Home Cooked or Commercial Diets to Treat Multiple Diseases (which is best?)

It’s hard enough deciding which is the best diet to feed your cat. It’s even harder to find a diet that will help manage or treats several different medical conditions at the same time.

This is what you should consider whether you’re thinking about feeding a home-cooked or commercial diet.

home cooked vs commercial diets in a cat with multiple diseases

My 13 year old male cat Ginger has previously had a bladder stone and is also prone to colitis.  My local vets put him on Hills Prescription c/d Urinary Stress pouches, but this flared up his colitis. So I put him on the reduced-calorie version of this which he tolerated much better with less flare-ups.   The bladder stone dissipated by itself, but a kidney stone was detected. Whilst my local vets are good, I am seeking specialized help with his long term diet as there are colitis and bladder/kidney stone issues to balance. Can you help me with finding a medically qualified dietician who would liaise with my local vet?  I have only found ones that develop animal feed. - Ann

There is a number of different considerations for the diet that is going to best suit the needs of her cat. Ann wants to find something that is going to keep the colitis nice and settled, but isn't going to result in the formation of more bladder stones and is going to help to dissolve any bladder stones that are forming.

There are a number of different ways we can explore these dietary requirements of Anne's cat. 

Home-Cooked Meals

I'll start by saying formulating a home-cooked, balanced diet of any kind is really very hard. There have been studies showing that home-prepared diets overall, even when a cat or dog is given a lot of variety in their diet, are actually not balanced enough to provide a long-term maintenance diet.

It is going to be even harder if you are trying to manage different medical conditions, each of which have different specific nutritional requirements.

I would only trust a certified veterinary nutritionist to come up with an appropriate home-cooked diet in any situation, certainly the one Ann finds herself in.

This is not something that your general practitioner can do. It is not a task for someone who hasn't been certified and has obtained really advanced nutritional qualifications. These are essential to be able to understand the nature of the disease in cats specifically, and then work on a diet that is going to hopefully be able to tackle both of these problems.

Veterinary Nutritionist

The good thing about working with a veterinary nutritionist, and you should be looking for a board-certified or specialist veterinary nutritionist, is that this interaction can typically be done remotely. It doesn't matter where in the country you are, or even where in the world you are. 

That is important because there are not very many people who are qualified to provide this kind of service.

You can get a history sent through to them by asking your vet to email your pet’s medical records. Once you've made initial contact, you can have a phone or video consultation on your cell phone or using Skype or a similar service.

The medical history and consultation will generate a specific feeding plan and a report, giving you a clear idea of what you should feed your pet.

I would only trust a certified veterinary nutritionist to come up with an appropriate home-cooked diet

Commercial Diets

The other option would be to ask your vet to talk to a commercial pet food company producing diets used to treat or manage specific diseases.

The technical vets working for these companies are often able to suggest an appropriate commercial diet based on your individual pet's needs. While each diet and prescription diet is formulated for a specific condition, very often there will be one that is more appropriate for a particular set of conditions even though the name suggested it is not designed in that way.

This is certainly something for Ann to discuss with her veterinarian, especially if it is becoming hard to find a certified veterinary nutritionist.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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