Evidence Update: Neutricks Still up to Same Tricks

In 2011, I reviewed a product called Neutricks that claimed to help dogs with cognitive dysfunction, a condition in old dogs roughly analogous to dementia in elderly humans. At the time, there was little evidence to support the claims made for this product. Last year, I wrote an update evaluating a new study in dogs of the supposed active ingredient in this product. This study had numerous flaws and a high risk of bias, and it did not provide convincing evidence to support the use of Neutricks. I recently noticed a few additional facts about this product that add to the existing information which makes me inclined to recommend people avoid it.

The first is a recent study of the human version of the product, Prevagen, which involves flaws and biases similar to the canine study and which once again fails to provide compelling supportive evidence for this product.

Moran DL, Underwood MY, Gabourie TA, Lerner KC. Effects of a Supplement Containing Apoaequorin on Verbal Learning in Older Adults in the Community. Adv Mind Body Med. 2016 Winter;30(1):4-11.

To begin with, this study was published in the journal Advances in Mind-Body Medicine. Not exactly a reputable scientific heavyweight journal. In fact, it appears to exist primarily to publish lightweight and outright woo research not able to meet the standards of mainstream journals. As for the study itself, it showed little difference between the treatment group and the placebo group until some questionable post-hoc subgroup analyses were done. A detailed critique is already available elsewhere.

In addition, I am not the only one who has noticed that the company makes claims that go well beyond reasonable evidence. In 2012, the FDA issued a warning letter to the company, pointing out that not only was it making claims not acceptable under the minimal rules governing dietary supplements, but that since it was manufacturing the active chemical ingredient synthetically, it didn’t qualify as a supplement anyway and needed to be tested and regulated like any other new drug. What is more, the company apparently ignored numerous reports of side effects and failed to comply with quality standards for supplement manufacturing.

Sadly, the staff and political will to follow such letters with meaningful action are rarely available in today’s political climate, so the company continues to make and sell its product without going through the appropriate scientific or regulatory processes of a new drug approval. However, if the company was misrepresenting their product, ignoring reports of possible harm, and not complying with quality control standards for supplement manufacturing for their human product, there is no reason to believe they do any better with the veterinary version Neutricks.

Finally, in 2015 a class action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of Prevagen claiming that consumers were being misled by medical claims for which there was no legitimate supporting evidence. The courts rejected this element of the lawsuit on the technical legal grounds that only government regulators can require proof of advertising claims, not private citizens. The court did not make any ruling on the accuracy of the accusation, only that the plaintiff had no legal standing to make it in court.

However, the court allowed to stand the element of the suit claiming that the product could not work because the purported active ingredients either could not be effective taken orally because they would be destroyed by digestion (a point I made also in my original post) or because they were not present in sufficient quantity. The case is still being argued at this time.

Bottom Line

In the five years since I originally looked into Neutricks, no compelling evidence has emerged showing it is a safe or effective treatment for dogs with cognitive dysfunction. Furthermore, the company has been warned by the FDA for making illegal claims about the human version of the product and apparently not properly handling reports of possible adverse effects. The company is also being sued by individuals who feel they were misled by the advertising claims made for the human product. While none of this amounts to conclusive evidence the product doesn’t work or is harmful, it also does not give any reason for confidence in the product or the company’s claims. Though people continue to offer positive anecdotes in response to these posts, the evidence shows that there are also negative anecdotes out there, and that regulatory authorities have concerns about the conduct of the company in promoting its human version of this product. In my opinion, the safest and most rational choice given the current information available would be to avoid this product until better evidence is provided in dogs with cognitive dysfunction.

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28 Responses to Evidence Update: Neutricks Still up to Same Tricks

  1. Madeleine Watt says:

    So what are the dangers? I love my old dog and have seen some very positive changes. He’s not getting lost anymore either. This said, I also do not want to hurt him. Please tell me. Thanks.

  2. skeptvet says:

    The absence of evidence for the claimed benefits means there is also an absence of evidence for safety. It could be harmless, or it could be harmful. The whole point is that without good research no one knows, so it’s just rolling the dice.

  3. Elizabeth Olson says:

    They have a safety study and it reported that when tested at over 4000 times the normal dose there were no adverse events. So what do you mean there isn’t evidence of safety? Doesn’t that mean it is safe? I have also seen great improvement in my aging dog.

  4. skeptvet says:

    If you are referring to this study, this is a lab rat study of the active ingredient. You are correct that no adverse effects were seen, which is reassuring. However, as we all know, lab rats are not people, dogs, or cats, and the necessary research to prove both safety and efficacy consists of clinical trials of the actual product in the species and conditions for which it is recommended. So far, very little such evidence has bee published, and what there is does not provide convincing evidence of real benefits. The FDA, FTC, and the State of New York have all sued or warned the company for making claims not supported by evidence, and this is still an unreliable organization and product.

