Does your pet need prescription food?

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If you've ever given your pet prescription food, you know there can be some sticker shock at the vet's office. You may wonder if it is really worth extra money, and for some pets, it may be.

Walk through any pet supply store. There seems to be a food made for every type of dog issue you can imagine. But, prescription foods are only available through vet's offices.

It is an expense, Dr Simon Fick, of Grand Blanc Veterinary knows many pet parents worry about, "They are more costly. You know a lot of foods out there are not especially cheap, anyway. So we try and find a way to help people budget that in."

It may sound overwhelming, but special food is typically more of a necessity than a luxury, Fick says, "That food does help prevent a lot of more costly problems down the road."

That's because the foods are designed to address specific dietary issues for pets who have everything from kidney, liver, or heart disease, to digestive issues.

"My own dog, for instance, has kidney stones," Fick says, "We can't remove those surgically, so we have her on a food to prevent them from getting any worse."

But what about things like weight loss management foods? Is there really that much difference between what you find in the store and prescription food?

Dr. Fick says, there can be, "There are certain foods that are designed to speed up the metabolism, so they can burn off the calories more quickly."

There are also certain ingredients you will only find, at least in the right levels, in prescription foods, Fick saysm, "Companies we get the foods from, they guarantee low fat, low carbohydrate, higher protein levels. A lot of the foods over the counter foods are just too high in protein, too much fat, too many calories."

Even if you don't need prescription food, the pet food aisle in most stores is becoming more complex, promising various benefits.

Dr. Fick suggests paying close attention to the labels, especially the list of ingredients, "We worry more about the protein sources if they have a food allergy. So, avoid chicken. Avoid beef. Look for things like lamb and rice, or venison and sweet potato."

Corn and wheat are also ingredients of concern for many pets who have food allergies. Dr. fick says if your dog struggles with itcy skin or ears, it could be a sign of a food allergy.

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