Do Prescription Pet Food Diets Work?

Dr. Dym recommends focusing on the quality of the ingredients that you feed your pet One of the more common questions I get from the 1800PetMeds customers is whether the prescription diet recommended by their veterinarian is absolutely necessary to feed, and/or whether there are any other dietary options available for their pets. It is first important to recognize that if there were any one diet that was a solution for all of our pets’ health issues, that all veterinarians would sell one particular diet.

In fact, many years ago there was only one prescription diet sold by most veterinarians. Now there are several competing companies touting various diets to treat and prevent urinary problems, digestive problems, skin allergies, as well as joint problems to name just a few. It is also important to recognize that most conventional veterinarians receive very little nutritional training in veterinary school, and many times are simply recommending what pet food sales representatives are telling them, rather than what they learned in veterinary school or from veterinary nutritionists.

I often tell my clients that if a particular antibiotic or particular commercial diet solved urinary crystal problems in cats or dogs, I would be the first in line to recommend only that diet. However, because of my concern about feeding lower quality diets over the life of an animal and the potential negative health consequences, I often stress quality of ingredients rather than specific ingredients found in many of these commercial diets.

Natural pet food companies such as Wysong offer natural alternatives such as Uretic diet for those pets prone to struvite crystals. There are also excellent resources for proper homemade diet recipes including books by Donald Strombeck, PhD, and Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD. No matter which diet one feeds their particular pet with a chronic health problem, it is important to be under the care of a knowledgeable veterinarian.

Has your vet recommended one diet or pet food to help with your pet’s health concerns?

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  1. The vet where i live put my 21/2 year old cat on science diet cd for crystals in his urine and repeat uti’s. Is there any thing that petmeds sells that you would suggest?

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    1800petmeds may be carrying prescription diets very soon like C/D, but I would stick with all wet food diets for cats with this problem. Preferably home made raw meat based diets are best in my 22 plus years of experience. To learn more see the book The Natural Cat By Anitra Frazier, as well as my website

  3. Hello & thank you for this article. My dog Peanut had a physical exam with a full blood panel and urinalysis (he’s a shelter rescue shih tzu probably about 8 years old). He did NOT have a UTI or any problems with peeing. My vet said that the blood work was normal but the urinalysis revealed struvite crystals (2+). My vet suggested that he be put on Science Diet S/D to dissolve the crystals. I’m not thrilled with these ingredients and my dog is finicky and I’m concerned that he’s not going to eat this food (and lose weight as a result). Do you have a recommendation for a food or diet that would specifically dissolve these crystals? The vet said that Peanut would have to be on the food for about 2-3 months. There is no evidence that Peanut has bladder stones at this time. I’m very concerned about the crummy ingredients in Science Diet S/D. Thank you in advance.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Try home made diet for crystal dissolving in book by Donald Strombeck, phd on canine diets which you can google on line

  5. That’s great. Will do. Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my question.

  6. I have a 3 year old yorkie shi tzu mix who is allergic to fleas and cats. I live in a tropical climate where fleas are inevitable. My doctor has the dog on prednisone however, it causes her excessive weight gain & quenching thirst which also results in bathroom problems. Is there a better alternative?

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 14, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    You can try antihistamine such as chlorphenirimine from 1800petmeds at dose of 4 mg twice daily, or you could try zyrtec at dose of 2.5 to 5 mg once daily. Also add fatty acid like be well to meals from 1800petmeds.

  8. I have an 11 yr old 20 pound cat that was diagnosed with diabetes about 7 months ago. As prescribed by my vet, I had been giving him 2 units of Vetsulin twice a day (between 6-7am and again between 6-7pm). The vet recommended feeding him Hills Prescription diet- Metabolic food. We tried canned and dry and we were having trouble getting him to eat enough food to be able to give him his insulin. I finally gave up and switched back to his regular food, Royal Canin -Special 33. (at least he ate enough so I could give him his insulin) He was doing fine with this and his glucose checks were good.

    Yesterday it was apparent to us that his diabetes was not under control. (excessive drinking/peeing and having a hard time getting his back legs to work properly.)

    I brought him back to the vet at 9 am and they did a glucose check and his first reading was 143. They asked to keep him for the day and by the 10:00 check his glucose check was 435 and then was close to 500 by the last check around 4 pm. They have upped his Vetsulin to 3 units twice a day. Now they want us to try Royal Canin Weight control food. This morning I mixed it with his regular food and had to really work to get him to eat enough so he could have his insulin shot. (he only had to eat ¼ cup to get the shot and is supposed to eat ½ cup 2X a day.)

    I’ve been searching the web for food alternative that I might be able to try that would help with his Diabetes and that he would eat. I read the string of questions/replies. Is there a good reference/website on home made diets for diabetic cats? Or would agree with the food the vet recommended we try? Or is there something better that I should be using? My main goal is to find something that he will eat, so he can continue to get his injections on a regular basis and start dropping some weight.

    We want whats best for him and want to see him be with us for a long time.

