausted all conventional vet medications on my poor GSD Max, I tried Nzymes. Why had I not tried this first? Because of sceptics like you! Because you folks that try to debunk myths are doing a lot of harm to good sites, and sensible remedies. There is no quackery with Nzymes. They only do one thing, and they do it well. If they are not clear about what they put into their products, would you also reveal your formulas for all to copy, if that was your business?

    Sceptics like yourself, remind me of art critics. Critics and sceptics do not have the creativity, or drive to build something, so they tear other people’s structures down. Try building something… a company, a product, to help animals, instead of taking the only sensible and effective anti-yeast remedy on the market today and shredding it with your baseless and sweeping generalizations. Nzymes work! Your long tirade does not. And no, I don’t work for Dan or Nyzmes. But he gave me an hour of his time to explain how his products work, on a long distance call from Vegas to Los Angeles, where I live, and since I study herbals, I understood his methods. I now send all my rescue doggie owners to Nzymes, and have instructed my vet and several other cat, dog, reptile rescues to buy the Big Kit and follow the intructions.

    Now could you please silence your tirade and let these good products do the work they are intended for. You are the real harm here.

  6. skeptvet says:

    It should be obvious that I neither agree with you nor intend to stop warning pet owners about unproven remedies like this one. Your belief, and the emotional intensity of your belief, are not actually evidence for any of the things you believe. You are entitled to feel whatever you like, but that doesn’t make you correct nor does it mean you have the right to demand anyone who disagrees with you keep silent. You may think yourself so much smarter than the rest of the world that you can decide which evidence and opinions people need to be able to read and which they don’t, but I am not convinced. I’ll leave my article and your rant up and we’ll let people make up their own minds.

  7. v.t. says:

    Actually, perhaps it would be better to delete the obviously dangerous”herbal advice” Martine posted – or at least, an editor’s note attached – so often do innocent owners read something and quickly ascertain false merits before continuing to read factual counter-points.

  8. Martine Chirayath says:

    Your response to my post confirms you bully people, not encourage intelligent discussion. Why are you so against Nzymes and the natural remedies. Are you paid by drug companies like Novartis to promote their toxic products over natural cures? It is anecdotal evidence that pressured the FDA to finally approve DMSO for interstital cystitis in humans, although it is routinely used on million dollar racehorses to reduce inflammation on joints. Still not approved for sale to humans for same. Of course this would put a lot of drugs out of commission like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, naprosene, and all the rest of NSAIDs. It is very simple why no tests are done on natural remedies. Testing costs money, great big amounts of cash. Why should any company put natural remedies through clinical tests when they cannot be patented for profit? What Nzymes is selling is non-patentable, so why should anyone spend millions in research on these? Drug companies have given us all manner of amazing drugs that help us in acute cases. But chronic cases are about nutrition and balance, and this is where nzymes comes in. Your blind refusal to see this, and assess the anecdotal evidence of cures in incurable dogs and cats, shows a mind that is already made up, refuses to reason, is incapable of intelligent conversation, and uses a website to bully others into submission while running down the ONLY INTELLIGENT CURE FOR YEAST IN EXISTENCE TODAY IN NZYMES!!! Shame on you. You are a small-minded petty tyrant playing god with the lives of countless animals, and posting only what suits you on your website. The fact that you decided to post my earlier comments and that you considered not posting them, is testament to the fact that your website is limited to those who don’t contradict you and your mindset. You are doing great harm with your limited knowledge and fixed ideas. If you had lived in the time of Galileo, you would have insisted on the world being flat because there was no proof it was round. It took the Catholic church 400 yrs to admit their mistake, despite being laughed at for 4 centuries at their obstinacy. You remind me of the same.

  9. Tina Duggins says:

    I don’t care what you say about We have a German Shepherd who has suffered horribly for 5 years. First it was allergies, then it was thyroid deficiency, thousands and thousands of dollars,then steroids, both oral and then injections that were harming his kidneys. Finally, I said ENOUGH! We started him on the Enzymes skin it and within three weeks, he did a 180 degree turnover. I kept him on the program for 4 months. He has been off of it to date 3 weeks and the yeast smell and blackened skin is returning. Unless you have a family member (our dog) that suffers from this gunk, whatever it may be, leave Enzymes alone-it works and if it doesn’t they give your money back with no questions asked. I also want to add that someone has called me and wrote me emails asking how Max is doing and can they do anything for us. One month, I forgot to order a resupply and I only had about 4 days worth left. I called them and told them of my oversight-they overnighted my order and only charged me regular shipping. I’m been going to my vet with multiple pets for over 20 years and He nor his staff has ever bothered to call to check on my pets. You call it snake oil, and I’m sorry it’s taking funds away from your drug stock, but I’m here to tell you first hand, I have my happy, good smelling, energy abound 9 year old GSD back.

  10. Laura says:

    I was just about to order more of this product but now I won’t. My dog is 14 yrs. old and if they can’t make her live forever, what’s the point. Thanks for challenging yet another
    Corporation that’s allowed to operate in the U.S., make erroneous claims, and do business as usual without regard to proving the efficacy of their products. It’s only shameful. It should be illegal!

  11. Colliemom says:

    We spent hundreds on a veterinary specialist when one of our boys developed serious skin issues. Eventually we came across NZymes antioxidant tablets and gave them a try. Frankly, it worked quickly and was cheaper than the prescription meds. Now we keep the granules or antioxidant tablets on hand in case of a flare up. Knocks it down quickly. No more suffering with red, irritated skin. Happy dog = happy dog mom.

  12. wanda says:

    my 8 yrs boxer mix has been suffering from dry ,itchy skin and a very bad dog smell since he was a puppy. I came across NZYMES when searching the web about what to do for ‘smelly’ dogs. I spend about $70,00 on their products. After about a month he was scratching worse than before,so I stopped the ‘treatment’ and the itching got a lot better.I decided to look for reviews on NZYMES and came across your blog. I had called the company about their 120 days money back warranty but was directed to an answering machine asking to leave a message and phone #. Never got a call back. Money thrown in the garbage literally.

  13. Alicia says:

    Our rescue mix Australian Cattle dog suffered terribly from yeast infections several times per year. The last one he was on so many rounds of steroids and antifungal medications but the treatments were not clearing him up. He was miserable, almost hairless, open sores from scratching. I ordered the healthy skin program for him and yes, it did get worse, just as the literature said it would, due to detoxing. After the first two weeks we started seeing improvement. He had never had a prettier, healthier looking coat and no more itching! I do believe he had treat over growth and am thankful I found a treatment for him that finally worked after spending so much at the veterinary clinic!

  14. Kim Green says:

    My 13 year old yorkie fell in a pool while we were on vacation and suffered with a respiratory infection. We took her to 7 vets over 5 months and spend over $2000 on drugs and tests that were a total waste of money. All the vets were oblivious to her condition. The last one suggested we clean her teeth. Our dog was on deaths door, gasping for breath all day, bubbles coming out of her nose, no energy what so ever.

    After taking the Nymes Ox-e-drops for 4 days internally and being tented with a vaporizer my dog is totally cured. She has spent the past 3 weeks not just healthy again but acting like a puppy so this blog is BS!

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