It's a common misconception that veterinarians make a lot of money from selling prescription pet food. In reality, the profit margin of therapeutic pet foods is usually lower than that of most store-bought pet foods. Many vets offer these diets more for the convenience of their customers than to generate income, and pet owners can often purchase them online or in retail pet stores with a prescription. But do these diets actually contain higher quality ingredients than regular pet food? To answer this question, I consulted with pet food expert Marion Smart, PhD.
She suggested I compare four pet food ingredient labels, one of which was a veterinary diet. I then asked some of my vet friends to list which foods they thought were supermarket foods and which were premium foods. The results were surprising: our vets didn't believe that the ingredients in the prescribed diet were of higher quality than those in regular diets. In fact, the same company that produces lower quality foods such as Alpo and Beneful also makes prescription diets.
It's important to note that even if a pet has a health condition that requires a special diet, the FDA has not reviewed or verified any health claims associated with veterinary diets. Therefore, it's essential for veterinarians to closely monitor their patients' health even if they are on a therapeutic diet.Ultimately, it's up to pet owners to decide whether or not to purchase prescription pet food. While an over-the-counter food with a health claim is subject to FDA rules and regulations, the FDA practices “compliance discretion” when it comes to veterinary diets.