Bags of Hill's, Purina and Royal Canin brand prescription diets

Price-Shopping Prescribed Diets

We have for many years carried and prescribed two brands of therapeutic pet foods (also known generically as prescription or veterinary diets) at Brownsburg Animal Clinic—Hill’s Prescription Diet and Royal Canin’s “veterinary range.” 

Our veterinarians also prescribe Purina Pro Plan, but until now, we’ve kept very few Purina products in stock at the clinic.

All three of these leading brands’ specially-formulated therapeutic diets contain high-quality ingredients, meet stringent manufacturing standards and are generally proven to be beneficial. We wouldn’t prescribe them if they weren’t trustworthy and effective. 

But in recent months, we’ve seen such a sudden and substantial increase in Royal Canin’s prices that we’ve decided to switch over to Purina Pro Plan, along with Hill’s, as our two primary in-house brands, available for purchase at the clinic.

You can still buy all three brands’ regular and therapeutic formulas online for home delivery through our VetSource store.  

All three companies’ products are available from other online retailers and area brick-and-mortar stores as well.

Why We Prescribe Therapeutic Diets

Even in a state of optimal health, what your pet eats has a direct impact on his or her vitality and wellbeing. For all pets, at all life stages, we recommend feeding good-quality, age-appropriate food from reputable manufacturers, and we’re happy to help you choose from among the many over-the-counter products.

To create therapeutic, prescription or veterinary diets, veterinary nutritionists manipulate nutrient levels and ingredients according to various tested formulas to benefit animals with a broad range of specific health conditions. 

We prescribe therapeutic diets for pets we diagnose with conditions that have been shown to respond to these specially-formulated foods.

Specific conditions treated by therapeutic diets for dogs include:

  • Anxiety
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Critical care
  • Dental
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Epilepsy
  • Food allergy/food intolerance
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Hepatic (liver) diseases
  • Joint disease
  • Obesity
  • Oxalate stones (urolithiasis)
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Struvite stones (urolithiasis)

Conditions treated by therapeutic diets for cats:

  • Constipation
  • Critical care
  • Dental
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Food allergy/food intolerance
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Hepatic (liver) diseases
  • Obesity
  • Oxalate stones (urolithiasis)
  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Struvite stones (urolithiasis)

Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin offer products to provide tailored nutrition for pets with these conditions. If your veterinarian diagnoses any of these conditions and recommends a therapeutic diet, with a few exceptions, you’re likely to have a choice of at least two and more often three brands and, perhaps, multiple products within the brands to compare. Many formulas are available as both canned wet food and dry kibble.

What Therapeutic Diets Are Not

The Food and Drug Administration does not consider therapeutic diets to be “drugs” and does not legally require they be sold by prescription only. It’s the manufacturers and retailers who have chosen to require a prescription from a veterinarian before therapeutic foods can be sold. 

Therapeutic diets are not medicine. They do not contain drugs or ingredients not also used in over-the-counter pet foods. They are more like nutraceuticals—digestible products similar to therapeutic vitamins and minerals that can support and influence your pet’s biological functions. The tested and demonstrated health benefits come from the precise combination of ingredients formulated by veterinary nutritionists to provide the best possible dietary support for pets diagnosed with the targeted medical conditions. 

Therapeutic diets don’t cure diseases. They help us manage them. We use them as a complement to—not a substitute for—more comprehensive medical treatment.

As a rule, these deliberately formulated diets are not appropriate and may even be harmful for pets not diagnosed with the medical problem the diet is intended to support. Some are intended only for short-term use, while others may continue to benefit your pet indefinitely. Your veterinarian will monitor your pet and advise how long to continue with a therapeutic diet.

Marketing strategies aside, we believe this by-prescription-only policy helps minimize possible misuse of therapeutic diets by pet owners who might be tempted to feed them without first seeking sound medical advice and supervision.  If your pet has a health issue that warrants a special diet, your veterinarian should be involved in definitively diagnosing the condition, recommending the right food and monitoring the diet’s impact on your pet over time.

