Veterinary diets are an essential tool in managing many common health conditions for our pets. These are diets that have been formulated to treat specific health concerns and are prescribed by your veterinarian. The pet food manufactures who develop veterinary diets do extensive testing and research to create an optimal formula that will best manage your pet’s specific health concern. Since the diets are carefully balanced it is important to tell your veterinarian about any additional supplements or treats that you give your pet as these may make the diets less effective.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, only seven percent of pets that could benefit from a therapeutic food are actually fed one. Let’s look at few specific heath conditions and how a veterinary diet helps manage these common ailments of dogs and cats.
A common ailment for many dogs and cats is arthritis, which can be a source of chronic pain and negatively affect their quality of life. This is an important disease to be aware of, as there are many treatment options to prevent arthritis from developing as well as treat it once arthritis has set in. Arthritis occurs when there is instability of a joint. This causes the bones to rub against each other abnormally. The constant wear will erode the cartilage and eventually lead to bone rubbing on bone, which results in inflammation and is very painful. This is what leads to arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease.
There are many options in managing arthritis and often times using a combination of therapies will be the best bet in making your pet as comfortable as possible. A veterinary joint diet is one of these options that have been clinically proven to decrease inflammation in joints, which leads to greater comfort and slows progression of disease. In fact, a study done on one particular joint diet showed that dogs fed this diet had improved ability to run, walk and jump in as little as 21 days without any additional treatment.
The formation of bladder and kidney stones in dogs and cats is another condition that is commonly treated with diet. There are several different types of stones that form in specific conditions within the urinary system. A veterinary diet is the ideal way to possibly dissolve the stones as well as try to prevent them from returning. When feeding these specific veterinary diets it is essential that you not add any treats, supplements or foods as this can result in a diet failure leading to bladder and kidney stones.
Kidney friendly diets are formulated to help decrease the workload on failing kidneys to help preserve function. By the time a patient presents with elevated kidney values on blood-work they have already lost more than two thirds of their kidney function. The veterinary kidney diets have specific levels of protein and nutrients that have been shown in clinical trials to slow progression of the disease resulting in better quality of life and longer survival times.
It is estimated that over fifty percent of dogs and cats are considered overweight or obese (see the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention for details). This is a staggering statistic and one that greatly affects not only the quality of life of our companion animals but their expected lifespan as well. Obesity can result in joint disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer. Just like in people, to lose weight one needs to cut calories and increase activity to burn more calories. However, simply switching to an over the counter weight management diet isn’t always enough to help our pets shed the weight. This is where a veterinary diet becomes essential to help get your pet fit and trim. Again, these diets have been clinically proven to work with your pet’s metabolism and gene expression to ramp up weight loss and drop pounds.
Veterinary diets are a wonderful resource to help manage many health concerns for both dogs and cats. It is a very easy way to treat disease since you already have to feed your pet daily. Making your pet’s diet part of the treatment plan just makes sense. Just like with medications you will need a prescription from your veterinarian for any of the therapeutic diets. If you have any questions or concerns about a specific health issue, speak with your veterinarian, the best person to guide your decision on what to feed your beloved pet.
Ashley Gallagher, DVM