Small Talk - Autumn 2018

Clinical nutrition 02 small talk However, what is surprising is quite how much difference the right food could make, or the different ways in which nutrition can help. For example, for patients with chronic kidney disease, feeding a specially formulated diet is the single most important change we can make, and has been proven to extend life expectancy after diagnosis. In patients with other conditions, such as diabetes, feeding a consistent, appropriate diet helps support smoother management of the disease. It is even possible for nutrition to play a diagnostic role, in a veterinary exclusion diet trial to identify a food allergy. So it’s important that you try to stick to your vet’s nutritional recommendations. But it’s common for owners to have concerns, perhaps that their pet won’t like the food or format recommended. Owners sometimes have strong views about their pet’s diet and are reluctant to feed certain foods, and many have cost concerns. Owners can feel nervous about raising these concerns, so it can be all too easy to agree to a dietary change in the consult room but quietly switch to another food later on. While well-meaning owners often try to find an appropriate alternative food, without the guidance and awareness of the vet, these changes usually have a negative impact. If this resonates with you, it’s important to remember that your vet will understand your concerns, and it is far better to speak honestly about them from the outset. Your vet will recognise that the recommended diet will have no benefit if you are unlikely to continue feeding it. They can suggest alternatives that Clinical nutrition - how a team approach with your vet can achieve the best outcome Gudi Stuttard BVSc MRCVS Shepton Vets When your pet is unwell, there is a good chance that your vet will discuss nutrition and may recommend a specific food. This is perhaps unsurprising nowadays, as we understand more how our own diet can influence our health. are more palatable for your pet, or you! They may even be able to seek advice from a veterinary nutritionist to find the right solution. Veterinary diets do usually have a higher price tag than normal foods, due to their high quality standards and scientific development. However, a higher digestibility means that the daily feeding amounts, and costs, of these diets are usually much lower than owners realise, and the difference over normal feeding costs is justified by the benefits they bring. However, again, discussing cost concerns with your vet allows you to work together to find realistic solutions. So, when it comes to dietary support for your pet when they are ill, the way forward is to work together with your vet as a team. Be open to making the changes they recommend but be honest about your concerns. Set realistic goals for transitioning onto the right diet and, above all, if your vet has recommended a specific diet because of a health concern, speak to them before making any changes.