Prescription dog foods are specially and scientifically formulated foods that meet the specific health needs of your dog. Also known as veterinarian dog foods, these are meant to deal with pain or other health concerns that your dog might be suffering from.
Prescription dog foods, just like off-the-shelf dog foods, are available to consumers without a prescription from the veterinarian – despite what their name indicates.
If your dog is suffering from a severe chronic illness or just had surgery, the veterinarian might prescribe a prescription dog food that supports your dog during the health recovery process. These foods are made by a variety of manufacturers. The food types are also different with varying ingredients to address different illnesses, allergies, etc. Prescription dog foods must be chosen well and fed with proper instructions from the vet only.
10 Best Prescription Dog Foods Brands
The following are the top 10 product ranges, brought forth by reputed individual manufacturers. Each range of prescription diet dog food comprises several products, each of which targets specific diseases and health problems.
Here is a list of the 10 best prescription dog foods.
1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet
The Royal Canin Canine Veterinary Diet is a popular range of prescription dog foods that are prescribed by your vet. Formulated for specific needs, this range of foods supports obesity management, renal function, mobility, digestive problems and intolerances, skincare, and many more. Some of the well-known products within this range are as follows:
Hypoallergenic is prescribed for dogs with a food allergy, Adverse Food Reactions, gastrointestinal signs, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic diarrhea, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Its hydrolyzed protein isolate content is composed of weight peptides and low molecular weight assists in digestion with very low allergenicity. The omega-3 long-chain fatty acids, on the other hand, support intestinal mucosal integrity. The food contains a combination of prebiotics, rice, beet pulp, rice, fish oil, and highly digestible proteins as the primary ingredients.
Cardiac helps dogs with heart diseases and hypertension. The food contains Polyphenols that contribute to vasodilatation and also neutralize free radicals. It improves the electrolyte balance by means of restricting Sodium and balancing the Potassium and Magnesium to optimum levels. A moderate amount of Phosphorus provides renal support and prevents Chronic Renal Failure. The Taurine and L-carnitine content, on the other hand, enhances heart contractility and myocyte function.
Calm is yet another special formula from the range and it works towards helping adult dogs manage and control difficult situations and stress-related dermatological and digestive signs and symptoms. The food contains a-S1 casein hydrolysate of milk origin, which acts as a serotonin precursor in regulating stress, sleep, and appetite in dogs.
Hepatic helps dogs with Chronic Hepatitis, Hepatic Encephalopathy, Portosystemic Shunt, and Copper Metabolism Disorders. It contains highly digestible vegetable proteins that are better tolerated by dogs suffering from these issues. The synergistic antioxidant complex helps considerably in slowing down hepatocyte degradation.
Diabetic with its potential for glucomodulation and mixed cereals for low glycaemic index enables controlling postprandial hyperglycemia. It promises high protein levels that promote lean muscle mass while the antioxidant complex allows combating oxidative stress, caused by Diabetes Mellitus.
- A wide range of prescription dog foods is available.
- The dog food is available in dry and wet variants.
- The dog food is available as per the breed size and age of the dogs.
- They have their own manufacturing units for dog food production which assures its quality
- It is recommended by veterinarians.
- They design every dog food after proper nutritional research.
- Limited flavor options in sensitive diets are not suitable for picky eaters.
- They have had a few recalls over the years for the presence of melamine in their dog food.
- The source of the raw ingredients they use is unknown.
2. Hill's Prescription Diet
The Hill’s Prescription Diet range is yet another popular and much preferred vet-recommended dog food range that includes the following special formulas:
Urinary Care – The Prescription Diet C/D Multicare Clinical Nutrition has been developed by the nutritionists and veterinarians at Hill’s. This particular formula is meant to support the urinary health of your dog, reducing the risk of calcium oxalate and struvite stones in the urinary tract.
Joint Care – The Prescription Diet J/D Canine is a balanced and complete food that improves your dog’s mobility while also supplying him/her with the right nutrition for overall well-being. The formula shows results in as less as 21 days, enabling your furry one to walk, run or jump with greater ease.
