Nutrition Services Offered
Weight loss management
Obesity is the most common nutritional diseases of companion animals. It has been associated with many diseases such as diabetes and joint disease and has been shown to shorten the lifespan of dogs. It is best, however, to reduce the body weight of overweight animals slowly while ensuring no loss of muscle mass. This is best done by carefully restricting food intake, while feeding a diet that contains sufficient essential nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. We can help design an individualized plan based on your pet’s current living situation and a detailed diet history. We also work closely with other specialists to tailor our recommendations to a patient’s disease and collaborate with the rehabilitation service to adjust our recommendations to any exercise program.
Nutritional support for hospitalized patients
Many sick patients will not eat or have a reduced appetite. Our primary goal is to encourage dogs and cats to eat normally, but in some patients we are able to aid recovery by feeding patients directly into the bloodstream (parenteral nutrition) or through a surgically-placed feeding tubes (enteral nutrition). Most dogs and cats tolerate enteral feeding tubes so well that we can send pets home to be fed by their owners through the tube at home.
Evaluation of therapeutic / prescription and other diets
For some specific conditions, prescription diets may be the best option for a particular patient. However, not all diets created for the same condition contain the same nutrient balance or ingredients. By careful evaluation of the available options, we can recommend the best diet for a particular pet.
Analysis and formulation of home-prepared diets
Home-prepared diets have grown in popularity. Unfortunately, many recipes do not contain all the essential nutrients pets require in the correct proportions (they are not complete or balanced for a particular patient or condition). The nutrition service can evaluate existing home-cooked diets and suggest modifications, or formulate recipes based on a pet’s unique needs.
Evaluation of nutraceuticals and other supplements
Supplements are sold for any number of conditions. Most pet foods are complete and balanced and do not require supplementation with either vitamins, minerals, protein or fat. Excess supplementation can be harmful. Nevertheless, some nutraceuticals and dietary supplements may provide benefit to some patients. We have an ongoing interest and are undertaking research on the use of supplements in cats and dogs. As part of a dietary evaluation, it may be possible to assess the suitability of a supplement for a particular patient.
How to obtain a nutritional evaluation:
- Healthy patients: We can provide phone recommendations for veterinarians if your pet is healthy. The veterinarian must have examined your pet recently and must communicate the goals of the diet plan to us. We can then provide the requested information through the local clinic. We may request the veterinarian submit additional testing after we have evaluated the information provided to us.
- Any patient under the care of another service at the UF Veterinary Hospitals: A board-certified specialist in another clinical service can request a nutrition consultation. We can then work directly with the specialist to provide recommendations for in-hospital and outpatient feeding. This is often the least expensive consultation option for many patients.
- Any patient under the care of a board-certified specialist within the state of Florida: We are willing to consult by phone with specialists in the state of Florida if the specialist is willing to help obtain the information we need and manage the patient after our consultation
- Any patient that attends the nutrition service as an outpatient: For owners able to bring their pet directly to the nutrition service, an appointment may be made directly with one of the veterinarians in the nutrition service. During this appointment, a general physical exam will be performed and a careful diet history collected. Additional diagnostic tests, or consultation with another specialist, may be recommended to clarify any underlying health issues. After review of all of this information, a detailed diet plan will be constructed. If necessary, a home-prepared diet will be formulated following your visit. Please call 352.392.2235 to arrange an in-person consultation with you and your pet.