Prescription diets formulated for particular diseases seem like a really easy choice to help your pet with food, but are they as healthy as they are advertised to be?
My short answer? No. I virtually never recommend prescription diets, and I almost always try to transition pets off who come to me already on a prescription diet.
Prescription veterinary diets (such as Royal Canin, Hill’s, or Purina Veterinary Diets) are formulated to approach diseases that can be helped by certain dietary modifications. On the one hand, they are very easy and help eliminate confusion. It’s far less confusing for me as a veterinarian to recommend a diet that I sell and am familiar with. It helps to cut down on your confusion as a client as he veterinary staff will help you select the diet before you leave the clinic, and if you purchase it online or otherwise, it requires a prescription from me, so I can still be confident you are getting the right diet. It also allows me to feel confident I’m providing appropriate nutritional management without having to undertake a lot of research and education about dietary therapies.
On the other hand, all veterinary diets are necessarily processed food, usually canned or dry food. If you have been following my blog, you know that these are generally not my favorite forms of food regardless of what the ingredients in the food are.
Additionally, all but a couple of very small, uncommon brands of prescription diets are made by the large food companies who still promote grains as appropriate nutrition, and, more to the point, as an appropriate protein source for our obligate and facultative carnivore friends (cats and dogs respectively). Because of this, all but the allergy limited ingredient diets lean heavily on ingredients that are not optimal for a dog or cat diet.
For those reasons alone, I much prefer to look at how the diets are modified and find higher quality diets that will fulfill any requirements of a pet dealing with a disease. The vast majority of the time we can find a more species appropriate diet solution that still checks all of our medical boxes.
The one exception is some of the limited ingredient diets (d/d from Hill’s, for example). These are grain free and usually potato based as far as the starch goes, however there are other brands that I think do a better job with limited ingredient diets as far as the concentration of meat and the availability of different novel proteins.
If you have a furry friend who has a health problem that needs special veterinary attention, please feel free to contact me! I’m always excited to help people find nutritional ways to help heal their pets.
If you want a consultation, or simply more information, please get in touch!
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