Therapeutic Diets for Pets: Why Nutrition Can Benefit Pets With Medical Conditions

Dog with therapeutic pet dietPet food has come a long way from the table scraps people used to feed their pets. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the idea came along that, yes, pets also need the right nutrition. From organic options to grain-free foods, specialty diets now flood the market. In fact, the pet food aisle can be downright confusing and overwhelming for some people.

Pets with medical conditions are no exception, with many products available that aim to alleviate conditions or at least slow their progression. Indeed, specialty diets are invaluable components of treatment programs and can support a pet’s overall well-being.  

Therapeutic Pet Diets

Good nutrition is the cornerstone of good health, but if your pet suffers from an illness, diet can play an even greater role. Here are some common reasons pets with medical conditions may benefit from a specialty diet:

Allergies Diets can be specially formulated to avoid food allergies that are diagnosed by your veterinarian. Many pets also suffer from seasonal allergies that can really exacerbate their immune systems. These diets are often hypoallergenic to reduce the overstimulation of the immune system by making protein more digestible. They usually include supportive vitamins and supplements.

Gastrointestinal issues Pets with sensitive stomachs benefit from a diet designed to encourage digestion. This often includes increasing fiber, as well as using a different type of protein that’s more readily broken down.

Heart disease For humans, diet certainly plays a role in protecting the heart and encouraging better cardiovascular function. However, the jury’s still out as to whether pets with heart disease benefit from diets formulated for cardiovascular health. Certainly, low-sodium diets are better for any pet, and there is some thought that omega-3 fatty acids can encourage healthy cardiovascular function.

Obesity Obesity contributes to a wide array of health issues in pets. Reducing your pet’s daily caloric intake is often done through portion control, as well as by eliminating treats and people food. In some cases, however, a diet that contains reduced calories, in combination with ingredients that support metabolic function, may be beneficial.

Kidney disease This is a very common condition affecting our feline friends. Most kidney prescription diets are low in phosphorus, which is a mineral that can cause electrolyte disturbances. A high quality protein is also essential in helping pets – both cats and dogs – who suffer from this disease.

Diabetes Among the more common prescription diets, diabetes is a condition that often benefits from a specialty diet. The meal formula focuses more on higher quality protein and a lower percentage of carbohydrates.

These are but a few specialty diets that focus on pets with medical conditions. Others include diets for skin health, cancer, and neurological conditions, like seizures.

The Bottom Line for Pets With Medical Conditions

While a high quality diet is recommended for all pets, the idea that a prescription diet alone can alleviate health problems is untrue. Rather than replace veterinary care entirely, providing the right diet is just one of many supports that should compose an effective treatment program. It’s also important to have an accurate diagnosis before embarking on any type of medical or trend diet. Nutrition and health can actually be negatively influenced by unwarranted changes.

If you believe your pet could benefit from supportive nutrition, please give us a call.