What Is A Nutrition Consult?

Maine Coon cat eating from food bagDid you know we provide nutrition consults free of charge for any of our current patients? When we think about a nutrition consult, for many of us the first thing that comes to mind is a weight loss program. While in some cases we do recommend weight loss, this is not the only or primary reason for a nutrition consult. So what do we cover?

There are numerous choices on the market for pet foods. Our goal is to help pet parents choose the food that is best for their pet at the time of the nutrition consult. As our pets age, their nutrition needs change as well. A nutrition consult is something that a pet may benefit from at a variety of times. We can help smooth the transition for adolescent pets switching from puppy or kitten to adult food. Any time there is a diagnosis of a chronic condition (such as diabetes, thyroid, gastrointestinal issues like IBD, allergies, and joint problems including arthritis to name a few) a nutrition consult may be beneficial. We may be able to recommend a therapeutic diet formulated for pets with the problem diagnosed. As a pet matures into senior and again to geriatric years their nutrition needs should also be reassessed.

What We Look At

During a nutrition consult, we look at several factors. First we weigh your pet and assess whether he or she is the correct weight. We may show you how you can tell from the look and feel of your pet if they are at a good weight, under weight or over weight. Obesity is one of most common diagnosis of pets in the United States.

Next we look at the age and health of your pet. Considerations include how your pet is doing on the current foods and treats, if there have been any changes in his or her health that might affect the foods we consider, and your pet's lifestyle including activity level.

How We Choose The Right Food

We also want you as his or her pet parent to be happy with the food you will be feeding. There are many options available. We will sometimes review ingredients and nutrients to help you make an informed decision. Ultimately it is your choice what to feed your pet. If you express concerns about certain ingredients or brands, we will discuss why you are concerned and look at alternatives that address these concerns.

As more research is being done in animal health and nutrition, more options become available for meeting pets' nutrition requirements both in therapeutic and over the counter diets. For example, one of my cats, Savannah, has been eating a renal diet since being diagnosed with reduced kidney function. The renal diet provides the nutrition she needs using ingredients that are easier on the kidneys. This aids in slowing the progression of renal failure. Just recently, I changed her diet because there is now an option that addresses both renal and mobility issues. Savannah has been on joint supplements for several years, and with this new option I no longer have to add the supplements to her food.

Even when we study the label on our pet's food container, it is difficult to compare various brands or even different foods made by the same company based on the label. During a nutrition consult we are able to convert the label information to the correct percentages that allow you to compare the nutritional value of two different foods.

Treats!

Most of us enjoy feeding our pets treats. We also like to include an appropriate type and amount of treats or snacks in a nutrition plan. By feeding our pets the appropriate amount of a nutritious, balanced pet food, in most cases we can also indulge in giving our fur babies a reasonable amount of appropriate treats. If you would like to have a nutrition consult for your pet, please call for an appointment.

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