Prescription diet foods, both canned and dry, are often recommended to match a specific health condition in an animal. Most owners know how expensive these foods can be, and yet they want to feed something that will help their pet’s health.
There is lots of information written by holistic veterinarians about the quality of ingredients in these foods and whether they are truly biologically appropriate for animals. In my massage workshops for owners, we go through a module on label reading as an introduction to understanding what is in commercially-made pet foods and what makes one food ‘better’ than another…
Recently, a class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California listing these companies as defendants:
- Mars PetCare
- Hill’s Pet Nutrition
- Nestlé Purina Petcare
- Banfield Pet Hospital
- Blue Pearl Pet Hospital
The plaintiffs are pet owners who had purchased prescription diets from one or more of the above companies and they argue that the companies conspired with each other to falsely promote prescription pet foods and, more importantly, that none of the ingredients in the foods are drugs or medications that would be subject to a prescription under the food and drug regulations. The plaintiffs argue that this is false marketing; some of the plaintiffs appear to say that veterinarians in some of the pet hospitals ‘prescribed’ the foods without even examining their animal.
The main brands involved in the case are:
- Hill’s Prescription Diet
- Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet
- Iams Veterinary Formula
As pet parents are a large group of consumers, it’s important that we understand nutrition and ask questions of professionals that recommend diets. This is everyone who tries to sell you pet food – not just vets, may I add. In our local market in New Zealand, there are dog trainers and pet shops that sell food and have a vested interest in recommending certain products to owners.
For me, the question to ask is how any food or supplement may help to nutritionally support your pet’s health condition. It’s also worth asking what feeding or clinical trials were done on foods professing to be specifically for treatment of a health condition.
The grounds for the lawsuit make very interesting reading You can read a copy of the lawsuit filed in the court here.
There will be more to come on this case; the plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury. I can’t even say at this point that the jury is out…
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand