Prescription Diets Don’t Measure Up.
Watch out for these highly recommended pet foods because they don’t offer as much nutrition as you’d think. Prescription diets cost pet owners extreme amounts of money, but it just isn’t paying them back.
Pet owners are becoming more educated and as they do their standards are rising. Prescription pet foods don’t measure up to the new pet owner standards of quality nutrition and natural ingredients.
When the ingredient lists of prescription pet foods are compared to other pet foods on the market of similar price value, the ingredients of prescription diets do not show any specific medicinal qualities or health benefits over any other dog food available to pet food consumers.
In specific, there are five ways prescription diets don’t measure up to the new pet owner standards. Here’s what you should watch out for in prescription pet diets.
High Carbohydrate Formulas
Most pet owners are aware that too much sugar in human diets contributes to disease. This fact especially applies to dogs who have no nutritional requirements for sugar and starch, and are often very sensitive to their potential inflammatory effects.
However, prescription pet foods are often extremely high in carbohydrates, a combination of sugar, starch, and fiber.
Take a look at this video by pet nutrition blogger Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Becker where they talk about the sugar content of several popular brands of dog food including some veterinary diets.
Were you surprised at the amount of sugar in these foods?
Unfortunately, prescription pet feeds have high-glycemic loads which predispose your dog to diabetes and even rob him of certain vitamins.
High-carbohydrate diets do not contribute to health and healing, no matter what the food is marketed for.
High Fiber, Low Digestibility
Fiber is another nutrient prescription diets are especially high in. By boosting the grain content of the food these diets can contain much more fiber, reducing both calorie density for weight management and meat content for producing a cheaper product.
Unfortunately, this high amount of fiber doesn’t increase the nutritional value of the food. The more indigestible material goes in your dog’s mouth, the more will come back out. The body counts it as waste and expels it.
One of the high-fiber ingredients to watch for in prescription diet ingredient labels is cellulose.
“It’s sad to note that the only way we’ve been trained to judge the quality of dog food is stool consistency. While it could be a fair reflection of the digestibility of the nutrients in the food, in reality, pet food manufacturers know how to artificially thicken those stools by using ingredients like cellulose. Methylcellulose is a semi-synthetic complex carbohydrate that can absorb large quantities of water. It can work as a laxative with increased water consumption but without it, methylcellulose firms the stools. One of the most noticeable changes when switching from a prescription diet to raw food is the decrease in stool volume, due to a dramatic decrease in this waste ingredient. This would be a true indication of food digestibility!”
“Where’s the Beef?”
Remember the “Where’s the Beef?” Wendy’s commercial? That’s what we should be asking of these veterinary dog foods. Though the price of these diets is exorbitant, the quality of the feed doesn’t match the price.
High Price, Low Quality
- Dana Scott
“Recently a new client told me she had just purchased an eight pound bag of prescription diet for $28.00. I was aghast! It’s been awhile since I’ve been aware of how much these foods cost. I’m surely going to stop telling customers that raw foods cost more than kibble now!”
- Dr. Jodie Gruenstern
Producing a higher-quality, more nutritious, even healing diet should mean using more meat. We’re talking about feed dogs after all. However, there is no increase in the meat content of the food to cause the significant increase in price.
Consider the number of grains used in prescription pet foods. You often find large amounts of corn, soy, wheat and other grains in them. These ingredients are all likely to be GMO, a category of crops becoming known for their inflammatory effects.
Eating high amounts of grains, or grain alternatives such as potatoes and legumes puts a dog at risk for diabetes, leaky gut syndrome, allergies, skin diseases, arthritis, and cancer, because of their high glycemic loads, and anti-nutrients.
