AAHA releases Nutritional Assessment Guidelines

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has released its new Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. AAHA found through its compliance study that only 7 percent of pets that could benefit from a therapeutic food were actually on such a regimen. The compliance discrepancy along with the many factors considered in assessing the nutritional needs of healthy dogs or cats, as well as pets with one or more medical conditions, led to the development the AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines.

“Incorporating nutritional assessment into the routine examination protocol for every patient is important for maintaining optimal health, as well as their response to disease and injury,” said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, AAHA executive director. “The goal of the new guidelines is to provide a framework for the veterinary practice team to help make nutritional assessments and recommendations for their patients.”

The guidelines break down nutritional assessment into “screening” and “extended” evaluations. Screening evaluations are performed on every animal. If a pet is determined to be healthy and without risk factors it is cleared from additional nutritional assessment. When one or more nutrition-related risk factors are found or suspected based on the screening evaluation, the pet should undergo an extended evaluation.

The guidelines also provide recommendations to veterinary staff on client communications and suggestions for educational tools for the client to aid in communicating their recommendations.

AAHA is also developing educational workshops and web conferences based on the guidelines. These educational opportunities will be available this fall. For more information please contact Jason Merrihew at 720/963-4479 or [email protected].