Prescription diets: when your pet needs them

Most pet owners have seen bags of ‘prescription diet’ food at their veterinary surgery but what exactly is a ‘prescription diet’ and when does your pet need it?

Prescription diets are recommended for pets suffering from age-related ailments, injuries or allergies where nutrition is essential to the healing process. These include urinary complaints, skin and food allergies, diabetes, kidney issues, digestive sensitivities, cardiac health, weight loss and even cancer.

Here are some of the more common prescription diets vets will prescribe:

Foods for kidney failure

Dogs suffering from kidney failure need to eat a food that contains moderate amounts of protein that is of the highest possible quality. This helps to reduce the formation of toxic metabolites and support muscle maintenance. Reduced phosphorous and sodium levels are also important.

Foods for allergies

Allergies in pets are more common than we think. Dogs and cats will present with itchy skin conditions, biting at their fur or licking continuously at one spot. There are several possible causes including food, fleas, and the environment (pollen, mould spores, dust mites). Your vet will need to determine which is affecting your pet.  Nutrition support helps to quickly calm sensitive skin. It can also get to the root of the problem by helping identify the cause (such as a food sensitivity). Food with plenty of essential fatty acids supports a healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Foods for gastrointestinal conditions

Some gastrointestinal disorders be managed with a highly digestible diet. These are often low in fibre and fat. Other conditions improve when dogs eat high fibre foods. Picking the right gastrointestinal diet depends on what specific disease a dog has been diagnosed with and sometimes a bit of trial and error.

Foods for joint disease

Dogs that show difficulty moving, stiffness when getting up from sleeping or a reluctance to walk may be suffering from joint disease. Your vet may recommend food that is enriched with omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and antioxidants which promotes joint health that isn’t calorie rich, so he/she won’t get fat. Some foods may even help reduce the level of discomfort to such an extent that painkillers can be reduced. That reduces the risk of harmful side effects associated with the long term prescription of painkillers.

Foods for weight loss/maintenance

Up to 50% of all South African pets are either overweight or obese. Keeping your pet slim can extend their life by up to 2 years, and will help to maintain their ability to play, run, and enjoy life. EberVet Pet Clinic and Country Animal Clinic are participants in the Hill’s Pet Slimmer Programme. We offer ongoing support, motivation and advice to pet owners with overweight pets. We prescribe the right food for your pet, encourage regular weigh-ins so that your pet’s progress is monitored, and recommend adjustments as they go along to ensure steady weight loss. Plus, there are some great rewards for your slimming pet on enrolment, and as milestones are achieved. Ask at reception for more information.

Foods for brain changes associated with ageing

Foods with high levels of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help protect the brain against the damage caused by free radicals. They also help to optimise an older dog’s mental functions.


Foods for lower urinary tract disease

Dogs that have a history of urinary crystals and stones are at high risk for recurrence. Feeding them a food that promotes the formation of dilute urine (canned is best) and an optimal urinary pH, and contains reduced amounts of the substances that form crystals and stones can help with prevention.