Nutritional assessment

Nutritional assessment is a two-part process.

  1. Screening evaluation is performed on every animal. Based on this screening, pets that are healthy and without risk factors need no additional nutritional assessment.
  2. Extended evaluation is performed when one or more nutrition-related risk factors are found or suspected based on the screening evaluation [Table 2].

The interview portion of the evaluation should be performed by a person trained to elicit required information from the caregiver most knowledgeable about the pet(s). A detailed nutritional history should be obtained. A variety of forms are available for recording these findings.9,10

Screening evaluation

Nutritional screening is part of routine history taking and physical examination of every animal. Information collected should include assessment of each of the parameters of the circle of nutrition.

life factors, by themselves, may not call for an extended evaluation if the animal is otherwise healthy. Low or high activity level, multiple pets in the home, gestation, lactation, or age <1 year or >7 years, all create a need for closer scrutiny. Although these factors by themselves may not trigger an extended evaluation, they should cause the veterinarian to scrutinize the pet's situation more closely. Specific risk factors known to influence nutritional status include those listed in Table 2. When features are identified that raise one's "index of suspicion" for a nutrition-related problem, an extended nutritional evaluation may be indicated

The value of an extended nutritional evaluation increases as the number of risk factors and their severity increases. Moreover, sufficient concern about any one parameter may be enough to warrant extended evaluation.

If no concerns are raised by the screening evaluation, then the nutritional assessment is complete.