In Defense of Veterinary Diets

There is a lot of information out there these days about the dangers of food additives, dyes and artificial ingredients. Current pet food trends include “grain-free” diets or have novel ingredients like quinoa, cranberry, lentils, or meats like bison and alligator, and even vegetarian and vegan options. As with all new and trendy concepts – there is usually a swing too far in the wrong direction.

Maybe the grain-free diets stemmed from human concerns of too much grain or gluten in the diet. However, our canine companions are omnivores, and grains make up a valuable component in their diet. So much so that there is current research linking some diets to a potentially lethal form of heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy – or DCM for short. The problem appears to be linked to an amino acid called taurine- through the deficiency, problems with synthesis, or abnormal metabolism. More research is being done on this topic.

This problem has not only been linked to grain-free diets – but also to “boutique” type diets with novel ingredients, such as vegetarian and vegan diets, as well as homemade diets.

These diets are often more expensive than traditional diets – and come at an increased risk to your pup’s health.

Not to say each diet doesn’t have an appropriate use – some pets are allergic to common ingredients and require special diets. Some have liver problems/dysfunction may require a vegetarian diet.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had trusted, well-balanced diets that could even treat some common illnesses in our furry friends? Here’s the best part – we do. Veterinary diets, sold in veterinary clinics, have been developed with our patients in mind. Ensuring they get the best nutrition possible, with lots of research to back them up. Not all animals require special formulations, but it’s worth talking to your veterinarian to see if your pet may benefit from a specific formulation.

Some examples of popular formulas include:

1) Urinary diets.
Cats can be prone to forming crystals in their urine, leading to painful (and expensive) troubles in the litterbox. It is such a common issue that these formulas are available in a variety of flavours and formats (dry, pate, chunks in gravy). They are also targeted for more easily stressed cats, and for those that may be overweight. You can even get formulations for cats with allergies. Small dogs can be prone to forming bladder stones. There are formulas that can help dissolve stones and prevent new stones in order to avoid invasive surgery.

2) Allergy diets/skin diets.
Dogs that suffer from itchy feet, chronic ear infections, and chronic skin infections may be good candidates for an allergy food diet. They contain well balanced limited ingredients (and are guaranteed not to contain other protein sources), or hydrolyzed proteins (not recognized as an allergen). We even have formulas for cats.

3) Gastrointestinal diets.
Some pets can be prone to stress-related diarrhea, occasional vomiting, or chronic soft stool, which may indicate some sensitive digestive systems. Veterinary diets can take the extra hassle of adding probiotics and/or fibre to your pet’s food – and include them right in the bag or can!

These are only just a few examples, and the options are quite extensive. It’s worth checking out at your next visit if you think your pet may be a candidate for a targeted diet. You get the added benefit of knowing you’re making safe and healthy choices for your pet.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 902.225.7543.

Written by: Dr. Cassie Brown, DVM