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Specialized Dog Diets...What You Need to Know

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

There are different reasons why a dog may require a therapeutic or specialized diet. 

But as their guardian, what should you know?

Special K9 diets can effectively address a variety of issues but they should only be used under the direct supervision of your regular veterinarian. Feeding a special diet when not required by a definitive diagnosis can create new serious health issues for your canine. Any diet regularly fed to your dog needs to contain the proper amounts of protein, carbs, fats, vitamins and minerals for your dog’s overall well-being and optimal health. 

9 Dog Health Issues Which May Require a Therapeutic Diet

Diets with tailored nutrition are often required to address specific health or medical issues. But again, they should only be used under the direction of a veterinarian.

The 9 health conditions that may require a special diet include:

1. Weight loss

Dogs who are mildly to moderately overweight may be able to lose weight by just increasing their physical activity.

2. Joint health and issues

A healthy weight can also proactively address joint issues and stress.  

3. Bladder stones

A tailored diet can help prevent the formation of stones especially if your dog or his breed is prone to bladder stones.

4. Kidney disease

While a therapeutic diet won’t cure canine kidney disease, it can help slow it down. 

5. Allergies

Constant itchiness, skin and ear infections and stomach distress may be possible to resolve with diets that address:

  • Protein allergies

  • Environment allergies

  • Skin allergies

6. Heart disease

There are therapeutic diets for dogs with heart disease, but they are not recommended for all types of heart health. Work with your veterinarian for the best solution.

7. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea

Depending on the underlying cause, your vet may recommend a specific diet. 

8. Seizures

New science indicates diets specifically formulated for brain health may benefit dogs with seizures. 

9. Dementia

Diets formulated for neurologic health may also help with K9 cognitive dysfunction or dementia. 

Highly Active Dogs Need Adapted Nutrition

Active working dogs may require an enhanced diet. Typical commercial dog foods do not contain enhanced levels of nutrition to support hours of daily exercise or activity. Special diets are not required for the average dog whose main activity revolves around walks. 

Dogs who need extra nutritional support (protein and fats) include those who:

  • Are regularly athletic or competing

  • Engage in daily hunting

  • Do herding every day 

  • Run trails every day

Highly active canines also need additional antioxidant support because excess exercise causes more free radicals. Supplementation can help address, slow down and even stop additional cellular damage from free radicals. (The build-up of free radicals could cause cancer.)

Living in a Multi-Dog or Pet Household

If your household has several dogs (or pets) with different nutritional needs, it’s important to separate them at feeding time to make sure they are eating the correct diet for their health and activity. Also, keep all food (including special diets) out of reach of curious noses and mouths!

If your dog has been prescribed a therapeutic diet, do not feed them other foods or even human food. The tailored diet should be your dog’s exclusive source of nutrition. 

Our dogs need our support in so many areas including nutrition. By working closely with your regular veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian, you can ensure your dog has what he needs to effectively support his overall well-being and quality of life!

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