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Nutrition plays a vital role in the prevention, treatment and recovery of dogs and cats from various illnesses. This includes gastrointestinal disease, liver disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, bone/joint disorders, skin conditions and cancer. Although there are specially designed commercial diets to manage many medical disorders, some sick pets will benefit from an examination by a nutrition specialist in order to find the most suitable diet.
In addition to this, some cats and dogs can be affected by more than one medical condition at the same time, and in this scenario a nutrition specialist may be needed to formulate a plan for feeding.
Some dogs and cats will also need to undergo diagnostic investigations to look for the underlying cause(s) of their problems. For example, pets with vomiting and diarrhoea may need to be seen by a specialist in internal medicine and those with itchy skin may need to be seen by a specialist in skin disease. Willows has specialists in many different fields to enable this. Once a correct diagnosis has been made, appropriate advice can then be given to you about using diet to help manage the problem.
Many sick dogs and cats that are hospitalised do not eat well. This lack of nutrition delays their recovery from illness. For this reason, various types of feeding tubes can be placed to provide nutrition in a safe and reliable manner. Once a feeding tube has been placed, a diet appropriate for the medical condition can then be fed using these tubes. In some circumstances, feeding tubes cannot be placed or are not tolerated by dogs and cats. In this situation, a specialised technique of intravenous feeding (called parenteral nutrition) can be utilised. This form of nutrition requires careful preparation of the food by a nutrition specialist and close monitoring of the patient in an intensive care unit.
Some pet dogs and cats may benefit from feeding a home-cooked diet to manage their medical condition. This is usually because there is no commercial diet available that meets the nutrition needs for a particular dog or cat. Alternatively, some sick pets refuse to eat commercial diets but may be more willing to eat a home-cooked version that provides the same benefits. Although there are many recipes for home-cooked diets available on the internet and in books, these diets are often not balanced, i.e. they do not provide all the nutrients needed by dogs and cats in the correct amounts. A recipe formulated by a nutritionist will be balanced and can be specifically designed to provide certain nutrients in desired amounts (e.g. to manage disease or other situations such as growth and pregnancy).
Excessive bodyweight and obesity is becoming a concerning problem in our pet dogs and cats. Similar to the situation in people, excessive bodyweight can have many detrimental health effects in dogs and cats. However, achieving and maintaining weight loss in pets is very difficult. This may require investigation of possible underlying causes of the excessive weight, formulation diet and exercise plans and close monitoring of the weight loss. A nutritionist will be able to help with this complex process.
Willows is delighted to offer face-to-face consultations with a full-time, on-site, board-certified canine and feline nutrition Specialist. The clinical nutrition service works alongside Specialists in many other fields including internal medicine, surgery, cardiology, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, dermatology, anaesthesia and imaging. These Specialist vets are supported by a large and specialised team of veterinary nurses and support staff to look after hospitalised pets, including in our 24-hour intensive care unit. Finally, Willows has some of the most advanced equipment to perform various diagnostic and treatment procedures.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s dietary needs, please discuss these with your vet, who may refer you to Willows Nutrition Specialist.