Weight Management – The Prescription Diet Metabolic Natural is enriched with natural ingredients and helps your dog with weight management issues. It reduces obesity, which comes in your dog’s way of a healthy life and mobility. With pure chicken being the primary ingredient, the formula is devoid of any corn, wheat, soy artificial color, or chicken by-product meal whatsoever.
Digestive Care – The Prescription Diet I/D Canine Stress Rice, Vegetables & Chicken Stew helps your dog control stress and prevent the intestinal microflora imbalance resulting from stress. The food is a specially formulated one, working well in managing stress-related digestive problems in dogs of up to 30 lbs of weight.
Environmental Sensibilities – The Prescription Diet Derm Defense Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew helps dogs manage environmental sensibilities. The formula comes packed with nutrition and with a great taste that your pet just loves. If your dog is affected by any of the harmful irritants in the surrounding environment and is developing skin allergies as a result, the intake of this formula shows visible results.
- A large variety of dog food for all breeds sizes and ages
- A wide range of prescription dog foods for several medical conditions is available
- Dog foods are free of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
- They offer both wet and dry varieties of dog food to suit your dog’s taste.
- All the dog foods from Hill’s science are made in the USA.
- Their food formula tends to change quite a lot and many dogs react negatively to a formula change
- Although Hill’s science dog foods have high levels of protein, most of them contain corn and wheat as the first five ingredients which are not good for dogs
- Chicken is one of the main protein sources in their dog foods that dogs can be allergic to
3. Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
Purina is a leading name in the pet care industry. The brand’s range of Pro Plan Veterinary Diets encompasses a range of products, some of which are:
Calming Care Dog Probiotic Supplement – This is an essential probiotic formula that primarily works toward helping dogs maintain calm behavior. This prescription dog food enables your furry one to cope with external stress factors which can come in the form of changes in location, routine, unfamiliar guests in the house, or separation from family members. The food promotes a positive emotional state in the dogs, thereby, maintaining their cardiac activity during stressful events.
Clinical Nutrition – Rich in antioxidants, this formula is ideally recommended for dogs, recovering from surgeries or prolonged treatments. It is dense in energy and supplies your dog with the needed calories. The protein content provides essential amino acids that help in tissue repair. The high-fat content, on the other hand, enhances the energy density further.
Dental Health Dog Food – Available in a crunchy texture and with a great taste, this particular prescription dog food is proven to reduce tartar build-up in your dogs to a significant extent. It is a medically tested product that is also rich in protein and antioxidants.
Dermatologic Management Nutrition – Another specially formulated dog food, the formula is designed to deal with the dermatological issues your dog is facing. It is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that help in supporting healthy and shiny skin and coat. The food is 100% natural with added minerals and vitamins and is devoid of any wheat, corn, or artificial flavor whatsoever.
Gastroenteric Dog Food – This low in fiber and highly digestible food comes across as a wholesome, balanced formula. It allows optimal nutrient absorption and improves the digestive system of your dog. Its probiotic and moderate fat content helps in supporting your dog’s intestinal health.
- High-quality ingredients with real meat in them
- All products meet FDA standards and AAFCO guidelines
- Components of the dog foods are responsibly sourced
- Both wet and dry variety of dog foods are available
- 99% of products are made in the USA
- There have been a few cases of product recall over the years, so you need to be sure that you buy the latest batch of dog food
- The pro-plan dog foods are not as rich in protein as some of the other dog foods in our lineup
- Pro plan products have a little bit of corn (in some cases). It is not completely filler free
4. Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet
The Blue Buffalo Natural Veterinary Diet range boasts quite a few formulas that benefit your dog in several ways. Some of these products include:
KS Kidney Support – This particular prescription dog food helps your dog manage kidney workload. It has controlled levels of minerals coupled with vital nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids for improving overall body and health conditions in dogs.
NP Novel Protein – This pure protein formula is ideal for dogs with food intolerances. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and, therefore, supports healthy skin and coat in your dog. The key antioxidants and vitamin E and C work together in improving the immunity system of your furry one.
WU Weight Management and Urinary Care – This formula boasts of increased fiber content coupled with controlled mineral levels. With such ideal levels of fat and calories, this food helps dogs fight with obesity and manage their weight. Absolutely free of grains and artificial flavor, it has a delicious taste that dogs simply love.
