Choose vet-recommended pet food for dog allergies, urinary health

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From Dara Johns
| Daily news from Northwest Florida

As I discuss heartworm prevention and flea medication with pet owners, or what to do with cat and dog food, I am amazed at how much variety is available to consumers these days. It is becoming ever easier for the consumer to become confused by all the choices.

For example, if you buy cat food at the grocery store and see a bag that says “Urinary Health”, you might think that the food is helpful in maintaining good kidney function. What it really means is that it is a diet designed to help prevent urinary tract infections in the cat. The difference is big. Add to that the fact that there are at least three brands on the shelf that claim so, each with a different flavor.

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It is confusing. What’s the answer? Talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will be able to explain the difference between a diet to protect the kidneys and a diet to prevent infections. He may guide you on diets recommended for allergies or weight loss diets, or for elderly pets.

Your vet will recommend some of the better prescription foods, but they can also give you some over-the-counter pet food advice so you know what is right for your pet.

This also applies to heartworm prevention. There are those that only prevent heartworms, and there are those that combine heartworm prevention with flea prevention. These are the two largest categories that are most likely to cause confusion among consumers.

The danger of confusing heartworm and flea medication is that you give flea prevention and believe that you can also prevent heartworms. For example, Bayer, a very reputable and well-known company, makes a combination product for heartworm and flea prevention called Advantage Multi. They also make a flea drug called Advantage II. Both are topical drugs. Pet owners may get Advantage Multi from their vet, but when they run out they see Advantage II on the store shelf and think that when they buy they are getting the same without going to the vet. A year or two later, your pet will test positive for heartworms. You are shocked. You gave prevention, how can that be?

It’s not just the issues that create these situations. The newer flea and tick medicines Bravecto and Nexgard are boxed and sold at veterinary offices that look surprisingly similar to their heartworm prevention counterparts. Pet owners are aware that their vet offers combination pills to prevent fleas and heartworms. So when you ask about Bravecto or Nexgard, you might think you are getting it all rolled into one. These two products must be purchased from a veterinarian and are expensive, so they must include heartworm prevention, right? Not correct.

Make sure to read the labels of the medicine you are using. Make sure it stands for heartworm prevention. If you are confused, ask your veterinarian. He can explain the differences to you and make suggestions that suit your lifestyle and budget.