  5. Andrew says:

    I admit, i was a skeptic, but I had a 13 year old husky that I was going to have put down due to night pacing, anxiety, and incontinence. After 2 weeks of Neutricks, her observed behavior improved markedly. All of the above issues are gone, and she turned 14 recently. She does have hip issues and some other problems that were there before Neutricks, but anxiety issues are gone. Even fear of thunder and lightning diminished greatly.

  6. Alicia Wilcutts says:

    We put our 10 year old german shorthair on Neutricks over 2 years ago. Her anxiety improved almost immediately. She is now 12 1/2 and has been off the Neutricks for almost a week because we can’t find it anywhere. She is already showing increased anxiety. It breaks my heart to know there is a product that helps her and I can’t get it anymore.

  7. Ruth ott says:

    I have a 13 yr old Labrador and she was barking and pacing all of the time. My vet said he had heard from other clients that they saw an improvement. I tried it and could not believe the changes in her anxiety and pacing. They are now out of the product and have been for almost a month. My lab is back to panting and pacing. I am so bummed. Does anyone know if a similar product that they have seen results?

  8. Jacquie Copeland says:

    Could you please tell me what you think of Senilife.

  9. skeptvet says:

    It’s a hodgepodge of individual ingredients, and when I last checked it wasn’t clear if any of them, or the product as a whole, did anything useful. But I haven’t looked for new studies in several years, so I don’t know if there has been anything meaningful yet.

  10. Deb Berg says:

    We were skeptical but it did truly improve our senior dogs cognitive abilities. She was forgetting where to pee. We never had one incident while in Neutricks. It’s been a week since we ran out and she’s peed on the carpet, pacing around staring into space. Right now she’s just like a statue staring out the window for a few hours. What a shame to lose a product that actually helped our pet.

  11. Lee says:

    We have a 15 year old husky mix who was having cognitive issues – wandering, barking at the wall, pacing. Our vet gave us a list of options including Neutricks but was also honest that she wasn’t entirely sure it was proven to work. However, within 2-3 weeks we noticed a calmness that hadn’t been there before, and then of course the product ran out everywhere. At the Neutricks website we saw where they were recommending Prevagen as the alternative until they are back in stock. Since we’re not sure about any of these cognitive support supplements, we alternate Senilife and Prevagen every other day. So far his bloodwork still looks good and he even ran around with his tennis ball the other day. Of course with his arthritis, his humans had to fetch it lol. He’s made it this far so we’re trying to do whatever we can to make his last few year’s as happy as possible 🙂

  12. Kim Argo says:

    I have a dog that has been on Neutricks for 4-5 yrs — I thought I was going to have to put her down before my Vet asked me to try it. She was having night terrors – getting lost in our home, lots of anxiety – I don’t think I slept for 2 weeks. Within a week of Neutricks – she completely turned around and was her old self. She is now 19 years old – we ran out of Neutricks about 4 weeks ago due to a shortage – can’t find it anywhere. Within 4 days she was having issues. I had to put her on Senilife – but will switch back to Neutricks once available. I’m not a researcher or a person who can write a clinical trial study – but I’d say my experience along with all the others here prove there is something to the claims by the people who make this product. I won’t be surprised if my Pepper makes it to 21 yrs or more. She was chasing the cat multiple times last week! She can’t catch her – but it wasn’t from a lack of desire and effort!!

  13. skeptvet says:

    It’s always great to hear that a pet is doing well. Unfortunately, as compelling as such stories seem, they turn out to be misleading all the time. Lots of complex factors are involved, and many treatments that have such stories end up not being truly safe and effective. Here are some other articles (and a bit of humor) talking about how this works:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  14. R Kessler says:

    I’ve been trying the powder sprinkled on food for for my cat for about three weeks. So far no results observed. The only thing I noticed is she doesn’t like her food anymore. Prior to this she loved eating, each meal was the high point of her day. Now she doesn’t enjoy food. the Neutriks powder seems to adsorb all the liquid in the canned food and the additional water I add to the food. I tried putting it in empty gelcaps because the cat is easy to pill, but it took three of the#3 gelcaps for a one day dose. Too bad there isn’t a pill for cats

  15. Jill M. says:

    Hi Alicia…Neutricks is back ordered indefinitely according to their Facebook page. Our dog is also on Neutricks, and we too panicked when we couldn’t find it. You can use the human form Prevagen until Neutricks returns. Since Prevagen is 10 mg per capsule, if your pet takes one soft chew then you would use half a capsule sprinkled on your dog’s food. You can double-check the directions on the Neutricks Facebook page also.

  16. Marg Wood says:

    Neutricks has been keeping my dog active for 2 yrs. She will be 15 in jan 2019 and people think she is a young dog. She sleeps more but she still races around like a pup.
    She is healthy and all signs of CCD are gone. Is prevagen a prescription drug? I couldn’t aford a whole soft chew and since she is a small dog Shiba Inu I give her 1/2 a soft chew and it works well. I still have enough for 52 days. I hope it is back by then.
    I am very pesimistic, but I saw the difference it made in my dogs life, with no side effects.

