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Does my pet really need this special food?

By Leslie A. Kuczynski, VMD, DACVIM

An important part of medical management of many diseases can be dietary therapy; however, special prescription diets are higher in cost and can be less convenient to obtain that over the counter pet foods. Because of that, the question of how necessary is this special diet, often comes up. Depending on the medical condition of the pet in question, special diets are prescribed for different reasons.

High protein, low carbohydrate diet (cats)

Cats have a higher maintenance requirement for protein when compared to dogs. They also have specific needs for certain amino acids. Cats also have a more difficult time processing carbohydrates due to their specific metabolism. Low carbohydrate diet is a mainstay in the treatment of feline diabetes mellitus, and can sometimes help lead a diabetic cat towards diabetic remission. A high protein, low carbohydrate diet will improve insulin sensitivity and can help reduce external insulin requirements. Reduced carbohydrate load will help to reduce post-meal blood sugar concentrations which can sometimes last for many hours in a cat. High protein diets are important in cats to help maintain their normal metabolic needs but also to help maintain a lean body mass in certain disease states such as diabetes mellitus.


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