The veterinary team is the preferred source of nutritional information and has a key role in advising clients about the quality and safety of food and supplements, especially with recurrent food safety issues and misinformation about canine diets. Discussions about nutrition are appropriate at every visit to strengthen the veterinarian’s role and provide sound nutritional advice including all of the items in Table 2. AAHA and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Nutritional Assessment Guidelines provide excellent discussions of comprehensive nutritional plans that can be individualized for each dog.13,17,48

With more than 40% of dogs in the United States considered overweight or obese, the primary care veterinary team is in a pivotal position to detect abnormal body condition scores and provide tools for clients to routinely make appropriate adjustments beginning at the dog’s first visit.13,17,49–53 Dogs kept at their ideal weight from puppyhood through the senior life stages live an average of 15% longer.54

Advocate evidence-based nutrition.13,17 An emerging body of evidence infers that certain nutrients may turn gene expression on and off and help prevent disease.55 Monitor the emerging body of knowledge with regard to supplements, implementing those if and when peer-reviewed evidence-based studies support these potential benefits (e.g., probiotic support of the immune system, the role of eicosapentaenoic acid in inflammation).13,17 Additionally, use and refer to veterinarians who are board-certified through the American College of Veterinary Nutrition to answer questions and provide nutritional consultations.