Why Therapeutic Diets Cost More Than Regular Pet Food

As the ingredients lists show, therapeutic diets are made of essentially the same foods and nutrition supplements as regular pet foods.

It’s not the ingredients that make these foods cost more. It’s the science behind the formulation, quality control, testing and tweaking to produce the most medically beneficial results.

Before bringing a therapeutic diet to market, the manufacturer must show through extensive testing that it’s safe and effective for pets with specific conditions. 

Contrary to fairly common belief, therapeutic diets are not big money-makers for most veterinary practices—ours included. Our mark-ups on these products are typically less than mark-ups on the regular pet foods you buy at the grocery or big box store. 

We keep the most commonly-prescribed products in inventory for our clients’ convenience and to get our patients started on their prescription food without delay. In our online store, we aim to keep our prices in line with leading online retailers. 

Our Advice to the Cost-Conscious

Given that specialized therapeutic diets tend to cost more than regular-formula pet foods, we understand feeding your pet a prescription diet—especially if needed over the long term—can strain your budget. 

After the first bag or case of canned food is finished, you may even be tempted to switch back to regular food, saving you money but depriving your pet of the potential health benefits of the prescribed diet. 

Like you, we want what’s best for your pet and your budget. That’s why, if you want or need to be especially price-conscious about your pet’s therapeutic diet, we encourage you to price-shop all three leading brands—Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin—and talk to your veterinarian about costs relative to quality and effectiveness of one brand’s equivalent or similar formula over another. 

All else being equal, so long as the proposed product benefits your pet—our patient—we’re happy to consider prescribing the brand that helps you save some money.

Therapeutic Diet Price-Shopping Tips

There are hundreds of therapeutic pet foods on the market. If you’re shopping online, begin by using filters to display only foods meant for your pet’s specific health condition. 

And yes, we know in your online shopping you will encounter more than the top three competing brands of dog food offering therapeutic formulas of their own. Once you’ve narrowed your choices by health condition, we recommend filtering out all but the three leading brands—Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin. 

These are the brands our veterinarians know best and trust most. These are the brands we’ve prescribed for countless pets and can confidently recommend to you.

Base your price comparison on unit cost—the cost per pound or ounce—in all the available sizes. Click through as needed to see package size options for your pet’s prescribed food. 

As a rule, larger sizes cost less per pound. If you’re looking only at the price-per-pound for the smallest sized packages, you’re likely seeing the highest unit prices. 

Note, too, that each of the three manufacturers’ smallest available size is different. For one therapeutic dry dog food variety, for example, Purina Pro Plan’s smallest bag is 6 pounds at $7.67 per pound, while Royal Canin’s is 7.7 pounds at $6.10 and Hill’s is 8.5 pounds at $5.41. 

In the largest available sizes, the per-pound prices drop from $7.67 to $3.69 for Purina, $5.41 to $4.18 for Hill’s and $6.10 to $4.32 for Royal Canin. Yes, Purina Pro Plan’s unit cost is highest among the smallest sized bags the three brands offer, but in the largest sizes, Purina has the lowest cost per pound.

So it pays to size-shop, too!

As you narrow your choices, the best way to learn about and compare individual products is by visiting the manufacturers’ websites. 

To shop for Hill’s Prescription Diets for dogs, visit the dog products page with the “Prescription Diet” filter selected and check the “Health Category” option for your pet. Hill’s Prescription Diet products for cats are here. Shop for Hill’s products in our online VetSource store. On the Hill’s site, choose the “Buy Online” button to see other online retailers offering the product you need.

To shop for Purina Pro Plan therapeutic diets, visit the company’s products page for dog foods or cat foods, select the “Health Benefit” menu option in the left sidebar and choose your pet’s health condition. Purina’s “Buy Now” buttons take you to a map showing area retailers and online stores carrying the brand. Search “Purina Pro Plan” in our online store to shop there.