GI Gastrointestinal Support – It is an easily digestible formula, recommended for dogs with digestive issues. It is rich in proteins and carbohydrates for optimal nutrient absorption while the key antioxidants support a healthy immune system. Available with a delicious taste, it is a wholesome, natural diet that meets the nutritional needs of your dogs.
HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance – This food comes in the form of hydrolyzed salmon which is a readily digestible protein source. It minimizes the chance of an adverse reaction to foods. The omega-3 fatty acid content supports healthy shine and coat while the antioxidants support the overall immune system of your dog.
- Do not use animal by-products in their dog foods
- These dog foods have no fillers like soy or corn in them.
- All ingredients are sourced responsibly and most dog foods are made in the US
- There are no artificial preservatives or flavors in these dog foods
- Blue Buffalo is a slightly premium brand, you may find their food to be expensive
- Their range does not have products for calming or anxiety relief
5. HI-TOR Veterinary Select Neo Diet
The Hi-Tor Veterinary Select range boasts of a few specially formulated diets that vets highly recommend for dogs with health concerns. These include but are not restricted to the following:
The NEO Diet for Dogs is formulated to promote a non-irritating and rather a bland diet for dogs with gastrointestinal problems. It is highly digestible and contains no artificial flavors whatsoever.
The Reduso Diet for Dogs is meant for the dietary management of adult dogs that are overweight.
The Felo Diet is formulated to provide a low magnesium and phosphorus-based diet. It is 100% natural and promotes the overall well-being of your dog/cat.
The Neo Diet is a vet-recommended food that also helps dogs in dietary management. Rich in nutrients, it is low in protein and high in antioxidants.
- The food contains chicken fat, which is highly nutritious for dogs
- It also has rice bran which is rich in fiber and great for the dog’s digestion
- The products are all free of artificial preservatives and flavors
- The dog foods do not contain healthy gut bacteria
- The minerals added are not chelated, so they might not be absorbed so easily in the blood
- Some of the products have corn in them, which is a filler item with little nutritional value
6. Darwin's Natural Pet Products
Darwin’s natural pet products feature a specific range of prescription dog foods- Intelligent Design. Veterinarians formulate this dog food for dogs having health issues. Their prescription dog food range includes:
Kidney Support – The kidney support dog food is free of inflammatory grains and has a lower carbohydrate and starch content. It also has a balanced protein level which is easy to digest. Higher calcium level in this dog food also ensures lower phosphorus absorption, which helps in the proper functioning of the kidney. This dog food can help slow down or stop kidney failure in dogs.
Liver Support – The liver support dog food from Darwin’s pet products contains licorice root powder which protects the liver and lowers its damage. Several essential vitamins like vitamin E promote liver function, and vitamins like D, K, and B help keep the dog healthy. The food is also high in zinc which heals the liver cells.
Cancer Support – Another prescription dog food from Darwin’s pet products is cancer support food. The food is free of inflammatory ingredients and has a lower content of starch and carbohydrates. It also has high protein content and antioxidants.
It also contains superfoods like blueberries and raspberries, which help reduce free radicals in your dog’s body. This cancer support dog food works great when your dog is undergoing cancer treatment and as a preventive measure.
Joint and Musculoskeletal Support – The high protein content in this dog food offers musculoskeletal support to dogs. The omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants help improve dogs’ immunity, which is responsible for maintaining their overall health. The lower carb and low-calorie dog food also balance the dog’s weight which is important in a dog with mobility issues.
- Dog foods contain very few processed foods
- Cage-free and pasture-raised animals are used for the meat that is put in them
- All ingredients are responsibly sourced
- No fillers, grains, hormones, or preservatives
- FDA has pointed out possible contaminations in their products in the past
- There have also been some product recalls and bad batches
7. Calibra Veterinary Diets
Another great prescription diet is the Calibra Veterinary diet. They have a huge variety of prescription diets for the different health needs of dogs. Their range of dog food does contain not only dry food but also canned food for dogs who have trouble chewing or swallowing.
Hypoallergenic Diet – The Calibra hypoallergenic diet comes in two varieties- hypoallergenic insect and hypoallergenic skin and coat support.
