Prescription Dog Foods


The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about prescription dog foods.

Why don’t you give ratings to prescription dog foods?

Due to their intentional therapeutic designs, we are unable to rate prescription dog foods.

That’s because to treat certain health conditions — like kidney or liver disease — some veterinary products have been intentionally designed to reduce the meat content of a specific recipe.

Since we tend to favor dog foods rich in meat, it would be inappropriate for us to assign a star rating to such meat-restricted prescription food products.

What about the claims of efficacy made by the manufacturer or a prescribing veterinarian?

Our reports have nothing to do with the ability of any dog food to effectively treat or cure a specific health condition.

Shouldn’t prescription dog foods be exempt from scrutiny?

Although we respect the right of every veterinary professional to prescribe what would be in the best interest of each patient, we still believe every consumer has the right to question the quality and content of these products.

Can you recommend a dog food I can get from a pet food store that’s designed to treat a specific health problem?

Unfortunately, since no one on our staff is a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each animal, it would be inappropriate for us to make specific recommendations.

In addition, due to the serious nature of many medical conditions, readers are encouraged to consult a qualified veterinary professional for help.

  • Susan

    Hi there’s also “Sport Dog Elite Series” Whitefish, it’s potato free, gluten free, no beef, no chicken, no eggs, no corn, no wheat, no peas, soy or rice, no canola oil & no beet pulp or pomace…

  • Linda Larose

    Thank you for your quick reply! I’m currently feeding my dog with allergies Zignature dry dog food with raw food topper. I think it is beef that he is allergic to because his symptoms (itchy red spots, red paws, etc) were the worst when I was feeding him a raw beef diet. I went to a prescription diet after that that he did well on, but I really want to feed him something with more natural ingredients, so Zignature is currently an experiment. He seems to be doing okay, but his face has been itchy. I can’t tell if it is related. I did try some limited ingredient foods that he wouldn’t touch, but I will take a look at the ones you suggested. I will also email the companies I’m looking at because although I have created a pretty extensive list of foods and ingredients in the foods, I don’t know if maybe there is beef hidden in any of the listed ingredients.

  • Susan

    Hi Linda, email the kibble company & ask them any question you have & if the kibble or wet tin food has preservatives, it will say it on the ingredient list…. What food are you feeding at the moment?.. If your dog has food sensitivities the best to feed is an elimination diet that’s either cooked or raw elimination diet, this way you work out what foods your dog is sensitive too, if you don’t want to cook or do raw diet then try a vet diet like the “Royal Canin” line, Potato & Salmon PS or Potato & Venison PV or Potato & Rabbit PR or the R/C Hydrolysed HP, then when dog is stable on vet diet & has no diarrhea, sloppy poos, gas/farts, vomiting, itchy skin, red paws, yeasty smelly skin etc you can add 1 new ingredient to it’s diet, you only add 1 new ingredient for 6 weeks…. it can take from 1 day to 6 weeks to show symptoms to food sensitivities….. if you don’t want to feed a vet diet then look at kibbles with limited ingredients the less ingredients the better.. Fish kibble are best to start with. Salmon or Whitefish etc
    There’s “California Natural” they have kibbes with just 3 ingredients.
    There’s “Canidae” pure formulas.
    There’s “Taste Of The Wild”

  • Linda Larose

    I’m struggling with what to feed my dog right now because of the ingredients. I think my dog is allergic to beef. I’m trying out another food now that I think my dog might be allergic to, but I don’t see any beef in the ingredients. How do you tell if the preservatives are made with those types of things?

  • Juno DiVentura

    I would change vets, too. My dog’s paw licking and skin issues cleared up in four days with a change in diet. If nothing is changing, change treatment or change vets.

  • JAMS

    Vets get almost no training in nutrition, so it’s always good (money-permitting) to seek the advice of a vet nutritionist–i.e., a DVM who’s done a residency in and is board-certified in Nutrition (NOT a holistic shopkeeper… I know raw is all the rage but, seriously, your critter can spread the bacteria to humans, and anyone immunocompromised, including babies and older adults, is susceptible).

    Other thing about the Rx diets is that they’re (often) HYDROLYZED–chemically broken down with water molecules to make short-chain oligopeptides from long-chain polypeptides, which will not create an inflammatory response in the critter’s intestines.