  9. We have a 13 year old diabetic beagle. After reading about dog food containing euthanized pets and high fecal content in some commercial foods, I began making homemade. I’ve been using 2 pounds of ground turkey, 1 lb of carrots, 1 lb. of celery, one lb. of frozen green beans, 1 cup of rice and turkey carcass stock. I feed one cup in the morning and 1/2 cup at bedtime. Question, should I do away with the rice completely? We have in addition to this dog, another 13 year old beagle/basset cross, a 12 year old beagle and a 2 year. This diet seems to be working in relation to weight loss.

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    HI Gail. The rice is ok, although I would prefer a different low glycemic grain. Otherwise the diet sounds great. I would make sure diet is balanced for all nutrients. See my friend Chef Loreen Playford’s website at for list of home recipes. Email Loreen and use my name if you have any questions.

  11. I have a 8 year old Yorki-poo that has separation anxiety and had bleeding ulcers last year when she lost her companion dog (a 180 lb English mastiff). She is currently on reconcile 8 mg and on Hill prescription diet I/D canned food. If she even gets a bite of different food, she gets bloody diarrhea. Is there anything different I can do for her to keep her healthy?

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 2, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    HI Lisa, I would love to try and treat your dog with chronic constitutional homeopathy for all of these problems, instead of keeping her on processed commercial diets as well as strong drugs like reconcile. To learn more about homeopathy get the book Dr Pitcairns guide to natural health for dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, dVM, phd as well as see the booklet on the website Also see my website Many homeopathic vets like myself do offer phone consultations nationwide.

  13. I have a 14 1/2 yr old chow/golden Shepard /lab….a little over 2 years ago, my vet, holistic ,Chinese and has his own pharmacy…said he had cushings disease … Started him on 4 pills in AM 4 PM…. Plus 8 pills a day for his hips….2 serious issues….but hanging in there…. But I can’t get him back to the vet anymore ,seeing its impossible to get him the car w/o great discomfort…so I called a vet I used years ago that does house calls …did a blood test….upon reviewing his charts he said that even though the indicators said cushings was possible, he was never tested for cushings….but he was more concerned about the elevated kidney levels and said I should give him prescription diet RL…..I see you don’t highly tout prescription diet …. What’s your recommendation? How about for his aging hips? I know at almost 15 he’s hanging in there … And every dog owner believes their dogs the best , well I saved him and he saved me….enough said .I need to make sure I do the right thing by him now…. Can you help with the confusion ? Thank you !

  14. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I am not fan of processed commercial diets when clients have been raising dogs holistically. I would prefer a home prepared low protein kidney diet, like the one listed in the book Dr Pitcairn’s guide to natural health for dogs and cats by Richard Pitcairn, dvm, phd.. As for other questions I would recommend consulting with another holistic vet. To find on in your area/state and/or who also may do phone consultations, go to Good luck

  15. I have two cats that are on Science Diet Cd cat food. It is expensive, but it has helped. One cat is a female15 years old and the other is a male cat that is12 years old. I am looking for an alternative cat food that is cheaper and I can get easier. Any recommendations?

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 26, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I would follow your vet’s recommendations regarding food I am also fan of uretic diet by Wysong from 1800petmeds for pets with crystals, urinary issues, etc I like the ingredients in this food.

  17. My eight year old chihuahua has been on hydrolyzed protein prescription diets and prednisone off and on for the last 3 years. I am so concerned about this…right now, because he has had a flare up of PLE his vet.specialist has placed him on 2.5 mgs of prednisone and Royal Canin hydrolyzed protein. I have had enough and have transitioned him over to a new protein source food, Nutri Source turkey grain free diet. He is still on the prednison however and tylosin powder antibiotic.
    I need advice please!

  18. Why no reply to my question?

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Sorry to be so late in getting back to you Kathryn, but in this case, I would ask your vet possibility about adding the drug atopica or cyclosporine, which can often help with PLE management and in lessening pred doses. Also consider supplement Seacure, which I have found helpful as well in these cases.

  20. I have an 8 year old cat who’s had urinary issues her whole life. She’s on Prozac for her anxieties over using the littler box. She used to get UTI’s and eventually had bladder stones before I switched her diet to Wellness. After one bad batch from Wellness (caused peeing outside the box and diarrhea) I did more research and came across Tikki Cat. She started leaking urine in her sleep years ago and has been on Proin for that, it didn’t completely stop it so I added in some Homeo LeaksNoMore and that did the trick for a while. She’s now leaking very small amounts of urine whenever she sits or rests and also started leaking her anal glands (yay). I’ve been told she needs to go on a prescription diet from my vet long ago, they even tried blaming her leaking when it started on me not following their direction but I’ve done tons of research (and paid for MANY tests to appease them). Now I’m wondering if I should consider it, however, since I no longer seem to have her issues managed. Help me!! She’s the sweetest cat otherwise! I will try anything.

  21. Incase it’s relevant to anything.. she had her tail amputated as it was ‘dead’ when we found her.

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  23. Our cat Barron is dying. He’s been eating weight control WD. He had diabetes now he has lung cancer they told us and that he doesn’t have much time to live. Do you think the WD cat food has anything to do with it.?

  24. Hi Millicent. I’m so very sorry that Barron is ill. Your vet can probably put your mind at ease about this; however, if you’d like you can submit your inquiry to holistic veterinarian Dr. Dym using our Ask the Vet form. Give Barron a gentle hug for me.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

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