petMD Survey Reveals Pet Owners Misunderstand Prescribed Diets

PetMD Editorial
Updated: June 10, 2016
Published: September 30, 2014
Share this:

Philadelphia, PA – August 11, 2014 – Many pet owners are being introduced to the benefits of therapeutic diet by their veterinarians. "Therapeutic diets can be helpful in the nutritional management of diabetes mellitus, heart disease, liver disease, skin problems, cancer and more," states Dr. Jennifer Coates, Veterinary Advisor to petMD. Unfortunately, according to a recent petMD survey, some of these pet owners are not being fully compliant with the directions given for feeding these therapeutic foods, and pets consequently may not receive the full health benefit of the veterinarian’s prescription. 

The survey’s key findings include:

  1. Pet Owners Not Accepting of Veterinarian Recommendations: Even though 75% of survey respondents said they follow a veterinarian's dietary recommendation, more than half said they would seek a second opinion if their vet recommended a therapeutic food.
  2. Pet Owners Concerned About Taste of Therapeutic Pet Foods: The survey revealed 40% of people are concerned with the taste of therapeutic pet foods and the expectation that their pet may reject the food. This caused them to seek things to add to the food.
  3. Pet Owners Adding to 'Human Food' to Therapeutic Pet Foods to Enhance Taste: 50% of survey takers admitted to adding "human food" to their pet's therapeutic diet. The problem is that many therapeutic dietary formulas are based on precise control of certain nutrients, so the additional of other foods, pet or human, can skew this careful balance and weaken the effectiveness of the therapeutic diet. Also, supplementing with human food can add a significant and surprising number of calories to a pet’s diet.

Here are some tips for people considering therapeutic diets for their pet:

  • Remember that pets and humans have different preferences for food smells and tastes.  So what seems appetizing to you might not be the key to your pet’s stomach — and they may in fact really enjoy something that does not smell particularly good to you.
  • Texture can also be very important. If your pet does not seem to like the dry version of a therapeutic food, ask your vet if there is a wet version – or you may be able to mix some wet food with the dry as a way to make it more appealing for your pet.
  • Make sure the pet food is not given cold.  Pets often prefer food heated to body temperature.
  • Low-sodium chicken broth can be added to the food to make it more appealing

"Therapeutic diets have many potential benefits for pets, but only if given in the proper manner, says Dr. Coates. "Talk to your veterinarian about whether a therapeutic diet might be in your pet’s best interest."


petMD is the world’s largest digital resource for pet health and wellness information. Founded in 2008 to provide pet owners support beyond the vet office, petMD has quickly become the go-to resource for millions of pet parents across the globe. The website maintains a comprehensive library of more than 10,000 pet health articles, all written and approved by petMD’s network of trusted veterinarians. Popular features include the Symptom Checker, Chocolate Toxicity Meter, Healthy Weight Calculator and petMD University. petMD is a part of Pet360 Inc., an integrated media and ecommerce company devoted to everything pets, providing pet parents the trusted information, products and advice they need to raise happy, healthy pets. Follow petMD on Twitter @petMD.