The Truth about Veterinarian Prescription Diets

Nov 5, 2018   Tracey Aston   Diet and Nutrition

As with us, proper nutrition plays a vital role in the health of our pets and we want to provide the very best quality food that we can for them. When our pets have special diet needs, illnesses or diseases, our veterinarians are quick to recommend a prescription diet for our pets and we think we are doing the right thing for our beloved fur babies. However, more and more research into prescription diets and their ingredient list might show the exact opposite.

Thinking they're doing the best of their pets, most pet parents believe their veterinarian to be the most qualified to lend advice on nutrition. However, most veterinarians only receive a basic - normally one semester -course on pet nutrition needs. The one basic course that veterinarians do get it taught is by pet food giant, Purina.  After their basic course, most veterinarians get their information from pet food manufactures and sales persons, whose information is highly biased and not always correct. The article “Busted: Dogs Naturally Calls Bull$hit On Prescription Diet Dog Food” featured in Dog's Naturally website, proves that vets wouldn't recommend prescription diets based on the ingredient list without knowing the pet foods name.

The words ‘prescription diet' might make you think there are medications or special ingredients in the food, but the truth is, there are no ingredients in prescription food that's not commonly found in other non-prescription pet diets.  The fact remains, prescription diets are high in grains and poor protein quality fillers, with several listing corn and by-product meal as their first ingredient.  Would you be surprised to know that the manufacturers of these prescription diets are the same manufactures of lower quality grocery store foods? It's true!

Prescription diets are based on amino acid or protein levels but not quality of the food.  Too much protein can make the body work more, so they cut down the protein, but the problem is the body needs “good” protein.  Just because the food is lower in protein, doesn't mean that it's good protein.  These diets are supplementing with chemicals and by products to build up more protein. For example, there is a prescription food for kidney disease that is prescribed to a lot of animals with kidney damage or kidney failure.  Being the purpose of the kidneys is to remove toxins from the body, why feed a pet food filled with by-products, fillers and chemicals?  Doing so only makes the kidneys work harder, causing more work and damage for the kidneys which can accelerate these conditions. Our pets need moisture for proper kidney function, so why do the prescription diets have lower moisture content than other leading canned food?

A lawsuit filed in California listed Hill's Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet, and Iams Veterinary Formula as defendants, claiming they falsely promote “prescription” pet food.  The complaint points out there's no reason for the foods to require a prescription, since they contain no drug or other ingredient not commonly found in non-prescription pet diets. These prescription diets can't say their products “prevent” or “treat” anything, as those are medical claims. Instead, they use vague verbs such as “support” or “promote.” Because they do not make medical claims, the makers of these foods are not required to prove that their products actually do what they say they do.

The best foods for your pet are raw or home cooked, but your vet will be against this because of their one semester nutritional background.  Our pets are carnivores; their teeth are sharp to tear apart meat. Vets are against feeding table scraps or people food to our pets, which is the better healthier alternative to help our pets thrive. If you are changing to a raw or home cooked diet, it needs to be nutritionally balanced and contain protein, fruits and vegetables.

There is better quality kibble than a prescription diet, but please consider, do you think your pet should wake up and have the same exact meal its entire life? How is that nutritionally balanced? Pet parents like convenience, because it's easier to scoop out kibble to feed our pets, but to expect our pets to thrive on the same chemically processed food every day is not fair for the pet.  If there was a box called people food on the shelf, would you scoop out of that and eat the same thing for 3 meals a day for your entire life?

A lot of people, even vet techs, believe that because it's called Hill's Science diet, they are investing money in science and research to make a better, healthier product.  That's untrue. By not spending money on the science or research, and using less quality food and fillers, they stand to make the biggest profit.  Yes, big companies value profit over the health of our pets!

If your vet advises that your pet needs a prescription diet, read the ingredient list with them and ask questions. Knowledge is power!  Be sure to visit the dog food advisor website to check nutritional analysis and ingredient lists of each pet food and to also check for recalls. 

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