Veterinary therapeutic and wellness pet nutrition products are designed to meet specific nutritional needs of pets with specific types of disease conditions. They are designed to be used under the direction and supervision of a veterinarian. These products often contain the statement “use only as directed by your veterinarian.” The food must include a supplemental feeding statement or the appropriate life stage claim according to The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines.
Types of diseases that therapeutic pet nutrition diets are designed to help support
There are numerous disease conditions in pets for which therapeutic diets are indicated and designed for. Therapeutic diets exist for dogs and cats with digestive disorders, renal (kidney) disease, heart disease, liver disease, dental disease, urinary bladder stones, diabetes mellitus, allergies, arthritis, and obesity. There are a number of companies that have developed therapeutic diets, including Hill’s, Purina, Royal Canin, and Iams.
Goal of therapeutic and wellness pet nutrition products
Therapeutic diets are formulated as nutritional support in the dietary management of certain disease conditions in pets. A therapeutic diet is designed to provide the proper balance of total nutrients and at the same time meet the special dietary needs of the pet. For example, pets with digestive problems, such as gastritis, ulcers, colitis or diarrhea are often fed bland diets with easily digested foods that do not irritate the digestive tract. These diets tend to be low residue in nature, eliminating foods high in bulk or fiber such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Diets for animals with renal (kidney) disease typically have low protein that is of high quality, low phosphorus, and may be supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.
Introducing therapeutic and wellness pet nutrition products to your pet
Changing to a new pet nutrition product should take place gradually over several days to weeks. This improves your pet’s acceptance of the new diet and decreases the likelihood of problems in pets that cannot rapidly adjust to a new diet. The pet should typically be maintained on a familiar form of food (e.g. dry, moist or a combination), as it is likely that is what your pet prefers. Many people think pets prefer moist food compared to dry food, but that is not necessarily true. It is usually necessary to limit access to other foods such as treats or other household pet’s food to improve acceptability. Medications should not be mixed with the diet, particularly those that have a disagreeable taste.
Sometimes, therapeutic and wellness diets may not be as tasty as the old diet. For example, therapeutic diets for renal (kidney) disease are low in protein, which is thought to be less palatable, especially for cats. Diets can be made more appetizing by warming them or adding liquids such as chicken broth, tuna juice, clam juice, or low-sodium soup. Other ingredients such as garlic, brewer’s yeast or in the case of dogs, sweeteners (honey or syrup) can be considered, however, your veterinarian should be consulted prior to adding additional ingredients to the diet.