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Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

 
 
Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

Prescription Dog Food – When is it a Good Idea?

April 22, 2016 / (1) comments

Most dogs can eat any of a number of over the counter foods and thrive. Dog foods that follow AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) regulations and are labeled as being nutritionally complete and balanced will meet the needs of “typical” pets… as long as they are healthy.

 

But when disease strikes, over the counter foods may no longer be a dog’s best option. Pet food manufacturers produce a wide range of what are often called prescription diets. These foods are specifically designed to meet the unique needs of sick or injured pets.

 

Here’s a sampling of some of the most commonly recommended prescription diets for dogs.

 

Foods for Kidney Failure

 

Dogs suffering from kidney failure need to eat a food that contains moderate amounts of protein that is of the highest possible quality to reduce the formation of toxic metabolites and support muscle maintenance. Reduced phosphorous and sodium levels are also important.

 

Foods for Food Allergy/Intolerance

 

Dogs with an allergy or intolerance to certain ingredients commonly used in pet food will experience relief from their symptoms when they eat an appropriate prescription food. Options include novel protein formulations (e.g., venison and green pea) or hydrolyzed diets.

 

Foods for Gastrointestinal Conditions

 

Some gastrointestinal disorders can be managed with a highly digestible diet. These are often low in fiber and fat. Other conditions improve when dogs eat high fiber foods. Picking the right gastrointestinal diet depends on what specific disease a dog has been diagnosed with and sometimes a bit of trial and error.

 

Foods for Joint Disease

 

Foods that are enriched with omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and antioxidants can promote joint health. These foods should also not be so calorie rich as to encourage weight gain.

 

Foods for Weight Loss/Maintenance

 

Some dogs lose weight quickly when fed a high fiber diet. The fiber adds bulk to the food, making dogs feel full without adding calories. However, other dogs do better when they eat a high protein/low carbohydrate diet. The only way to know which will work best for you and your dog is to try each and monitor the results.

 

Foods for Brain Changes Associated with Aging

 

Foods with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help protect the brain against the damage caused by free radicals and optimize an older dog’s mental functions.

 

Foods for Lower Urinary Tract Disease

 

Dogs who have a history of urinary crystals and stones are at high risk for recurrence. Feeding them a food that promotes the formation of dilute urine (canned is best) and an optimal urinary pH and contains reduced amounts of the substances that form crystals and stones can help with prevention.

 

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Foods are also available that can help dogs with diabetes mellitus, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, skin problems, chronic dental disease, and recovery from an accident, illness or surgery. Talk to your veterinarian about whether a prescription diet might be in your pet’s best interests.

 

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ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.


 
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