To shop for Royal Canin “precision veterinary dog diets,” visit the dog products page and select your pet’s “Specific Needs” in the left sidebar. Royal Canin’s precision veterinary cat diets products page shows the company’s full line of products for cats. The “Find a Retailer” button on individual product pages displays veterinary practices in your area that sell the food as well as area retailers. Royal Canin products are also available in our online store.

Changing From One Food to Another

Whether you’re changing from over-the-counter pet food to a therapeutic diet or switching between therapeutic diet brands, unless your veterinarian advises otherwise, make the transition slowly over a week or two.

Gradually decrease the old diet while increasing the proportion of the new until the transition is complete and you’re feeding the replacement food exclusively. 

Make sure healthy pets in the household don’t have access to the therapeutic food. Feed it only to pets who have been diagnosed by a veterinarian who prescribed the diet specifically for that pet. 

But Is It Tasty?

Some therapeutic diets don’t taste as good to pets as others. Cost considerations aside, your pet may prefer one brand’s flavor over another. 

To derive the benefits of the prescribed food, your pet has to eat it, so before you commit to a $100+ bag of any particular prescribed diet, you may want to try the smallest size first to make sure your pet finds it tasty. 

If your pet won’t eat the prescribed food, ask your veterinarian about possibly more palatable alternatives.

More Resources

For comprehensive brand comparisons, including discussion of regular as well as therapeutic formulas, check out these articles:

Best Quality Dry Dog Food: Royal Canin vs. Hills Science Diet vs. Purina Pro Plan?

Science Diet vs. Purina Pro Plan: Who Wins? [2024]

Purina Pro Plan vs Hill’s Science Diet Dog Food: Our 2024 Comparison

Royal Canin vs Purina Pro Plan Dog Food: Our 2024 In-Depth Comparison

Purina Pro Plan vs. Royal Canin: Who Wins? [2024]

Science Diet vs. Royal Canin: Who Wins? [2024]

You’ll find some repetition and contradictions among the articles, along with plenty of commission-earning affiliate links, but as you narrow your choice of products to discuss with your veterinarian, these exhaustive reviews can help you identify your own concerns and raise the questions most important to you at your next clinic visit.

Price-Shopping Prescribed Diets Read More »

Overweight cat yawning

Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health

Over the past decade, the number of overweight cats has increased by 169% and the number of overweight dogs by 158%.

As a result, most pets in the United States, including about 56% of dogs and 60% of cats, are overweight or obese.

“Overweight” dogs weigh 10% to 30% more than their ideal body weight. An “obese” dog’s weight exceeds its ideal weight by more than 30%. The definitions are similar for cats. 

The consequences are serious. Obese pets are more likely to have a number of additional health problems, including—

  • Arthritis
  • Respiratory problems
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Skin infections
  • Shorter life expectancy (2.5 years shorter, according to one study)

These adverse health conditions result in a reduced quality of life for you and your pet as well as increased health care costs. 

Fortunately, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team can help you help your overweight or obese pet achieve a healthier weight.

Is Your Pet Overweight or Obese?

It sounds like a simple question, but it can be hard for owners to judge their own pets’ weight accurately. 

In a study by Purina, when researchers asked owners of 201 healthy adult dogs to score their dogs’ body condition using the Purina Body Condition System as a guide, the owners said 28% of the dogs were overweight. A professional skilled in body condition scoring who evaluated the same dogs found 79% were overweight. 

You can use Purina’s system to evaluate your own pet’s body condition before your next appointment at the clinic. To help you get started, the Purina Institute offers simple instructions on making your assessment. 

Here’s a brief video for cat owners:

The Purina Institute also provides an illustrated reference sheet to help you assess your cat’s body condition.

Similarly, the Purina Institute offers a video assessment how-to for dog owners. 

Here’s a visual reference chart to help you evaluate your dog’s body condition. 

