Diet battles: Thoughts from the trenches


Dr. Sarah Wooten provides her perspective on advising clients when it comes to diet questions.

Dr. Sarah J. WootenI don't know any practicing associates who have time to assess homemade diet recipes. What a pain. If you do this for a client, I would recommend charging professional time for the service. Personally, unless I know that the homemade diet was formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, I always tell the owner that I have concerns about the diet being incomplete or imbalanced. Some clients are very adamant about cooking for their pets, but even if they will not abandon their homemade diets or consult with a veterinary nutritionist, most clients will note my concern and agree that we may not be meeting the pet's nutritional needs.

In most cases, I can at the very least get the client to compromise with me on feeding at least a portion of the pet's calories via commercial dog food that is certified to be complete and balanced with the caveat communication-there is no guarantee that what we are feeding contains all the nutrients known to be essential to a dog or cat. It's not a perfect solution, but at least we are moving in the right direction, and I always thoroughly document the communications with the client in the medical record.

Keep in mind: Most nutritionally complete and balance pet food products can only be adulterated up to 25 percent before some nutrient becomes diluted to the point that now the entire meal is known to be unbalanced. Thus, the owner should be feed at least 75 percent of the complete and balanced pet food with less than 25 percent other foods to stay roughly within the recommendations (on average).

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