Introduction: As you are surely aware, there's been a great deal of experimentation, discovery, and research in nutrition in the last 50 years.
Some of this effort has resulted in diets that greatly improve the quality of life of patients suffering from different diseases.
Every few years there are important discoveries and ideas and a few years later we benefit from a new diet able to help manage, control, prevent, or minimize a disease problem.
In the case of pets, we are at an advantage over human nutritionists; we can easily control what our patients eat!
There are several top pet food companies that provide diets meant to treat or prevent different types of diseases.
That's great for us for obvious reasons...competition begets lower prices, more choice, and continued improvements as each company strives to out do the other.
Just so you know, the biggest companies sponsoring major research efforts and offering therapeutic diets have been consolidated and bought out by even larger companies over the last decade or so.
The companies we're going to be talking about also offer regular pet foods, premium pet foods, pet foods for different "life stages" (such as kittens v.s. senior), pet foods for different "life styles" (such as indoor pets v.s. working dogs) and all these companies market their regular pet foods under different names with different advertising targeting different markets.
But when it comes to true therapeutic diets ... sold only by veterinarians or with a prescription...
there's minimal marketing BS. The companies offering diets meant to treat diseases compete based on scientific food trials and spend a lot of effort trying to convince skeptical veterinarians to try their foods based on results.
The major companies offering true therapeutic diets are:
Hill's Prescriptions Diets now owned by Colgate Palmolive
Eukanuba makes some excellent diets (now owned by Proctor & Gamble but orginally a company started and owned by Paul Iams ... a business friend of my Dad back in the mid 1960's.
Purina Therapeutic Diets now owned by the Nestle Company of Switzerland
Royal Canin Therapeutic Diets originally owned by a French veterinarian and is earning a large part of the therapeutic diet market around the world, it's now owned by the Mar's Company who also bought out IVD and Waltham brands which are being discontinued. Mar's is the huge snack food company famous for M&M's, Snickers Bars, Dove Bars, and many more but almost half their business is from pet food.
At any rate, as of 2008, the companies above are the major providers in the world of pet diets needing a prescription.
Why a prescription?
These diets weren't meant for the average, healthy animal. They have been designed to effect changes in the pet's digestion, immune responses, blood pressure, kidney, liver metabolism or blood glucose levels.
They are sometimes meant to be given for life when pets have life long disease conditions like diabetes ... or they may be intended for limited periods.
Targeting specific medical disorders, therapeutic diets can benefit animals with such problems as food allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, urinary tract dysfunction, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease and even some forms of cancer. Patients with these problems often require certain nutrients to be added or eliminated from their diets.
Therefore, the misuse of specifically formulated therapeutic diets can be hazardous… and veterinarians need to be the responsible source of their distribution to the dog owner.
Click on any of the links below to go to the page describing the diets and/or supplements that are often recommended for certain disease conditions:
There are also therapeutic diets designed for liver disease, certain cancers, for recovery from major surgery and illness, and even brain disorders and senility. I'll try to provide you with information about these diets later.
God Bless, Roger Ross, DVM
With my Dad in the early 1960's