Page 598 - WSAVA2018
P. 598

 25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
R. Lumbis1
Nutrition is one of the most important considerations
in the maintenance of health and plays a critical role
in the management of diseases, patient recovery and hospital outcome; a reflection of its acknowledgment
as the fifth vital assessment (after temperature, pulse, respiration and pain). The veterinary healthcare team (veterinarians, veterinary nurses/technicians and patient care assistants) play an instrumental role in implementing nutritional support to hospitalised animals and educating pet owners about nutrition. Yet, findings suggest
that, while 90% of pet owners would like a nutritional recommendation from the veterinary healthcare team, only 15% of pet owners identify receiving one (AAHA, 2003). An understanding of basic nutritional principles and the application of nutrition in optimising the health and wellbeing of both fit and clinically affected companion animals is therefore essential.
As with any medical intervention, there are always risks of complications and this is no different with nutritional interventions. Minimising such risks depends on careful patient selection and assessment. Nutritional assessment identifies malnourished patients requiring immediate nutritional support as well as those at risk of developing malnutrition.
In 2011, the WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee (GNC) launched Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats to help the veterinary healthcare team and pet owners ensure that dogs and cats receive optimal nutrition, tailored to their needs (Freeman et al, 2011). They have been endorsed by the BSAVA, together with numerous other global veterinary organisations, published in a variety of journals and translated into many languages since. They are available for free download from the WSAVA website ( and have become one of its most frequently accessed WSAVA resources.
These guidelines provide a framework for the veterinary healthcare team to assist them in making a nutritional assessment, and specific nutritional recommendations, for every patient at every visit (Figure 1).
Figure 1: The nutritional assessment process using the WSAVA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats (modified from Freeman et al, 2011).
The first stage of this process involves making a systematic screening evaluation of the animal as
well as identification of the diet fed and any feeding management and environmental factors. This includes information obtained from the history and a physical examination and should include measurement and/or consideration of these additional factors:
• Current and previous bodyweight
• Body Condition Score (BCS)
• Muscle Condition Score (MCS)
• Diet (including type and brand, frequency of feeding and amount being fed)
• Medications
• History of vomiting, diarrhoea or other • Temperature, Pulse, Respiration, Pain • Any abnormal physical findings
The identification of any abnormalities in the history, diet, or physical exam and nutrition-related risk factors should prompt a more in-depth extended evaluation of each of these factors and will impact on how, and when, the nutritional plan can be implemented (Table 1). If no risk factors are identified, owners should be advised accordingly and given an appropriate recommendation, for example, to continue with the existing diet.

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