Board-certified veterinary nutritionists are trained in optimal nutritional management for both healthy pets and animals with various disease and conditions. Therefore, consulting with a board-certified nutritionist can be beneficial for any owner and any pet – healthy or sick. Balanced nutrition is particularly important for pets who typically eat the same thing every day. Consulting with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist can benefit pets with multiple diseases that make diet selection challenging (for example, food allergies and renal disease in one patient), pets who are picky eaters, pets that are currently consuming an unbalanced homemade diet, and even healthy pets.
Examples include diet and supplement evaluation, commercial diet selection for any pet (healthy or with one or more health problems), weight-gain plans for underweight animals, weight-loss plans for overweight animals, homemade diet formulation, enteral (tube feeding) plans for patients with esophagostomy or gastrostomy (PEG) tubes, and parenteral nutrition formulation for hospitalized patients.
Most (up to 100 percent) homemade diet recipes found in books or on the internet are not balanced for dogs and cats. The best way to get a complete and balanced homemade diet recipe for your pet is to consult with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. This will ensure that all essential nutrients are fed in the proper quantities. Homemade diets can be balanced for pets with most disease processes if they are picky eaters or require a homemade diet because no ideal commercial diet exists for that patient. Some pets with multiple health problems cannot consume a commercial diet because no commercial diet fits that patient’s needs.
Obesity is the most common form of malnutrition in companion animals, affecting more than 25 percent of pets in America. Obesity is a health risk and can be associated with orthopedic issues, respiratory difficulties, and even a shortened lifespan. Obesity is usually caused by a mismatch between calories consumed and energy expenditure – some animals are not active enough to use all of the calories they consume. A detailed weight loss plan can be formulated by a board-certified veterinary nutritionist. This may include food options, treat options, options to administer medications, as well as recommendations for physical activity.