    I too struggle with the creepy ingredients, but I’ve seen such a change in my baby-girl since she’s been on z/d over the last week. Cleared up her diarrhea, stopped her butt-munching, and, for the first time in her 2 years, she seems to enjoy eating DOG (as opposed to cat and/or human) food. (Downside: I’ll now have to monitor my previously-intuitive-eater!) But, as someone else mentioned on this thread, only Rx-diets are guaranteed to have truly limited-ingredients; I was horrified to learn that the limited-ingredient kangaroo I’ve been feeding her likely has preservatives made from chicken and beef–her nemeses.

    Point: Between the hydrolysis and the truly-limited-ingredients, don’t ignore the vet’s advice just ’cause the ingredients look scary. But keep in mind that an average DVM’s knowledge of nutrition is limited, and Vet Nutritionists will often do Skype/phone consultations.

  • Mayra Moreno

    Hello, my Min Pin had gallbladder mucocele and had to had an emergency surgery to remove it. However, he got complicated with pancreatitis and was hospitalized for three days. He was five when this happened and now, he is ten. The specialist prescribed Royal Canine Gastrointestinal low fat and that is what he has been eating ever since. So far, so good. We don’t give him anything outside of his food and has to take a medicine called Ursodiol due to the absence of the gallbladder, since this medication decreases the amount of cholesterol in bile and bile stones and reduces the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from food. My little Snoopy is a happy dog, that’s why I follow to the letter the doctor’s indications.

  • Kricket

    I am so glad that you posted this. My Little Shih tzu is prone to crystal stones and UTI’s and I had no choice to put her on Hill’s Prescription SD and then CD she has been on it for a year now and the ingredients are just terrible and I have tried and tried to find a dog food to substitute her prescription food. I have also been using distilled water for over a year. I have also rotated using Bragg’s Apple cider vinegar and recently I have tried Amber Colloidal Silver and have also had great results with these for helping me keep the UTI’s and Crystal stones at bay. But I also give her probiotics to help replace the good bacteria because the Colloidal silver does not know the difference in good bacteria and bad it gets rid of it all. So I have managed to keep her out of surgeries and healthy rotating my all natural remedies, lol. But I am still so very concerned with getting her off of this Prescription diet. Ash percentage isn’t on the dog foods, so I have to call and ask. Most that answer the phone for the Company have no clue what Ash is, lol. With my own studies, I think I have come up with, that fish dog food tends to be higher in Ash and Lamb seems to be lower in Ash. do you know, How much Ash percentage is in the Kirkland Natures Domain Turkey and Pea Stew? The softer foods are easier for her, she was a a rescue abused and neglected, so she is missing some teeth. Thank you for any info, that you can share Nancy!

  • disqus_SBl7sCuYS7

    Add water to every meal, take out for frequent bathroom breaks, opportunities to urinate. I would comply with the prescription food recommended by the veterinarian that has examined and is treating the dog.
    If you are feeding kibble, you can pre-soak with water overnight in the fridg…keep the bladder flushed. I just use tap water and this method worked.

  • Nancy Allred

    Just a note from my experience ….. I have a miniature Schnauzer who had constant UTIs and crystals in her bladder. She was on the prescribed Hills diet-can’t even remember the name-maybe the CD…for a few years but she still had crystals. After a very expensive surgery to have an extremely large one removed, I decided the Hills was clearly not working for her. Another disadvantage to this food is that it is high in fat…not good for Schnauzer’s who are more prone to pancreatitis. Long story short…..I did a lot of research and questioning. I read how distilled water is given to cats who develop crystals. I asked my vet, whom I love, about this. She said there hadn’t been studies in dogs with distilled water but it might be worth a try. I have been giving her nothing but distilled water for two years now…..not a single infection or crystal in that time. She had blood work done last month as a follow up to be certain she was okay after a minor bout of pancreatitis (she got into some puppy food which is high in fat)and the vet said she didn’t know what I was feeding but to keep it up, as her blood work was perfect! I’ve been happy with Kirkland Healthy Weight dry, canned Kirkland Natures Domain Turkey and Pea Stew, and distilled water!
    Check it out maybe.

