California Riding Magazine • October, 2008

In Top Form
Simple and pure supplements are an important component in joint maintenance
and preventative care.

Pan American Veterinary Corporation principal Carol Gillis, DVM, PhD, is the first to admit that any joint supplement, on its own, won’t solve chronic degenerative joint issues. These ailments, like all equine health matters, are best addressed by a comprehensive approach to horse care. Yet, an effective and safe supplement can contribute significantly to an equine athlete’s comfort, performance and longevity. Pan American’s products, Top Form, and the more recently introduced Supreme Top Form, are just such effective supplements.

Carol has been a practicing veterinarian for 32 years. She is a noted expert in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of soft tissue-related lamenesses and enjoys the proud resume credit of establishing, in 1991, the diagnostic ultrasound unit at UC Davis’s veterinary hospital. She put her extensive experience into forming the Pan American Veterinary Corp in 2000 to fill a void in the market for effective and safe aids in managing joint pain and inflammation.

Carol considers glucosamine to be the backbone ingredient in any joint supplement, which explains why Pan Am’s first product, Top Form, is 99 percent pure glucosamine hydrochloride. In terms of Carol’s time commitment, the supplement company was something of a “poor step child” to her work as a veterinarian. Nonetheless, Top Form gained a cult following through happy horse owners, word of mouth and the recommendations of fellow veterinarians.
“The problem with a glucosamine-only supplement is that it’s a slow acting product,” Carol explains. “It can take two or three weeks to see a result.” That’s fine for a lot of horses: those who are not on a rigid or demanding competition schedule, for example.

Since introducing Top Form in 2000, Carol continued to investigate ongoing global research about joint supplementation and made careful clinical observation of the horses in her care. What she learned in that time led to the addition of Hyaluronic Acid to glucosamine to create Supreme Top Form, which hit the market in May of last year. HA is familiar to many horse owners in a liquid form injected directly into horse’s joints, often their hocks. But its availability in an ingestible form is relatively new.

“I hesitated to add it for some time because it is such a big molecule. I thought there’s no way it can pass through the intestinal lining,” Carol says. But clinical studies have allayed that concern. “Studies show that adding Hyaluronic Acid to glucosamine produces a more rapid anti-inflammatory effect,” Carol explains. She notes that the reason for that has not been proven, but a biochemist colleague of hers has a persuasive theory. “He believes that the Acid is broken down into small particles when it is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract,” Carol explains. “When that happens, the body seems to perceive the particles as joint damage by-products and mounts its own rapid anti-inflammatory response.” Hyaluronic Acid has also been shown to help repair joint cartilage.

Produced through the process of microbial fermentation, the HA in Supreme Top Form is 100 mgs in pure high molecular weight.
The new product was a hit from the get-go and now constitutes about 80 percent of Pan American Vet Corp’s sales.

Safe & Affordable

Safety has been a Pan American priority since the outset. Thanks to the purity and simplicity of their ingredients, both Supreme Top Form and Top Form passed toxicity tests with flying colors. “They proved to be the same or less toxic than a placebo,” Carol relays.

Price is paramount, too. “Because we are recommending these supplements as a part of an ongoing, daily maintenance program, it is important to us that they are economically accessible,” Carol notes. In dosage comparisons with other joint supplements, Supreme Top Form and Top Form are among the least expensive on the market. Furthermore, their use often enables the horse to perform comfortably with less frequent complementary treatments.

The right supplements, Carol reiterates, are only one component of a healthy approach to joint maintenance. Her extensive, hands-on experience has made her a strong advocate of big-picture thinking. “The thinking in preventative joint care has evolved to look closely at the whole horse,” she notes. Shoeing, feed and fitness routines are just a few contributing factors, as is the foresight to adjust a horse’s care according to its workload and work surface.

Funnily enough from a veterinarian whose claim to fame is ultrasound and other high tech tools, Carol’s “golden tip” to horse owners is decidedly low tech: “Warm your horse up under saddle for 15 minutes before you do anything,” she says. “It lubricates their joints and warms up the spine and muscles. I know it’s hard to do when everybody is on such a tight schedule, but you will save yourself a lot of unnecessary problems by doing it.”

An amateur english rider, Carol recently left her regular veterinary practice to focus on Pan American Veterinary Corp and to prepare for a relocation from the Sacramento area’s Vacaville to the East Coast horse haven of Aiken, S.C. “We have a very strong base for our company here,” she notes. “We love the California riding community and we will continue to serve it with our products.”

For more information on Supreme Top Form and Top Form and to locate distributors, visit or call 877-511-0505.