How To Manage a Specialized Pet Diet

December 30, 2020

Specialized pet diets, often called therapeutic diets, are becoming increasingly common as pet sciences develop. Though most pet owners will accept the challenges associated with specialized diets, it can be a challenge to get it right. Fortunately, there are a few steps and strategies you can adopt that will help make a therapeutic diet easier on both you and your companion animal.

Conditions That May Require Special Pet Diets

There areseveral health conditions that benefit from putting a pet on a specialized diet. Therapeutic diets may help to improve pet health when used to manage the following conditions:

  • Advanced age
  • Heart or GI issues
  • Kidney disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Urinary issues
  • Obesity
  • Food allergies

Several dog food brands offer pet food options that have specialized nutrient composition. Additionally, for some health conditions, a veterinarian can prescribe therapeutic food that can only be obtained through a healthcare provider.

Challenges of Maintaining Pet Health

There are an array of challenges that come with specialized pet diets, but fortunately for most of them, there are ways to work around the issue. Common concerns people have when introducingspecial dog diets may include trying to feed one pet in a multi-pet household. While other pets may be interested in your dog or cat’s new diet, the specialized food is not usually the best option for your other pets (it may even be dangerous in some cases).

If necessary, try to feed your pet their therapeutic food in an isolated area. This way, the pet has enough time to grow accustomed to their new food and finish what’s in their bowl without being overwhelmed by your other pets.


On top of the struggle to limit the therapeutic diet to a single pet, cost might be another factor to overcome. Many times, special diets cost more than over-the-counter pet food. Because of the special nutritional requirements, you can expect to pay significantly more for a special diet. If price is an issue, be sure to talk to your veterinarian. He or she will probably be able to make different brand recommendations and you can choose the most affordable option from there. 


At first, a pet might not seem interested in the new diet. He or she may avoid eating if the pet doesn’t like the taste or texture of their food. In these situations, pet owners sometimes consider mixing in other food items (the pet’s old food or human treats) to make the new diet more palatable. 

Unless you speak to your veterinarian, avoid adding any additional nutrition to your pet’s diet. Most therapeutic pet diets aremeant to be used as a standalone source of nutrition. Adding any new ingredients may tip the scales on your pet’s nutrient requirements significantly. 

If your pet is struggling to eat their new food, ask your veterinarian if there is anything you can do to make the process easier for your pet. Your pet’s healthcare professional may recommend tips and tricks (like pretending the food is a treat) to encourage your pet’s interest.

Additional Pet Diet Considerations

There are several things to consider when introducing a specialized pet diet to your companion animal. As mentioned above, choosing an affordable brand and ensuring that the right pet gets the therapeutic food are critical. On top of that, it’s important to make sure you’re following the directions listed on the bag of pet food. Feed according to your pet’s size and avoid adding other items to your pet’s food unless your veterinarian has recommended it. 

While atherapeutic diet may do wonders for your companion animal’s well-being, it’s important to continue regular veterinary care. Make sure your pet is getting vaccines on time and have examinations performed to ensure the food is having positive effects.

Specialized pet diets can help manage a variety of health conditions, but they are not a cure on their own. Pets still require a dedicated standard of care. Monitor your pet’s behavior as they’re growing accustomed to their new food. Look for changes in urinary or bowel output, changes in activity levels, skin and coat condition, or changes to the eyes and ears. 

Any changes you notice in your pet should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian at your next appointment. Unless the changes seem serious, then making a call to your pet’s healthcare provider is advisable. 

Introducing a specialized pet diet may present a few challenges at first, but doing your best to ensure that your companion has the best possible food options to manage a health condition is a great way to help prolong a healthy life.