Dog Food Prescription Diet : When It's Good & When It's Not

The dog food prescription diet was born almost 70 years ago when a veterinarian named Mark Morris, Sr. decided to change a sick dog’s diet instead of prescribing medication.The patient had a form of kidney disease, so Mr. Morris simply created a diet that would go easy on the dog’s kidneys.

And guess what...

It worked!

A dog food prescription diet, also called a “therapeutic” diet, is only available through your veterinarian and is used to treat a specific disease or disorder.

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It is often used in conjunction with other forms of alternative medicine for dogs to allow the dog’s body to naturally heal itself.

Below we'll review common dog food therapeutic diet questions,  including:

A note about cost... A prescription diet can be much more expensive than regular dog food, but it’s worth it! Look at it this way: What would you be spending on a prescription drug that may just be helping the symptoms and NOT the actual ailment?

You’ll know you’re looking at a dog food prescription product if the label explicitly states that it must be prescribed by a veterinarian. 

There’s no use looking in your local pet store, as you won’t be able to buy any without the involvement of your vet or animal hospital – and for good reason.

Can a Healthy Dog Eat a Dog Food Prescription Diet?

You should ONLY feed your dog a therapeutic diet if directed to do so by your vet and only for a prescribed amount of time. Therapeutic diets have different levels of nutrients than are needed by a typical dog, so feeding them to healthy dogs could throw their body out of whack.

For example, a vet may prescribe a low protein diet for an older dog suffering from kidney failure. If you were to feed that same diet to a growing puppy, it would be extremely detrimental as protein is the most important nutrient for proper growth.

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Conditions Helped by a Dog Food Therapeutic Diet

Your dog may be a candidate for a prescription diet if he or she has any of the following conditions.

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If you want to find out for sure whether your dog's symptoms could be improved through this kind of diet (along with what other options there are for your dog), you can also ask a vet online directly via My Online Vet (links to dog food questions submitted by other visitors can be found at the bottom of this page).

Age related disorders Hypertension
Dog bladder health Immune response
Blood glucose levels Intestinal disorders
Blood pressure Kidney conditions
Dog cancer Limping or mobility problems
Dog dental hygiene (gum disease, plaque, tartar and fresh breath) Liver problems
Dog diabetes Renal disease
Digestive problems (such as
Dog diarrhea, dog constipation and dog vomiting)
Dog skin conditions
Dog food allergy and dog food
Urinary health
Healing Dog weight control
Heart conditions

Go to our Common Dog Health Problems & Natural Remedies page to see a list of common dog ailments and the best at-home remedies.

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Companies that Make Dog Food Prescription Diet Products

The three largest manufacturers of therapeutic diets for dogs are:

  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition is the largest– they call their brand “Prescription Diet”
  • Eukanuba Veterinary Diets (Iams Company)
  • Royal Canin Therapeutic Diets
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Types of Prescription Diet Products

Therapeutic diets come in canned, dry and biscuit forms.

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10 best dog foodCan't find your answer on this page? Our veterinarians will answer your specific question no later than tomorrow... click here to ask a veterinarian via My Online Vet.

You can also review related questions from other visitors here: Ask a Vet Online Library - Dog Food Diet - Dog Food, Dog Treats & Homemade Dog Food Recipes Section

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