Veterinary Specialty Center- Nutritional Support Service

Nutrition provides the building blocks for proper health.  Good nutrition adds to the quality and quantity of life and plays a vital role in the management of a multitude of problems including:

  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal/pancreatic conditions
  • Liver problems
  • Obesity
  • Orthopedic issues
  • Recovery and rehabilitation from injury
  • Skin conditions
  • Urinary/renal disease

In addition, nutrition has been shown to be a vital component in optimal performance of military, working and sporting breeds.

In spite of the importance of nutrition in the overall health, well-being and performance of small animals, there are very few reliable resources for pet owners and primary care veterinarians to receive nutritional counseling.

For example, a recent study of the nutritional composition of popular homemade diet recipes performed at the Center for Companion Animal Health at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine found that 95 percent of the 200 recipes examined resulted in food that was lacking in the necessary levels of at least one essential nutrient, and more than 83 percent of the recipes had multiple nutrient deficiencies.

Veterinary Specialty Center is focused on providing the most comprehensive and collaborative care for small animals in the Midwest. Pursuant to this mission, we are proud to offer VSC Nutritional Support Service.

Under the direction of Dr. Joe Wakshlag, the VSC Nutritional Support Service is able to provide nutritional consultation for:

  • Companion animal diet consultation
  • Obesity management consultation
  • Working or sporting dog diet consultation
  • Formulation of homemade diets
  • Total parenteral or partial parenteral nutrition of patients in our intensive care unit

Who needs a consultation?

Based on recommendations by both the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, a nutritional consultation is recommended if a companion animal meets one of the following criteria:

  • Altered gastrointestinal function (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, constipation)
  • Previous or ongoing medical conditions/disease
  • Currently receiving medications and/or dietary supplements
  • Unconventional diet (e.g. raw, homemade, vegetarian, unfamiliar)
  • Snacks, treats, table food >10% of total calories
  • Inadequate information about or inappropriate feeding management
  • Inadequate or inappropriate housing
  • Physical Examination
    • Body condition score
      • 5-pt scale: any score other than a 3
      • 9-pt scale: any score less than 4 or greater than 5
    • Muscle condition score: Mild, moderate or marked muscle wasting
    • Unintended weight loss of >10%
    • Dental abnormalities or disease
    • Poor skin or hair coat
  • New medical conditions/disease
  • Extremely low or high activity level

In addition, patients recovering from orthopedic surgery can also benefit from nutritional support during the period of recovery and rehabilitation.

How does the VSC Nutritional Support Service provide these consultations?

There are several circumstances under which the VSC Nutritional Support Service can intervene in the nutritional management of our patients:

  • VSC veterinarians can request a nutritional consultation in order to help better manage medical conditions in our patients
  • Patients that are hospitalized in our ICU may need nutritional consultation if they require special intravenous feedings or supplemental tube feedings
  • Primary care veterinarians can request nutritional consultation for pets that are not patients of VSC
  • Pet owners, and owners of military, working and sporting dogs who are interested in nutritional support can request a consultation through their primary care veterinarian

The consultation starts with a thorough review of the patient’s medical history and records. Once this information is collected, VSC’s Nutritional Support Service coordinator will contact the owner to discuss history, medical conditions and dietary/nutritional concerns. The information will be sent to Dr. Wakshlag who will evaluate the animal’s needs and determine the best course of action. This may include recommendations of commercial diets, supplements or a recipe for a homemade diet. Follow-up questions, progress reports and alterations in the diet plan can be managed as well.

Turn around is typically three to four business days.

How much does nutritional consultation cost?

The fee is variable based on the complexity of the consultation. Our nutrition coordinator can help to define an estimate for this care plan.

How do I set up a consultation?

Because VSC believes that your primary care veterinarian is an important resource in the overall health of your pet, if you are a pet owner, you must obtain a referral from your primary care veterinarian. This assures continuity of care and provides your veterinarian input on the nutritional needs of your pet as well as communication from our nutritional service.

If you are a referring veterinarian, please either email us at nutrition@vetspecialty.com or call our Nutritional Support Service coordinator at (847) 459.7535 ext. 2007.