  17. skeptvet says:

    Glad your pet is doing well, but of course such anecdotes don’t actually mean the product is working. Every therapy ever tried, including many now proven to be useless or harmful, like bloodletting, has had plenty of similar stories. Health is complicated, and simple relationships like “I gave X and they got better” can be deceiving. Here is some more discussion, and a little humor, to illustrate how:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  18. Marg Wood says:

    How long did it take to accept marajuana as a viable drug that helped people with all kinds of problems. There were alway thousands of ( anicdotal) evidence that it worked and was rejected by the sceptics for many years who said there was no proof it did any good for anybody, but the people it helped knew it did and but could’nt prove it.

  19. L says:

    Marajuana sucks. I was out there in the 70’s when it was popular.
    I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a 10 foot pole if you paid me.
    PS: Of course it makes people and animals feel better (temporarily till the next dose). It’s a tranquilizer.
    Hello!

  20. L says:

    “Marijuana” is the correct spelling.

  21. Dogowner says:

    How long did it take to accept bloodletting as a viable treatment that helped people with all kinds of problems. There were alway thousands of ( anicdotal) evidence that it worked and was rejected by the sceptics for many years who said there was no proof it did any good for anybody, but the people it helped knew it did and but could’nt prove it.

    Most unproven treatments with good anecdotes, the vast vast majority of them, fail. They fail miserably.

    Marg Wood- you might want to read this: https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/marijuana-beliefs-outstrip-evidence/

  22. Marg Wood says:

    I was simply pointing out that many non prescription and prescription drugs work for some people but not for others. The same thing applies to animals some drugs or supplements work and some don’t. For instance Marijuana helped with the effects of chemotherapy for drug patients and hemp oil helped many children with epilepsy seizures etc, but they had to suffer because they could not get them legally. I don’t care whether or not there is evidence that Neutricks works, or not. I see the results just like the people who used Marijuana for medical reasons felt the results. All drugs have side effects some people get them and some people don’t, what works for one person may not work for another. I do all the research for drugs that are prescribed for me for hypertension and I have refused to take many of them. The 2 that I take now I researched myself and they work fine without any side effects. I don’t think those who claim that they saw a big change in their dogs behaviour for the better where imagining these things. I know I didn’t imagine it. I was sceptical myself at first but decided to try it. and was surprised at the results. Marijuana is now legal in many Countries because it works and has proven the sceptics wrong! Too bad it took so long! I forgot to use spell check before so if there are any errors now it’s not my dyslexias fault. LOL

  23. skeptvet says:

    There are also just as many anecdotes saying it works for things it doesn’t have any effect on, and the same is true for every other therapy. The issues isn’t whether or not some anecdotes are sometimes true but whether anecdotes in general tell us anything useful. Even a broken clock is right twice a day, but using one to tell time is not a good choice.

  24. skeptvet says:

    The problem here is that if you look at all the anecdotes for or against something and say, “Well, it works for some people and not others, but people should be able to try it” then you’ve given up on anything like a scientific, objective understanding of anything in medicine. We used this kind of trial and error for thousands of years, and in all that time we were never able to make any meaningful improvements in human health of welfare. Most of us died as children of diseases we wouldn’t even recognize today despite all the anecdotes for every herb and bloodletting and magic ritual we tried. Every time we did something useless and a sick child got better despite it, we then decided that treatment must work and used it on other children who got no benefit. The way we do things now, where we use science to tell if something really works, saves lives and prevents suffering on a huge scale. We are better off not trusting in anecdotes, but sadly most people can’t seem to understand why or learn this lesson of history.

  25. Lisa says:

    My dog have been taking Neutricks for about 8 year and has shown IMPROVED cognitive function…I am saddened that this product is no longer available!!! since we had to stop the use of this product, my dog has experienced loss of coordination, starring at walls, confusion….it really breaks my heart! My vet has now recommended senilife….he has shown improvement and regained the cognitive function; however, I feel nothing will work best as the Neutricks has!
    Again, sad that this product is no longer available!

  26. skeptvet says:

    Unfortunately, such experiences are very convincing without actually being very reliable indicators of which treatments work and which don’t. Here is some discussion (and some humor) addressing this issue:

    Placebo Effects and Animals

    Why Anecdotes Can’t Be Trusted

  27. Cheryl Corbett says:

    Ceretrix was suggested to as a replacement for Neutricks. Any thoughts ?

  28. skeptvet says:

    Not much difference in that there is a hodgepodge of ingredients that have not been demonstrated, alone or in combination, to have clinically meaningful benefits. It’s still dishonest to sell products like this with claims, or the implication, that they help pets without any actual clinical research evidence that this is true. If it is helpful, it should be straightforward to show this in a clinical study, at which point I’ll jump on the bandwagon, but until then they are just guessing.

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