A patient’s medical history is often one of the most valuable and essential tools in a veterinarian’s overall patient assessment. The patient history can be very important for such things as identifying risk areas, narrowing the differential list, or focusing the diagnostic plan. The dietary history is a key piece of this patient history that is often underleveraged due to variety of factors, such as limited exam room time, the owner’s inability to recall dietary details, or even the way diet history questions are asked.
- Diet history – By taking a good diet history at each visit, you can better identify changes in appetite, food consumption, and water intake over time. This can help to identify risks of medical conditions that are associated with an increase or decrease over time. Often, slow changes may not be as apparent, but with consistent dietary history collection, these changes can be documented and clear trends can be identified earlier in the course of the disease. It is critical to obtain a complete diet history to include brand, flavor, and form, feeding amount per meal and amount per day, treats, dental chews, supplements and food used to medicate are all important to create an effective assessment. To help you better obtain and leverage this valuable information, we have put together a few tips and pointers to help you get the most out of your diet history.
- Weight and weight trends – Ensure patient is weighed and scored (BCS) each visit, and both body weight and BCS is recorded in medical record to watch for trends and changes.
- Body condition score – BCS is an estimate of % body fat and is used in conjunction with body weight (BW) and muscle condition score (MCS). All three tools (BW, BCS, MCS) must be used to create an accurate estimate.
- Muscle condition score – MCS assess lean body mass and is used in conjunction with BW and BCS. All three parameters (BW, BCS, MCS) should be used to create an accurate estimate.