Creating a nutrition plan includes creating nutrient goals for patients, determining how much to feed, and selecting an appropriate food.
- The diet should be a complete and balanced diet that is appropriate for species and life stage. Species specific is defined as dog verses cat. Lifestage nutrition refers to growth, reproduction and adult (including senior). The diet should help the pet achieve and maintain an ideal BCS. If the patient has a medical condition that warrants caloric or nutrient modification, it should be included in the plan.
- The goal is to feed the amount of calories the pet needs to maintain an ideal BCS. If the pet is already an ideal BCS, continue with the current caloric intake. If the intake is unknown or the patient is overweight, refer to PNA calculator. If patient is above the ideal BCS, use the calculator as an initial caloric recommendation and reassess at 2 weeks. Be sure to consider the frequency of feeding, and divide the daily total caloric intake into that frequency.
- Since most owners offer treats, they should be incorporated into the daily intake (the PNA calculator includes this option), allowing for no more than 10% of total caloric intake per day. A treat is any caloric form that is not formulated to be 100% complete and balanced and is outside of the normal daily allowance.
- It is important for the team members to be able to read and understand pet food labels before making feeding recommendations.
- There are some specific points to consider when selecting pet foods.
- Please view ‘Considerations when choosing a dog or cat food’ and ‘Selecting the Best Food for Your Pet’ for more details.
- The WSAVA toolkit provides an excellent educational PDF for team members and clients.
- If you have case with complex nutritional issues, consider consult or referral to a veterinary nutritionist. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) provides a list of available resources.