  • Susan

    Hi Morgan, my boy suffers with IBD (Colitis) with Colitis your dog is sensitive to certain foods & you have to work out which foods they’re…..My boy can’t eat chicken, corn, barley, corn gluten meal & maize most ingredients in vet diets, after 2-3 yrs I finally try Taste Of The Wild, Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb & finally he’s doing firm poos & no more food sensitivities. Have a look at “Californian Natural” Lamb Meal & Rice it has just 3 ingredients, dogs with IBD do well on the California Natural limited ingredient kibbles & the Taste Of The Wild, Pacific Stream Smoked Salmon & the Sierra Mountain Roasted Lamb, these kibbles just have the 1 protein & are chicken free & have limited ingredients…always slowly introduce a new kibble I use to take 2 weeks..

  • dgjenkins

    I’m having allergy issues myself with my girl right now. My girl wasn’t confirmed to have chicken and beef allergies but suspected. I am currently working with a holistic vet who told me unless it’s Rx food, it could have chicken in it. Even the rabbit I have been feeding. Which explains why I’ve gotten about 75% improvement but not totally resolved the itchy toes and mouth issue. This vet says the reason for this is the manufacturer does not clean the machines between different proteins. So, if they ran chicken food thru then followed with rabbit there would still be some bit of chicken that could be in the rabbit. She said there are no regulations on this and the ONLY way you can assure you are getting a single protein is to feed a RX diet or make their food yourself. She said the rx food is specific to that single protein. It’s regulated. So, your vet probably doesn’t mean for your dog to ever be off that diet for that reason.

    Now, you could do what I did and just get a single protein food like rabbit, venison or fish from a high quality manufacturer and try that. I did and have had 75% improvement. I am in the process of researching this Royal Canin Allergy Food in Rabbit which is the protein I currently feed. I would like to get more relief for my girls allergies so I was considering trying it.

    My holistic vet said she has worked with the University of TN vet school and they tested many commercial brands that were limited protein and found chicken and beef in every single one of them!! So there you go. It makes sense that in manufacturing you would not have a single machine for chicken, a single machine for rabbit, etc. she also said that you will not get 100% improvement if you give ANY bites of chicken or beef. She said even a little bite of chicken off your plate at dinner is enough to cause itching. So there you go. We are left with only Rx food or making their food ourselves. And I don’t know about you but I won’t be out hunting rabbits, deer or kangaroo anytime soon! I, personally, an at a crossroads. I will either stay the course I’m on and continue with the Wild Callings Rabbit and realize she’s still going to itch a bit and only be 75% improved or I will try the Royal Canin Limited Protein Rabbit. I’m not sure what I will do yet.

  • dgjenkins

    My girl has chronic colitis. She was tests at UT Vet School and found to have a genetic predisposition for it. I was feeding Natures Variety canned chicken until I discovered my girl was allergic to chicken. Then I switched to Wild Callings Rabbit canned and mixed in a few kibbles of Acana Duck and Bartlett Pear. I tried to feed raw but she wouldn’t eat it. She prefers kibble but I wanted her as close to a raw diet as I could get and this was it. The rabbit has a high fat content so I’m investigating another protein like venison or buffalo or kangaroo now. Her colitis and the allergies make her a bit of a special case. But I will tell you this…

    On this diet my girl had not had a single colitis attack in nearly a year and a half! Then, my dog food store was it of the Acana Duck and I thought I’d just get a small bag of chicken. After all, she had never been confirmed to be allergic to chicken and I was just giving her a few kibbles at each meal. As soon as I did that she had a colitis attack! First one in a year and a half. So it was either due to her allergy to chicken or the fact that I didn’t switch her slowly. I know, especially with colitis, you MUST switch slowly. But I thought since I used the same brand and was only doing a few kibbles, Id be fine. Not so! So, my advice would be to try to switch over to a different protein, VERY SLOWLY! There are many high quality foods you can find on here and if you baby isn’t allergy sensitive like mine then you will have lots of other proteins to try. I would just avoid chicken and beef and see what happens.

    Now, for the BEST part of this whole thing!!! About two years ago I think I found the CURE to my girls colitis! Since I had adopted her she had soft poo daily!!! Every day!!! She was difficult to get to eat because her tummy hurt. And there would be about four full blown colitis attacks per year where the poo would be totally runny and Id have to go to the vet. Theyd do metronidazole and probiotic powder and shed eventually get to the point where she was over the runny poo and back to just soft poo. But NEVER normal poo.

