Nutrition is one of the most important things a dog requires to help maintain optimum health. The nutrients a dog needs include water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. These nutrients aid in the formation of structural components of the body, the transportation of substances around the body, help maintain temperature and are involved in metabolic actions and provide energy.
Premium dog foods (eg: Eukanuba®) provide all the nutrients a dog needs, with the exception of water. So for most pet owners, providing fresh water and premium quality kibble is all they need to do to ensure their dog gets a nutritionally balanced meal. But what if your dog has a specific medical condition or a food allergy or intolerance? If this is the case, then a prescription dog food may be required.
Prescription Dog Food
Several companies such as Hills® and Waltham® manufacture specially formulated prescription dog food for specific conditions. These include:
- Gastrointestinal Disease
- Renal Failure (Kidney Disease)
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Dental Disease
- Dietary Sensitivity
- Joint Problems
- Lower Urinary Tract Disease (Bladder Stones)
Why Buy Prescription Dog Food
If your dog is diagnosed with a certain medical condition, a prescription dog food can help to manage and control the condition in addition to veterinary treatment. For example, a dog with diabetes mellitus, a condition caused by a lack of insulin or from hormonal changes that reduce the effect of insulin, can develop other complications (eg: cataracts) if left untreated. In addition to insulin injections, a specific prescription dog food may be prescribed to reduce fluctuations in blood glucose levels or to aid in weight loss for the overweight diabetic dog.
Dogs with joint problems can benefit from a specific prescription diet that provides omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that protect joint cartilage, provide a reduction of pain and inflammation to the joints, and aid in joint health and mobility. Dogs that have experienced bladder stones (the mineral crystals that form in the urinary bladder) can benefit from prescription dog food that helps dissolve crystals and prevent them from re-forming.
Cost of Prescription Dog Food
Because prescription diets need to be prescribed by a veterinarian, they can usually only be purchased at veterinary clinics and pet hospitals. The costs of these foods may seem high compared with the cost of many supermarket brands, but prescription diets are not that much more expensive than premium foods.
Supermarket brand pet foods generally contain more water and colors to make the food look more palatable (though your pet won’t care if the kibble is of mixed colors), and as a result, pets need to eat more of it to gain all the nutrients they require. So in the long run, the cheaper brands aren’t that much cheaper and usually result in your pet producing a lot more waste to clean up!
Prescription dog food has the specific purpose of assisting in managing and controlling medical conditions in conjunction with veterinary treatment. In addition to being a health benefit to the animal, these foods can potentially minimize further medical costs associated with surgery or complications by reducing the risk that the pet will require them.
Prices may vary from clinic to clinic but the mark up on pet food is generally not high as veterinarians provide these foods as a service to clients rather than to make lots of money. Because prices will vary, it is best to call your local veterinary clinic/s for a price.
So if your dog has a medical condition, a specially formulated prescription dog food is certainly worth the cost to help manage and control the illness and provide him with a better quality of life.