When Dr. Dee Blanco was asked to rate a veterinary prescription diet, she explained the effects of the ingredients like this:
Dr Dee Blanco: “This one starts with corn to increase inflammation, then adds lighter fluid to it with soybean products and poor quality protein. Then it tries to make up for the poor quality foundational ingredients by adding synthetic supplements of the poorest quality, such as calcium carbonate, folic acid, ‘generic Vit E supplement’, etc. Looks like they added l-tryptophan to calm the nervous system down after putting the body into overdrive inflammation.”
Safety and Efficacy Not Tested By FDA. Efficacy and Safety Left On Vets.
One of the downsides to prescription diets is the cost. You can easily spend seventy-five dollars on a small bag of prescription pet food. However, you do so with the hope that it will address your dog’s health condition.
While an over-the-counter food with a health claim (such as controls weight) is subject to FDA regulations and enforcement, the FDA practices “enforcement discretion” when it comes to veterinary diets.
Sadly, the cost does not reflect the quality of the product.
Though humorous, this video accurately depicts the prescription pet food situation in the pet feed industry.
Not Recommended for Long-Term Use
Did you know that prescription diets aren’t meant for long-term feeding?
These diets are often restricted in certain nutrients which, while it may benefit a certain health condition for a short time, will cause detrimental deficiency later on.
“Manufacturers of most prescription diets also caution against long-term feeding of their diets. Most of these diets are extremely restricted in specific nutrients and they are not intended to be fed long term, as significant deficiencies can develop. However, this caution is not commonly relayed to pet guardians.”
Never consider prescription diets as a life-long solution for your dog. If your dog is expected to live with his special health need you will need to find an alternative diet for the long-term.
Now let’s take a minute to evaluate one of these prescription diets ourselves.
Case in Point: Royal Canin’s Satiety Prescription Diet
A Satisfying prescription diet?
Royal Canin’s Satiety Support Prescription Diet claims to regulate the calories your dog eats for weight loss and to provide a blend of fibers to help your dog feel full.
Let’s analyze the make-up of this prescription dog food. The ingredient list for Royal Canin Satiety Support Prescription Diet reads:
Powdered Cellulose, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn, Wheat Gluten, Wheat, Corn Gluten Meal, Natural Flavors, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, Fish Oil, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Psyllium Seed Husk, L-Tyrosine, Fructooligosaccharides, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, L-Lysine, Salt, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Oxide, Glucosamine Hydrochloride, Marigold Extract (Tagetes Erecta L.), Vitamins [Dl-Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Source of Vitamin E), L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Biotin, Riboflavin Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid], L-Carnitine, Trace Minerals [Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Manganese Proteinate, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite, Copper Proteinate], Chondroitin Sulfate, Rosemary Extract, Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid.
Unfortunately, this prescription diet waves every red flag we’ve identified in this article.
First, a few quick calculations will give us the carbohydrate content of this dog food. The carb content works out to be 83%, including the fiber.
(Want to learn how to find the carbohydrate content of your dog food? Check out “Carbohydrates Contributing to Canine Disease” to see the quick calculation!)
We want you to see exactly how much of this dog food is made of grains. 83% of this feed is grain ingredients. The only two meat ingredients fit somewhere in the remaining 17% of the food, along with all the supplements.
Notice also that the food requires several amino acid supplements, including L-Tyrosine, L-Lysine, Taurine, and L-Carnitine. This is an indication that the meat content in this dog food is too insignificant to meet your dog’s daily requirements.
These proteins would be better supplied by meats which are rich in complete proteins.
Royal Canin’s Satiety diet is not satisfying at all, nor is any other prescription diet on the market. They are a far cry from satisfying your dog’s long-term dietary and instinctual needs for meat proteins and fats.
If your vet suggests putting your dog on a prescription diet, first ask your veterinarian if he/she knows what the ingredients in the suggested food are and what health benefits and/or risks they might have. If your vet does not know, hopefully, he/she will not recommend the product.
Second, take your time to research the diet. If you cannot find any ingredient or nutritional benefits in the prescription diet over cheaper brands, don’t buy it.
