Ditching Blind Faith in ‘Prescription’ Diets

A few words from The Soapbox.

By design or default, many vets permit the pet food industry to act as their proxy when it comes to nutritional decision-making for their clients. Because diet is a very big thing to get wrong, this can have a serious, negative impact on the health and well being of your cat — and downstream consequences both for your peace of mind and your pocketbook.

Many of us are wired to accept with (blind) faith the advice of vets. They are, after all, the trained professionals who spent years in school learning how to save animal lives and have so much more accumulated knowledge than us lay folk.

Add to this the fact that in many or most vet clinics, foods with “prescription” labels line the shelves and walls, creating the impression that these diets are closely scrutinized and tested the way human prescription medications are.

Unfortunately, however, this is not true. While Hill’s obtained trademark status for the phrase “prescription diet” decades ago, in the words of an FDA official, “Prescription diet is an industry-coined term and holds no legal meaning.”

Yes – Prescription Diet® is a registered trademark of Hills® Pet Nutrition, Inc.®. This shifts responsibility to all of us cat caregivers to screw up our courage — and roll up our sleeves at least a little — to become as educated and informed as we can about what’s truly healthy for our carnivore friends. This is true especially, but not only, when they’re facing a health challenge or a crisis for which a vet is recommending a “prescription” diet.

In July 2019, VIN News Service wrote:

Three years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued policy guidelines for pet diets that claim to allay or treat disease, veterinarians continue to have questions about these products and their responsibilities when recommending them.

Read more here about the lack of clarity when it comes to rules on ‘therapeutic diets’ for pets). And learn more about the sleight of hand when it comes to “prescription” food here, courtesy of Dr. Lisa Pierson.

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