Also from the Purina Institute, we recommend two free downloadable handouts—“Benefits of healthy weight” and “Maintaining healthy weight.”

More Resources

If, based on your initial assessment, you think your pet may be overweight, we encourage you to visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s web page titled, “Your pet’s healthy weight.” There you’ll find advice on working with your veterinarian to help your pet achieve a healthy weight. 

The Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association has published a paper as a downloadable PDF, “Nutritional Management of Canine and Feline Obesity,” that provides a fairly comprehensive overview of key aspects of obesity in dogs and cats. Although the paper is written for veterinarians, the language is not overly technical, and any client whose pet is overweight or obese can benefit from reading it.

You may also want to review the post we published last October in observance of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day.

We’re Ready to Help!

Pet obesity has been called one of the most uncomfortable exam room topics for veterinary professionals, but at Brownsburg Animal Clinic, we feel it’s one of the most important. 

Rest assured, if we diagnose your pet as overweight or obese, you have absolutely no reason to feel ashamed, embarrassed or judged. Our primary focus will be not on blame or shame but on collaborating with you to develop a workable plan to address the problem for the greater good of our patient—your beloved pet.

Remember—overweight and obesity are increasingly prevalent problems shared by more than half our patients. We look forward to helping you help your pet achieve a healthier body weight for a longer, happier life!

Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health Read More »

Large cat

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets

The most common New Year’s resolution for humans is to lose weight. With an estimated 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, the coming new year could be a great time to resolve to help your pet lose weight.

Why does it matter? As with humans, overweight and obese pets run a greater risk of developing a number of medical problems, including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Cranial cruciate ligament injury
  • Kidney disease
  • Many forms of cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

We’re Here to Help!

Before you begin a weight loss program for your pet—particularly if the problem is severe and/or the pet is older or has other health issues—we strongly encourage you to visit our office for a physical exam and consultation with one of our doctors to develop a safe, effective, individualized weight loss plan.

Our first step is to determine if your pet actually is overweight and to set an ideal, healthier weight for your dog or cat.

We’ll talk about what you’re feeding your pet—including treats and table scraps—and calculate how many calories your pet should be consuming each day. Then we do the math to translate calorie requirements into the amount of food you should be feeding each day to achieve a healthier weight at a safe, comfortable pace. And we do include treats in our calculations!

We also discuss opportunities for increasing your pet’s physical activity, taking into consideration your pet’s age, general health and present fitness level as well as your lifestyle, interests and ability to exercise alongside your pet. If you’re able-bodied and interested in getting more exercise yourself, we might recommend a gradually increasing regimen of walking or jogging with your pet. If you are not interested in or able to exercise yourself, we may suggest teaching your dog to play fetch or encouraging your cat to chase a laser (if your cat doesn’t find lasers too frustrating) or a string toy (under human supervision only).

Another option for increasing activity levels for cats is to use a puzzle feeder, which is a food-dispensing toy you can buy or make for your cat. We found a great blog post on puzzle feeders that includes instructions on how to make your own.

With the nutrition needs calculated and the plan for increasing activity levels mapped out, we will most likely send you and your pet home to implement our recommendations.  We will schedule an appointment for a recheck to determine how well the weight loss plan is working for your pet.

Happily, for many otherwise healthy pets whose owners stick with our plans, these weight loss recommendations work! As the dog or cat approaches the target healthy weight, we adjust the nutrition and exercise program to maintain success over the long term.

If, at the first follow-up appointment, we find the pet is having difficulty losing weight despite good compliance with the feeding and exercise program, we may test thyroid function—particularly in older animals—to rule out hypothyroidism, which makes weight loss difficult.

Our veterinarians may also recommend a prescription food to promote weight loss, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution—more commonly known as Hill’s Metabolic Diet.

We have recently been trying this food with a number of our overweight patients, and the results have been promising. Before releasing this food several years ago, Hill’s conducted in-home trials with 314 pets. 96% of dogs and 81% of cats lost weight in just two months.