Prescription diets are likely to do your dog more harm than good, so instead of wasting money on prescription diet scams, we encourage you to choose from another dietary option.
Make A Personalized Homemade Diet
You can do this by doing your own research and using resources for homemade dog food like cookbooks from veterinarians.
Simply switching your dog to a low-carbohydrate diet filled with fresh, whole foods may solve many problems.
Personalizations can be made to your dog’s diet, such as including more or less fiber, regulating calories, boosting protein or fats, reducing carbohydrates, and more.
One great benefit of personally making your dog’s food is the ability to avoid food allergens. Many pet owners can attest to how hard it is just to find their dog’s food allergens. It is even harder sometimes to avoid those foods in commercial pet foods because of dishonest labeling.
For the picky canine, home-preparing meals will allow you to find foods that accommodate his tastes.
Also, check out the new DIY Recipes at Planet Paws! These awesome recipes cater to a variety of health conditions in dogs.
Certain foods and herbs benefit specific health conditions, body functions, and promote general wellness.
Find foods and herbs that address your dog’s specific dietary and health needs and make them a regular part of your dog’s meals.
For example, for the obese dog replacing part of your dog’s meal with leafy greens increases fiber and reduces calories. This helps your dog feel full on fewer calories while offering him a whole food source of vitamins and minerals.
For the diabetic dog, in addition to a low-glycemic diet, supplementing sardines and coconut oil adds valuable sources of energy and Omega 3’s for healthy skin, coat, nervous system, and brain function.
Senior dogs, growing puppies, sick dogs, and dogs with kidney disease all have a high requirement for careful amounts of complete and bioavailable proteins. Eggs rank #1 in protein digestibility at 100% digestible. Eggs can be a cheap and highly nutritious Healthy Addition for these dogs.
For the arthritic dog, bone broth is an excellent aid to supporting healthy joints by supplying gelatin and collagen. These protein groups build cartilage to protect aging joints.
Consult with a Holistic Veterinarian
Often you will find that Holistic Veterinarians are more open-minded to using your dog’s diet to heal in ways more natural than a highly processed prescription diet. These vets often put more time into learning about the canine diet and can offer you valuable help.
For Healthy & Satisfied Dogs!
– Cassy Kay
*Disclaimer: The information in this article is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified veterinarian. For any dog with a serious medical need please do not hesitate to consult a veterinarian who chooses natural dog care.
Note: Anyone interested in addressing their dog’s medical condition by utilizing the dog’s diet at home should do thorough research. See the articles listed below for further reading.
For further reading check out these articles:
Dr. Jodie saw many pets with recurring diseases while eating prescription diets. Here she breaks down the quality-crisis in prescription diets.
Gruenstern, Dr. Jodie. “Why Your Dog Doesn’t Need That Expensive Prescription Diet” dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2018. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/why-your-dog-doesnt-need-that-expensive-prescription-diet/
Dogs Naturally Magazine asked several veterinarians to rank four pet food labels, including one prescription diet. See what they had to say.
Scott, Dana. “Busted: Dogs naturally Calls Bull$hit On Prescription Diet Dog Food”dogsnaturallymagazine.com. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2018. https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/calling-bullhit-prescription-diet-dog-food/
Maria’s cat developed five health disorders, had to have a permanent feeding tube, and finally died… after being prescribed a veterinary diet for weight loss.
Thixton, Susan. “One Determined Owner” truthaboutpetfood.com. May 15, 2018. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2018. http://truthaboutpetfood.com/one-determined-pet-owner/
Did you know that prescription pet foods violate the law? Read this pet food consumer advocate’s article about a lawsuit against a prescription pet food to learn more.
Thixton, Susan. “What the Prescription Pet Food Lawyers Don’t Want You to Know” truthaboutpetfood.com. Apr. 12, 2017. Web. Accessed Aug. 9, 2018. http://truthaboutpetfood.com/what-the-prescription-pet-food-lawyers-dont-want-you-to-know/