Hypoallergenic Insect – A dog is allergic to a certain food when its immune system reacts negatively. The hypoallergenic insect dog food from Calibra veterinary diets is an elimination diet free of allergens that are most likely to cause allergies.
This dog food lacks animal protein and uses protein from insects and krill. It is also free of animal fat and uses coconut oil instead.
Hypoallergenic Skin and Coat Support – Another prescription dog food for hypoallergenic dogs deals with skin and coat-related allergies. They have three different variants, salmon, kangaroo, and horse, as the protein source, making this ideal for dogs allergic to chicken, beef, and lamb.
Gastrointestinal and Pancreas – If your dog suffers from vomiting and diarrhea, it may suffer from digestive issues. The gastrointestinal and pancreas dog food formula contains easy-to-digest proteins and carbohydrates. The hypoallergenic formula and lower fat content lower pancreatic problems.
Renal And Cardiac – Prolonged exposure to infections and toxins can damage a dog’s kidney and lead to chronic kidney disease. A CKD is irreversible. However, the Calibra renal and cardiac diet can slow down the speed of kidney failure.
It is low in phosphorus and sodium and uses an easily digestible protein source. It also reduces the inflammatory processes which lead to kidney health deterioration.
The diet is also beneficial while your dog is dealing with hypertension. It supports cardiac functions in case of any insufficiencies.
Hepatic – In case of liver damage, apart from medications, diet plays an essential role in its treatment. The Calibra hepatic diet contains salmon meat and hydrolysates and eggs as protein sources, both of which are easy to digest, along with rice which is an excellent source of carbs. It not just reduces the symptoms of liver damage but also helps regenerate liver tissues.
Joint and Mobility – A dog diagnosed with joint issues needs to be in optimum shape to avoid extra pressure on its joints with increased weight.
The joint and mobility dog food from Calibra is a low-calorie food that keeps their weight in check. However, it still has all nutrients necessary for maintaining joint health and mobility in dogs.
Diabetes and Obesity – For a dog to remain healthy, there has to be a balance between the calorie intake and the energy spent. A high-calorie diet with a low exercise level can lead your dog to gain unhealthy weight.
Obesity in dogs can lead to several other health issues like diabetes and orthopedic and circulatory problems. The Calibra diabetes and obesity dog food formula are high in protein and fiber while lowering the carbohydrates, fats, and overall calories. Furthermore, the high L-carnitine in dog food also promotes fat burn.
Struvite – Alkaline urine can lead to Struvite stone development in dogs. It takes a special Struvite diet which increases the acidity level in urine to dissolve the stones.
This dog food formula has a lower magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium content, which helps lower the RSS index essential for dissolving Struvite. Additionally, it has calcium sulfate and other minerals that increase the acidity in urine. This dog food best suits dogs when treating struvite stones and other UTIs.
Oxalate and Urate and Cystine – Oxalate, Urate, and Cystine are stones that can build up in the urinary tract and require surgical removal. However, using a certain type of restricted diet can help prevent the occurrence of these stones. The oxalate Urate and Cystine dog food feature a formula with restricted protein source from eggs. The food supports easy digestion.
The potassium citrate, balanced protein, and mineral content help prevent the stone’s formation. Moreover, dogs suffering from these stones can benefit greatly from Oxalate, Urate, and Cystine dog food.
- They use high-quality ingredients
- The design of the dog food is based on recent dog food studies
- It has one of the widest range of prescription dog foods for most dog problems
- The foods are free of artificial flavors, and preservatives
- These dog foods are quite expensive
- Some dogs might be allergic to chicken which is one of the main components in some of these dog foods
8. Farmina Vet Life Dog Food
The Farmina Vet Life dog food is one of the most sought-after diets and is very commonly recommended by doctors in cases of acute problems. Here is its range of products:
Obesity – The Obesity dog food from Farmina vet life is suitable for overweight dogs. Balanced nutrition but a lower calorie diet helps maintain your dog’s health while reducing weight. It is low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein.
Diabetic – The Farmina vet life diabetic dog food is good for dogs who have diabetes or are at risk of it. The food is low in calories which helps maintain a dog’s weight while being nutritionally balanced.
