Veterinarians are experts in diagnosing and treating a variety of medical conditions in pets. In some cases, they may recommend certain foods to help with specific health issues, such as digestive problems or skin conditions. These therapeutic foods can be prescribed to treat a range of conditions. It's common for pet owners to purchase these diets online or at retail pet stores with a prescription, just like many medications.
This is why pet food manufacturers fund veterinary training programs and subsidize veterinary school clinics. If a pet has a health condition that requires a special diet, the veterinarian should closely monitor it, even if the diet contains levels of nutrients that are safe for healthy pets. If pet owners want to take a DIY approach, they should call the food companies, describe their pets' medical conditions in detail, and seek dietary advice from a qualified veterinary nutritionist. They can also consult websites like Dogfoodadvisor, which interpret labels and provide food recommendations.
Sometimes, vets may recommend an over-the-counter test diet or a limited-ingredient diet to help pets with gastrointestinal, allergic, autoimmune, neoplastic, or metabolic diseases. In these cases, it's important to understand that the vet is not necessarily trying to make money by selling these diets; they are doing it for the convenience of their customers. When a dog is seriously ill, vets may suggest a specific Royal Canin food, even though it is expensive for large dogs. This is because these therapeutic diets may contain levels of nutrients below what is legally allowed to sell to healthy pets without medical conditions.
If pet owners are unsure about the food they are giving their pets, they should ask their vet what makes the diet different from those available at pet stores. Vets may be more confident that the food has been proven to be balanced and complete than companies that don't hire veterinary nutritionists to make their food.