Nutrition – a key contributor to wellness for pets
A healthy diet makes an important contribution to the wellbeing of your patients. We have some tips on integrating nutritional assessment into your daily routine:
- Save time by asking clients to fill out a diet history form before the consult.
- Food storage can affect the quality of pet food – be aware of any risks associated with the duration and type of storage of opened and unopened food. Essential fatty acid deficiencies can be seen when food is rancid, inadequately stored, or has insufficient antioxidants.
- Be aware of the possibility of your clients buying counterfeit versions of reputable brands that may not be nutritionally complete.
- Ensure that anyone in the practice who weighs animals also knows how to carry out a body condition score.
- Include in your practice protocol the actions that should be taken if body condition score is outside normal parameters, including time intervals for reassessment.
- Take into account all the foods that are being fed regularly and be aware of the possibility of interactions that can affect the bioavailability of nutrients.
- Consider the impact of nutrition on other body systems – such as muscle (using a muscle condition score) and skin and coat quality.
- While a high quality diet should always be recommended, consider ways to elevate nutrition through supplementation to match specific individual needs or breed requirements.
- Take into account how feeding behaviour might affect nutritional status and acceptance of any dietary recommendation (such as neophobia/ neophilia).
- Always check nutritional status regularly and build reviews into protocols as needs can change as a result of temperature, housing, age, activity, stress and health issues.
For more information on nutritional assessment visit http://www.wsava.org/Guidelines/Global-Nutrition-Guidelines