Gastrointestinal – Gastrointestinal dog food is best suited for a dog with recurrent vomiting and diarrhea. The dog food is low in fat and contains easy-to-digest protein and carbs. It also has higher electrolytes and other ingredients that are also easy to digest.
Renal – The renal dog food from Farmina Vet life dog food is for dogs who suffer from kidney issues or are at risk of kidney failure. The lower phosphorus content in this dog food slows down kidney failure.
Derma Management – The derma management dog food is best for dogs allergic to certain nutrients and ingredients. It contains hypoallergenic ingredients that offer complete nutrition to your dogs without causing allergies.
Digestion – The digestion dog food is easy to digest. It is a maintenance diet that contains balanced nutrition for maintaining a dog’s health.
Skin and Coat – The Farmina vet life skin and coat dog food are free from ingredients that result in skin allergies in dogs. The vitamins and minerals in this food also promote healthy skin and fur.
Neutered – This dog food is best suitable for dogs who have been neutered. Moreover, this dog food helps achieve the optimum body weight in dogs after their surgery.
Recoup – Farmina vet life recoups dog food to help through the recovery period of a dog after an injury or illness. It contains a balanced diet to restore a dog’s health. Dog food is a balanced mix of vitamins like A, D3, and E and minerals like zinc and copper, which helps maintain a dog’s overall health.
- The ingredient quality of these foods is extremely high
- All ingredients are sourced responsibly, and most are manufactured in the US
- The products have zero preservatives, GMOs, or fillers
- The dog foods are available for all sizes of dogs
- These dog foods are very expensive
- You will have a hard time trying to locate these products because they are not easily available
9. Just Food For Dogs
Skin and Joint Care – The Skin and Joint care dog food from Just Food for dogs contains tenderloin and pork loin, both lean protein sources. It also includes a healthy balance of healthy minerals and vitamins for maintaining a dog’s joint health.
Furthermore, it has lower calorie content and also helps keep a dog’s weight in check, as a higher weight can pressure weak joints. Additionally, the presence of type II collagen also promotes joint health.
Kidney Care – The kidney care dog food contains local ingredients with a good amount of vitamin B. It is low in phosphorus and has a balanced level of electrolytes. It also contains lower levels of easy-to-digest proteins and is also common in calories which helps maintain kidney function.
Urgent Care – The urgent care dog food contains balanced nutrition, which is good for dogs with a healthy appetite. Moreover, this food is high in calories and nutrients, which is best for dogs undergoing treatments for some diseases and who need to maintain a healthy weight.
Liver Care –The hepatic dog food is suitable for dogs that have liver failure. It contains lower levels of protein, copper, and phosphorus. Other than that, it is also low in calories and fat to maintain proper liver function.
Weight Management – The weight management dog food formula from Just food for dogs contains a lower calorie diet for dogs who are obese or overweight. Additionally, it includes a higher calorie content and lowers fat and carbohydrates to support optimum health in dogs.
- Human-grade ingredients, both meat, and vegetables
- All the dog foods have been created by veterinarians and are perfectly safe for your dog
- The foods contain zero fillers and preservatives
- The dog foods contain fish oil, which is great for the dogs’ bone health
- They are shelf-stable products
- The dog food portions are not pre-measured for you to give them to your dog immediately.
- Since these are frozen, you will have to make room in your fridge for them
10. Forza 10
Forza 10 offers a lot of prescription and non-prescription dog food that will help your dog grow strong and healthy. Below are some of the health-specific that Forza 10 offers.
Digestive Care – This gluten-free dog food supports the intestinal and overall digestive health of your dog. Moreover, it is rich in essential fatty acids to aid in skin and coat health.
Renal Care – This wet dog food is crafted to help dogs with renal, cardiac, and kidney problems. Additionally, it is backed by Scientific evidence to be effective.
Skin Relief – With its hydrolyzed fish protein, your dog’s skin will be protected from allergic reactions. Moreover, it does not contain any artificial preservatives, additives, or fillers which are also the main causes of stomach upset.
- All dog food formulas are backed by Scientific evidence
- It provides a complete and balanced nutrition
- It only uses high-quality ingredients
- Some dogs do not like the flavor of this dog food
- Not effective for some dogs
Do You Really Need a Prescription for Dog Food?
You do not legally require a prescription to purchase vet dog food as such. This is also because, unlike prescription drugs, prescription foods do not require the manufacturers to abide by and complete the FDA approval process while changing the ingredients. Prescription dog foods are easily available online at Amazon, Chewy and similar pet stores.
Prescription dog foods are different and specially formulated foods for sure. However, “prescription” is more of a marketing word here.
When to Give a Dog Prescription Pet Food?
Prescription pet foods are recommended for dogs suffering from certain types of health problems. These include obesity, pancreatitis, digestive issues, food allergies, and mostly bladder stones. In these problems, diet and food ingredients directly impact the symptoms. That is why your dog should be fed with foods that do not contain holistic ingredients.
Prescription dog foods are special formulas combining protein, fiber, fat, and other nutrients in varying proportions. This makes them suitable for dogs with the said health concerns. For instance, Hill’s prescription dog foods can be of three types to deal with different kinds of bladder stones in dogs. If your dog has urate stones and cystine stones, they will need the Hill’s u/d diet while the brand’s c/d diet is recommended for struvite stones as this diet makes the urine acidic enough to dissolve the stones.
Are Prescription Dog Foods More Expensive?
Prescription dog foods or vet-recommended dog formulas are a lot more expensive than regular pet foods. Sometimes, they may be just double the price of their regular counterparts.
However, this is justified due to a few factors. First, each type of prescription dog food is formulated to deal with particular diseases and health concerns in dogs. Second, these foods contain a significant proportion of bio-available ingredients that are extremely beneficial for your dog. There is also more R&D coupled with great expectations from these foods, contributing to their high price.
Why Do Some Dog Foods Require a Prescription?
Unlike prescription drugs, prescription feeds do not need to abide by FDA regulations. Therefore, no dog foods require a prescription from the veterinarian in the true sense. However, prescription dog foods should be given to your dog only after subsequent consultation with the vet. It is only after a proper understanding of your dog’s health issue that the right prescription dog formula can be determined because these foods have very specific formulas behind them.
What Ingredients are in Prescription Dog Food Diets?
Prescription diet dog foods vary widely in terms of ingredients. These are special formulas meant for a specific purpose such as alleviating pain, and improving the digestive system of your dog, therefore reducing obesity. However, these foods are generally free of grains, artificial flavors, and preservatives. They are supposed to be purer and more nutritious than regular dog foods. Though, many people and organizations believe that they are a bit over-hyped too.
Some of the predominant ingredients found in most types of prescription dog foods include chicken, complex carbs, essential fatty acids, pork fat, chicken liver, soybean oil, lactic acid, flaxseed, potassium chloride, and dried beet pulp, and vitamins, mainly vitamin E supplements.
Best Prescription Dog Foods: FAQs
Here are the answers to the frequently asked questions about prescription dog foods:
If your dog suffers from health issues, a home-cooked or raw diet sourced from trusted farms is the healthiest dog food for them. However, dog food brands like Royal Canin, Hill’s Science, and Purina also offer healthy food options for dogs with specific health needs.
Most veterinarians recommend dog food depending upon the specific health needs of a dog. However, the dog food brands included in the list contain prescription diets and are the most recommended dog food by veterinarians. Royal Canin, Hill’s science, and Purina Pro-Plan are the top dog food that vets recommend.
Hypoallergenic dog food that is free of all allergy-inducing ingredients is the best food for your dogs with allergies. The hypoallergenic diet uses a protein source that a dog’s immune system is not used to and is also free of allergens that are most likely to cause allergic reactions in dogs.
Some of the dog food from the Hill’s Science Diet is prescription. They are meant to support a dog’s health through different life stages. Veterinarians recommend the prescription diet from Hill’s science for dogs undergoing treatments for health issues or in the recovery phase.
Prescription dog foods help improve your dog’s health when suffering from a problem. However, always take advice from your vet before you start your dog on one of these diets. We have listed above nine brands that offer prescription foods for your dog.