Prescription diets for dogs have been found to improve certain health problems in some dogs. In some cases, the severity of symptoms can be reduced and improve the life of your dog. Let’s break down what a prescription diet is, why your dog may require one, and what to consider prior to considering a prescription diet.
What is a Prescription Diet for Dogs?
Prescription dog food is specifically and scientifically formulated to meet the health needs of a dog. These types of food are only available with a prescription from your dog’s veterinarian. Since they are formulated for certain health problems, this type of food isn’t available over the counter. If you believe your dog could possibly benefit from a prescription diet, consult your veterinarian.
Reasons Why Your Dog May Need a Prescription Diet:
Dogs that are obese or overweight and struggle to lose weight can benefit from a prescription diet. Typically, the type of prescription diet these dogs would be put on are low calorie, high-fiber, and formulated to maintain appropriate nutrition. Additionally, these diets may contain joint support nutrients since obesity puts more stress on their joints.
Prone to Bladder Stones
Some dogs are more prone to bladder stones than others. When minerals in your dog’s urine become concentrated and crystallize, they can turn into stones in the bladder or urinary tract. Dependent upon the type of stones developed, a variety of prescription diets could be prescribed by your veterinarian.
Chronic kidney disease is unfortunately an illness that is unable to be reversed. However, modifying your dog’s diet can play a major role in their treatment and comfort. This is because a prescription diet can slow the deterioration of the kidney, in turn slowing the progression of kidney disease.
Prescription diets formulated specifically for dogs with kidney disease are low in phosphorus and have a moderate level of protein to assist in improving the clinical signs of kidney disease. Additionally, these diets contain fatty acids to help fight inflammation and antioxidants to help reduce damage to cells.
Prescription diets aren’t typically recommended for dogs with heart disease, but in some instances your vet may recommend it. Diets in pets with heart disease are not thought to play as major of a role as they do in humans with heart disease. Dependent upon your dog’s type of heart disease, your vet will be able to determine whether or not they may benefit from a prescription diet.
For dogs that this diet is recommended for, it may help to slow down the heart disease progress, improving their quality of life. Prescription diets for dogs with heart disease contain low amounts of salt to decrease the workload on the heart. Additionally, the food likely contains fatty acids to help ease inflammatory reactions.
Dogs with food allergies have been found to be very sensitive to the proteins found in normal dog diets. The typical diet can cause dogs with food allergies to develop excessive itchiness, skin and ear infections, and gastrointestinal upset.
Hypoallergenic diets generally contain proteins that are broken down into small pieces and are less likely to stimulate the immune system. Additionally, these diets contain nutrients to help maintain the skin barrier.
Working closely with your veterinarian who will guide you and your dog through a proper food trial is the best way to pinpoint food allergies.
Additionally, prescription diets can be used to treat dogs with environmental allergies or dermatitis. These diets are specifically formulated to improve skin health through supplementing omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
If your dog has gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea, your vet may prescribe a diet once the cause has been determined. This type of diet is typically a hydrolyzed protein diet or an easily digestible/high-fiber diet. Depending upon the underlying condition that is causing the symptoms, the type of diet that will be the most beneficial and appropriate can be determined.
Seizures or Dementia
Research has shown that diets specifically formulated for neurological health can benefit dogs with epilepsy and dementia. Unfortunately, dogs with seizures cannot be managed with diet alone, but a diet formulated for neurologic health may decrease seizure frequency.
What Should You Consider Before Putting Your Dog On a Prescription Diet?
Your veterinarian will provide you with guidelines and proper instructions when it comes to feeding your dog their specific prescription diet. However, there are some important things to keep in mind.
For those dogs on prescription diets, you’ll need to avoid mixing in any other foods. In most instances, prescription diets are intended to be the exclusive source of nutrition in order to experience the greatest benefits.
Additionally, be sure your veterinarian is extensively aware of your dog’s medical history and any other issues. A prescription diet may not be the right answer for dogs experiencing multiple health problems so it’s important to be upfront with your veterinarian.