Every animal is unique and, therefore, may not be able to eat what every other animal of its kind eats. Depending on the health, well-being, and age of the animal, a specialized pet diet may be just what the veterinarian ordered. Prescription pet food is exactly as it sounds: food that requires a prescription from the veterinarian. The ingredients in the prescription food vary and are based on the specific needs of the animal. Generally, the formularies for these specialized foods do not adhere to the guidelines from the Association of American Feed Control. As a result, proof of prescription is necessary at the checkout aisle. More often than not, prescription pet food is also available at the veterinarian’s office.


What Conditions Call for Prescription Pet Diets?

The following list covers the most common health concerns that likely require a specialized pet diet. However, the veterinarian will assess each animal’s condition individually and determine the appropriate course of action.

  • Digestive and gastrointestinal disorders can impact the animal’s diet, including pancreatitis, an infection of the organ that can be deadly. When detected quickly via blood work and a stool test, the animal can find relief with medicated food.
  • Kidney, or renal, disease generally calls for low-protein meal options and foods that limit copper, fat, and phosphorous, which can exacerbate kidney problems. More female than male animals are prone to this disease.
  • Animals with urinary tract infections and bladder stones require food that is lower in magnesium and has specific bacteria types that can battle the germs and maintain the necessary calcium oxalate.
  • Cancer-stricken animals need a low-carb diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, for those animals receiving chemotherapy, food with fewer antioxidants can be helpful since the antioxidants have an impact on the chemotherapy treatments.
  • Animals with allergies to certain foods require a specialized diet that eliminates the allergen but provides the same nutrients that the banned ingredient offers. Symptoms of allergic reactions to food include vomiting and diarrhea after eating. It may take time to determine the specific allergen because there are various ingredients in the animal’s food.
  • Not surprisingly, if an animal needs to lose weight, usually more than two pounds, it is likely that the veterinarian will prescribe a specialized diet. For example, fiber-based diets can help regulate the animal’s glucose consumption.


What Types of Prescribed Food Are on the Market?

Hill’s Prescription Diet, or Hill’s Science Diet, and Royal Canin are the two mainstream options for both dogs and cats. These brands are sold at stores and the veterinarian’s office. Some independent brands for dogs include Darwin’s Natural Pet Products and Just For Dogs, which are available online. The companies’ websites require the veterinarian’s prescription before sale completion. It is important to note that some online sites do not require a prescription, such as Amazon. If pet owners purchase prescription food for pets that do not need a specialized diet, then the healthy animals may get seriously ill from eating the food.


Is It Easy to Notice When an Animal Needs a Specialized Diet?

It is critical to remember that no two animals are the same. For instance, one cat in need of weight loss may just require reduced portions of its regular meals or a switch in food type or brands. Another cat may require a prescription diet. When a pet experiences symptoms that are atypical and/or disruptive to its normal routine, an appointment with a veterinarian can provide clarity. Essentially, the veterinarian can run the necessary tests to determine the animal’s specific health condition and whether or not a prescribed diet may alleviate the unpleasant symptoms.