Special diets and veterinary diets for dogs

Special diets and veterinary diets for dogs

Health & Safety

When browsing for dog food in the supermarket or online, the range of different foods available can be confusing, even for the owner of a fit and healthy dog. Feeding a complete diet is of course a must in order to ensure that your dog receives all of the essential nutrients that are vital for health, and for the majority of pet owners, simply feeding a good quality complete food for healthy dogs is perfectly sufficient.

However, as well as the standard supermarket dog food brands and basic options that suit the vast majority of dogs, there are a wide range of other options that you might want to consider, particularly if your dog has special dietary needs, any underlying health conditions, or you wish to tailor their diet to fit their specific type and lifestyle.

Read on for a brief rundown of the main types of special diets for dogs.

Food to match your dog’s size

If your dog is particularly small, they may find it hard work digesting large chunks of meat and kibble that are generally aimed at dogs with larger mouths! Consider buying a food that is specially designed for the needs of small dogs, and is made up of smaller chunks of food. Similarly, some ranges also offer a selection of foods for giant breeds, comprised of larger pieces of kibble and a slightly different nutritional makeup to support the needs of the biggest dogs.

Food for life stage

At different stages of their lives, dogs have different nutritional requirements. Choosing a diet to match your dog’s life stage is important, and the vast majority of dog food brands contain an option for puppies, one for young adult dogs, and one for mature dogs. You can even buy foods specific to the needs of neutered dogs, which will generally be slightly less active and burn off less calories in their day to day lives than their un-neutered counterparts.

Food for specific issues

There are many different dog food options available to help the dog owner tackle specific issues via feeding, and what you feed to your dog generally has a large part to play in their overall condition and general wellness. There are grain-free dog foods for dogs who are sensitive or allergic to the grains commonly included in dog foods, plus a wide range of options of hypoallergenic and sensitivity diets for dogs with general allergies or sensitivities. If your dog is particularly highly strung or fizzy, a dog food tailored to have a calming effect on them might help, and if your dog is overweight, a special calorie controlled food can help to feed them portions that will satisfy them while helping to moderate their total calorie intake.

Veterinary diets

A wide range of health conditions and illnesses can be greatly eased or aided by feeding a dog food that is tailored to cope with the effects of the condition, or as part of the treatment protocol. These are usually referred to as veterinary diets, and you should only feed your dog a condition-specific veterinary diet in consultation with your vet. However, once your dog has been diagnosed and the correct diet to fulfil their needs has been ascertained, you can buy the agreed veterinary diet from a range of different outlets, and do not usually need a prescription to attain them.

Some of the available veterinary diets for specific conditions include:

  • Diabetic diets, that are lower in protein than normal dog food, and have reduced levels of fat.
  • A diet for dogs that are prone to bladder stones, tailored to reduce the likelihood of bladder stones recurring.
  • Foods designed to be fed to sick dogs and dogs recovering from surgery that are very bland and unlikely to cause stomach upsets and sickness in dogs that are already ill or on the mend.
  • Nutrient and antioxidant rich foods to support brain aging, and manage behavioural changes among dogs that are naturally declining with age.
  • Food for dogs that are extremely sensitive to allergies, which may manifest in digestive upsets or issues with the skin and coat.
  • Reduced salt foods to help with the management of dogs with heart conditions, and to hep to support healthy heart function.
  • A nutrient rich but highly digestible food for dogs with gastrointestinal conditions, who may find standard dog foods hard to digest.
  • Foods rich in supplements and nutrients that support healthy joints and bones, for dogs who suffer from arthritis or other conditions of the skeletal system.
  • Food for dogs who suffer from kidney problems or that have kidney disease, to help to neutralise the free-radicals that expedite kidney breakdown, and to minimise the symptoms of the condition.
  • Food to support a healthy liver, tailored to reduce the number of hard to eliminate toxins produced as a by-product of digestion.
  • A diet to support urinary tract health, and reduce the formation of urine crystals.
  • Veterinary dental diets, for dogs whose teeth are particularly prone to problems or developing conditions.


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