This innovative nutrition formula from Hill’s helps pets lose weight by boosting their metabolic rate, regulating appetite and reprogramming the genes that control metabolism so they behave more like those of lean animals.

For more details about how this product works, we recommend this article on the PetMD web site. And here’s a blog post about Hill’s Metabolic Diet by a veterinarian at

Hill’s Metabolic Diet is available at Brownsburg Animal Clinic by prescription in dry and canned form and as treats. To use this food to treat overweight or obesity, our registered veterinary technicians take initial  measurements and continue treatment with required monthly monitoring.


Ready to make that resolution to help your pet slim down? Call us during office hours to schedule your exam and weight loss consultation for the new year!

New Year’s Resolutions for Overweight Pets Read More »

Overweight cat sitting on top of a post

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

October 11 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, sponsored by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

On the association’s website, you’ll find an especially useful “Tools and Resources” section featuring guidelines to help you determine if your pet is overweight or obese, ideal weight ranges for popular dog and cat breeds, daily caloric needs for dogs and cats, and instructions to promote weight loss in dogs and cats.

Particularly useful are two downloadable visual reference charts—a body condition scoring chart for dogs and a scoring chart for cats.

For a 5-minute video overview of the impact of obesity on your pet, we encourage you to see “Obesity and Your Pet” from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are “8 Easy Ways to Help Your Dog Lose Weight” from The Preventive Vet.

Let Us Help!

We previously published a detailed post about overweight and obesity in pets—”Overweight, Obesity and Your Pet’s Health.” We encourage you read it to find out more about the potential health impact of overweight and obesity on your pet.

If, based on the guidelines in our post, you believe your pet is overweight or obese, the Brownsburg Animal Clinic team is eager to help you help your pet achieve a healthy weight.

Schedule an exam to assess your pet’s current body condition and ask your veterinarian to recommend the best approach to addressing this critically important aspect of your pet’s health and wellbeing.

National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Read More »

Hill's canned food recall

Hill’s Canned Food Recall Expanded

On Wednesday, March 20, 2019, Hill’s Pet Nutrition expanded its recall to include several additional Hill’s brand canned food varieties and lots because of excess vitamin D.

May 18, 2019, update: Hill’s has added 12.5-ounce cans of Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Canine Chicken & Vegetable Stew, lot number 102020T21, to the recall list.

If you have any canned Hill’s brand pet food on hand, please visit the Hill’s web site for more information, including a list of all recalled canned food varieties, SKU and date and lot codes. Newly-added products and SKUs are indicated.

We have checked our inventory and have none of the recalled products in stock. We recommend all our clients who have Hill’s canned food on hand do the same.

Please discard any uneaten food you’ve already opened and return any unopened cans of food listed on the recall chart to the place where you purchased it for a full refund.

So far, we have not seen any patients with symptoms of excessive exposure to vitamin D, and we appreciate that Hill’s is being proactive in addressing the issue. Based on decades of experience with Hill’s, we remain confident of the quality of their prescription diets and consider them a reputable, reliable supplier. We plan to continue to prescribe Hill’s diets to our patients as needed and will continue to feed Hill’s products to our own pets.

Hill’s Canned Food Recall Expanded Read More »

Obese dog

The Health Impact of Obesity on Pets

A recent post on the American Veterinarian web site uses pet insurance claims statistics to document top ten diseases related to obesity.

According to the post, “Of the more than 1.4 million pet insurance claims filed in 2016 through Nationwide, the largest provider of pet health insurance in the nation, 20% were for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity. Unfortunately, this signifies that pet obesity is on the rise for the seventh consecutive year.”

Based on its database of more than 630,000 insured pets, Nationwide determined the top 10 dog and cat obesity-related conditions. Visit the web page to see the top ten list.

If you think your pet could benefit from slimming down, call us during office hours to schedule your exam and weight loss consultation.

The Health Impact of Obesity on Pets Read More »