    So, after one particular attack I said ENOUGH! I researched online and found someone who gave their colitis dog slippery elm gravy. They gave the recipe. So I decided to try it. Within two days my girl had normal, formed poo for the first time I had her!!! Probably ever!!! Needless to say, I was thrilled. I gave her two teaspoons (she’s 22 lbs) twice a day with her food. She ate it right up. Now, my picky eater is NOT a picky eater! She loves to eat and finishes her plate instantly! I gave it her her daily for a year. Then I started slacking off a bit and just watching her poo. If I see even the slightest bit of non-formed poo I go straight back to the slippery elm gravy and she’s fine. With this regimen I have not had a single colitis attack!!! It’s a miracle!!! Not vet med had EVER given that kind of result.

    Now for the recipe:

    Slippery Elm Gravy

    1 heaping teaspoon slippery elm powder
    12 ounces filtered water

    Stir slippery elm powder into 12 ounces of water in a pot until smooth. There can be some tiny lumps so I use a fork to stir them out. Put on stove and bring just to a boil. The moment it begins to boil set a timer for 15-20 minutes and reduce heat to low. Just simmer on low, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes. Once time is up just store this broth in the fridge for up to two weeks. I use a mason jar to store mine in. And this amount will not last you two weeks. You just have to make a new batch when you run out.

    Once cool enough, you can give some to your dog right away. 2 tablespoons full. It’s not a bad tastes cause my girl seems to like it with no problems. Just mix in a spoon full of wet food and they’ll gobble it up. If you do this at feeding time I just put the two tablespoons of slippery elm gravy onto her plate, mix a spoon full of wet food with it then add her other food on top. She eats it all and licks her plate clean. Works perfectly. I feed her twice per day so she gets slippery elm twice a day. You can give it up to 4 times daily if they’re having a bad attack. I would do this a while before skipping any slippery elm doses. I planned on giving it to her daily but got lazy one week and didn’t make it and my girl stayed the same. So that’s when I decided Id just keep a close eye on the poo and give it to her if I noticed any soft poo. I usually make a batch a month to give her just as maintence now. And, of course more if I see any changes in poo. This, literally cured my girl!!!

    I get my slippery elm powder at a local healthfood store. It’s Frontier Brand. You can order it online. Just make sure you are getting slippery elm powder and not slippery elm bark. The powder is totally ground up like flour. Whereas the bark has bits of bark in it. I’ve used both to make the gravy but you have to strain off the bark. It’s a pain. So just get the fully ground up powder.

    If you choose to switch food, make sure you do the slippery elm and do it very slowly, giving mostly the current food initially and over a couple of weeks or more slowly adding a bit of the new food until you’ve totally switched. Watch the poo the whole time! It may even take longer than a couple weeks if you notice soft poo. But if you’re doin the slippery elm, you’ll prob be fine. You could stay on that food but for me, I believe since my girl may be allergic to chicken getting her off it helped. And of course the slippery elm is miraculous! Good luck with your baby! Hope this helps you like it did me!

  • KcQ8ov

    Maybe this blog will help clarify some things
    The best thing you can do for crystals/bladder stones is increase water intake, add water to meals and offer frequent bathroom breaks, opportunities to urinate. There is nothing wrong with prescription food, it has helped many dogs.
    Go to the forums section at this site and search “allergies”

  • Katherine Shade

    I have the same problem right now with my little guy! I’m so lost with the whole situation:(

  • Kristi Diaz

    Sensitive stomachs in dogs is a tough problem to handle! What kind of dog do you have? Are you still on Royal Canin?

  • Morgan Anderson

    My poor pup has colitis and her vet put her on Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Fiber Response. I’ve never been comfortable with the lack of quality ingredients in the food. Does anyone have other recommendations that would work for her sensitive tummy? I asked him about options but he absolutely refused to identify any stating that Royal Canin is one of the best brands available.

  • Lori Johnston

    My dog has been diagnosed with a crystal/stone in his bladder. He had surgery for this 3 years ago and the vet prescribed Hilll’s Science Diet, which I took him off of after maybe a year. I disliked what I read about it. I put him on a natural foods diet, aided with Cornucopia wet food. Given that he’s developed another crystal/stone, he needs a second surgery and the vet says he cannot eat as I’ve been feeding him. She suggested Royal Canin, Iams or perhaps Purina, who is coming out with prescription food specific to ph levels. Any advice? I’m not sure what to trust. Thanks in advance.

  • Leslie Celia

    change vets