Good health starts with good nutrition.
If your dog or cat is diagnosed with an internal medicine disease such as kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, or even thyroid disease, your veterinarian may prescribe a special therapeutic diet for them. Many of these will be a therapeutic diet, meaning you will need a prescription from your veterinarian to get it and you won't be able to purchase the food at your local pet store.
Your veterinarian may recommend a premade commercially available therapeutic food, or they may recommend a nutrition consultation for a specific, tailored diet to meet the needs of your pet.
What's the big deal with therapeutic diets?
Therapeutic foods are specially formulated to help with specific diseases for either a specific length of time or for the rest of the pets life. These diets may not be formulated appropriately for normal, healthy animals. They may have more or less of different nutrients depending on the nutritional needs of the individual pet and the disease process. For example, kidney diets are typically lower in protein, phosphorus, and sodium as compared to standard over the counter (OTC) diets since the kidneys are not able to excrete these nutrients like healthy kidneys can.
OTC foods will not be as specialized as a prescription diet since they do not meet the AAFCO nutritional requirements for normal, healthy adult dogs or cats. Therefore it is important to check to see if it is okay with your vet before feeding a therapeutic diet to another pet in the household.
Therapeutic diets require a prescription and can be purchased through your veterinarian, a veterinary pharmacy, or a pet store that has a veterinary clinic associated with it. For a list of online veterinary pharmacies click here.
What are the options for therapeutic diets?
It is important to get the prescribed therapeutic food your veterinarian recommends. They will give you a prescription for a specific brand and a specific type of food. Do NOT switch to a different brand, or to an over the counter food with out speaking to your veterinarian first.
Over the counter diets that are labeled for certain conditions are not as specific as a prescription therapeutic diet.
OTC foods may make claims to be good for certain diseases, but they do not meet the rigorous standards the prescription/therapeutic foods have. The FDA does not allow food manufacturers to state their food can "diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease" without proper documentation. The Petfoodology blog by the Clinical Nutrition Service at Tufts University has a great article about therapeutic diets discussing what it takes to be an approved diet, check it out here.
The commercial brands of therapeutic diets we recommend include:
If you would like to do a homemade diet we recommend a nutrition consult such as:
We hope this helps understand about therapeutic diets. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!
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This website is NOT a substitute for veterinary care with a veterinarian. We recommend you follow the advice and treatment plan as prescribed by your veterinarian, and only after discussing anything found on this website with your veterinarian, with their approval, implementing advice found here.
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