The first step in evaluating a pet and determining its nutritional status is to take a thorough history, including signalment. A patient’s medical history is one of the most valuable and essential tools in the overall assessment, as it aids in identifying risk areas, narrowing the differential list, or focusing the diagnostic plan. A nutritional history should be taken to determine the quality and adequacy of the food being fed to the pet, the feeding routines, and the type (s) of food given to the pet. The use of open ended questions is ideal, as this type of questioning helps to uncover more information; closed ended questions typically end in a one-word answer thus potentially not uncovering everything the patient eats in a day. An open-ended question such as “tell me everything that goes into your pet’s mouth in a 24 hour period” expedites gathering information on the pet’s access to foods, supplements, and medications and how much the pet consumes each day. Pets also may be fed by more than one family member or receive numerous treats throughout the day. Open-ended questioning can pinpoint a breakdown in owner compliance and begin to establish a feeding protocol to insure the pet’s proper calorie consumption.
The WSAVA Diet History Form is a useful tool for the team to collect information