How does a nutritional assessment get incorporated into a pet’s physical exam?

Answer:

  • For every patient, obtain a nutritional history including activity level, body weight, body condition score (BCS) and muscle condition score (MCS).1-3
  • Perform a physical exam and identify any nutritional risk factors.1-3
  • Nutritional risk factors include: life stage considerations, abnormal BCS or MCS, poor skin or hair coat, systemic or dental disease, a pet that receives more than 10% of his/her total daily caloric intake from treats or table food,  unconventional diet, gastrointestinal upset, and inadequate or inappropriate housing.1
  • If the pet has a normal physical exam and no nutritional risk factors are detected, validate that the client is doing well and provide a specific dietary recommendation.1-3 You might say, “You are doing a great job. Continue feeding (amount of dry and canned food) twice daily and let’s recheck in one year.”
  • If a pet has nutrition risk factors or an abnormal physical exam, an extended evaluation should be performed. Based on the evaluation findings, a specific dietary recommendation is made (specific brand, dry/wet form, amount to feed, and monitoring plan).1-3
  • The assessment and recommendation should be recorded in the pet’s medical record at every exam, every visit.2,3
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. Implementing the guidelines is easy as 1-2-3. Pet Nutrition Alliance Web site. http://petnutritionalliance.org/Veterinary_Tools.aspx?section=Nutrition_Guidelines. Accessed July 30, 2013. 2. Tips for implementing nutrition as a vital assessment in your practice. Pet Nutrition Alliance Web site. http://petnutritionalliance.org/Veterinary_Tools.aspx?section=Nutrition_Guidelines. Accessed July 30, 2013. 3. Baldwin K, Bartges J, Buffington T, Freeman L, et al. AAHA nutritional assessment guidelines for dogs and cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2010 Jul-Aug; 46(4): 285-96.