Sticking To It: Why Treats Aren’t Good for Pets on Special Diets

Doctor's Orders

Veterinary therapeutic diets are recommended for cats and dogs for many reasons. If your pet is diagnosed with a health condition that requires a special or therapeutic diet, it is also very important to consider the treats that you feed to your pet.

Often, medical conditions translate to changes in the entire nutritional plan for your pet, which includes treats.  For some conditions, this may even include completely eliminating treats (which we know can be difficult to do). However, for animals that require a prescribed diet, failure to stick to it is a major reason for recurrence of the problem for which the diet was recommended.  For example, certain treats may be high in calories and may interfere with a weight loss plan for a cat or dog. Another example might be a pet on a food elimination trial to identify food allergies. In this case, providing treats that are not approved by your veterinarian can affect the success of this important diagnostic test and might even cause the misdiagnosis of your pet!

Giving Up The Goods

Why is it so difficult for owners to give up treating their pets, even when they know that it is in the pet’s best interest?  Because we love bonding with our pets and rewarding them, and giving treats is a major part of this. When our pets begin to expect treats, it becomes even harder to refuse them even if we know certain treats may not be in our pets’ best interest.

Because it is difficult for most cat and dog owners to make changes to their pets’ diet, it is important to discuss this with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian is the best resource for recommending a complete nutritional plan to help improve your pet’s health. And while it can be difficult for your veterinarian to recommend a therapeutic diet as well as an appropriate treat without compromising the health of your pet, it is possible. Therapeutic treats can be beneficial for many pets, as these treats are designed for pets with very specific health needs.

Counting Calories

For any pet, treats should not make up more than 10% of total daily calories, since providing more calories can result in weight gain andor could potentially affect the success of the main diet. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian the amount of treats that you feed your pet as well as the type.

Therapeutic treats are made to help pet owners continue to show love to their pets and reward them while helping with management of health conditions. By providing such treats, you can remain compliant with your pet’s veterinarian-recommended nutritional plan and still reward and bond with your pet.

Visit Your Vet

If your cat or dog is diagnosed with a health condition that can benefit from dietary modification, and you are currently giving treats, ask your veterinarian what the best treat option would be for your pet. Veterinary therapeutic treats can help owners maintain compliance with a special dietary plan.

To learn more about how therapeutic treats can help with your pet’s nutritional plan, visit