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The Results are In! Pet Nutrition - Who's the Expert in your Veterinary Practice?

Posted in Client Service @ May 9th 2013 - By Judy Gillespie
Pet Nutrition Who Is The Expert

Over the last two weeks members of the Vetanswers Community have been having their say on Pet Nutrition - Who's the Expert? via our brief online survey.

Here are the results with a selection of responses......

Question: Has anyone in your veterinary practice attended formal training in pet nutrition?

Yes – 64%

No – 36%

If you answered ‘Yes’, who was it and what was the formal training they attended?

No degrees or anything – constant education from the reps/seminars, etc.

TAFE Course had a module on nutrition and also did the Hills’ sponsored nutrition course.

Royal Canin Pet Health Counsellor Course.  A number of our staff members did this course last year ranging from Client Relations staff, nurses, head nurse and vet nurse manager. A couple of our nurses are currently studying the course.

We have all completed the Eukanuba training to silver level

Nurses – Hills courses and weekends

Vet nurse – completed Hills online veterinary nutritional advocate course.

Question: Do you advertise ‘Pet Nutritional Advice’ as a service at your veterinary practice?

Yes – 36%

No – 64%

If you answered ‘Yes’, is the Nutritional Consultation with a veterinarian, veterinary nurse or another staff member?

75% with a veterinary nurse

25% with a veterinarian

Question: Is it standard practice to discuss pet nutrition at every wellness consultation/vaccination visit?

Yes – 82%

No – 18%

We do discuss for certain breeds (ie large breeds with specific needs for their growth rates) and if the client asks.

Should be!! But I bet the vets don’t!!

Question: Do you tend to rely on sales representatives from pet food companies as your primary source of nutritional education?

Yes – 64%

No – 36%

Who else is qualified to deliver scientific based info?

I use my training, a large slice of common sense and many years practice and observation.

Question: Do you believe your practice relies too heavily on pet food companies for information?

Yes - 54.5%

No – 45.5%

Who else is able to deliver scientific based information?  We are able to see the practical evidence of recommended feeding however this is subjective.  Also information from practical people ie breeders, trainers.  Not many people feed exclusively one particular product.

Question: What do you believe is the best way to gain information on pet nutrition?

(Respondents able to select multiple responses)

Go back to the basics – read clinical nutrition text books – 9%

Contact a veterinary nutritionist at a university – 18%

Contact a veterinary nutritionist at a pet food company – 18%

Research information online – 9%

Attend conference sessions / workshops / webinars – 90%

There are many food manufacturers so as not to get too much bias on product. A uni based nutritionist should be independent advice but may not be practical - unfortunately!! Personal research is always beneficial but time consuming.

Use experience gained through client feedback and own experience as well

Look, learn, listen to all sources - and filter the "information" with a large grain of salt plus common sense. All sources have their own axe to grind, most have a bit of truth in a lot of propaganda.

Question: Would you like to improve your knowledge on pet nutrition?

Yes – 82%

No – 18%

Question: How would you like to improve your knowledge on pet nutrition?

(Respondents able to select multiple responses)

Attend a specialist workshop? – 33%

Attend seminars at a conference? – 56%

Attend webinars? – 78%

Read articles, textbooks, etc.? – 45%

Webinars are time & cost effective.

Particularly natural health.

Question: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Home prepared diets also need to be covered with webinars - there is a good percentage of people who like to do this for their pets

Thanks - a difficult subject with a wide variety of opinions. We tend to recommend a varied diet with bones from puppyhood. Also more therapeutic emphasis/ special diets rather than company/ life stage regular diets. We were Eukanuba for many years but found the company not particularly supportive, and food often less palatable. We currently stock and recommend mostly Royal Canin.

When the topic is something like nutrition, I would like to hear about all of the different types of nutrition offered out there, and the pros and cons of each of them - I don't believe nutrition is a "cook book" recipe, whereas I do believe in individual nutrition.

I think pet food companies need to be more accountable for knowing exactly what they are buying from renderers

Nutrition influences health - but "optimal nutrition" advise has to be adjusted to the individual pet and the client's ability to understand and follow your advice.

So what are the results telling us?

Over 80% of respondents would like to improve their knowledge on pet nutrition. Currently 64% receive their information from pet food company reps and 45% believe their practice relies too heavily on this source for information. The most popular way respondents would like to improve their knowledge on pet food nutrition is via webinars, followed by seminars at a conferences and reading articles, text books, etc. 

So it looks like webinars on pet nutrition delivered by an independent source and including a range of information would be appreciated and a very useful professional development option.

Thanks to all who took part in our survey!  

Comments

Pauline @ Aug 6th 2013 2:30pm
I am not a vet but have spent time and effort over the past 2.5 years researching RAW food diet for my dogs & cats. I feed my dogs & cats BARF (biologically appropriate RAW food) and meaty bones. I do not feed any processed or cooked food. All animals are fit and healthy. My recommendation is that vets support RAW feeding and less emphasis on what the petfood manufacturers tell them. My vet recently told me that the "power of RAW feeding was grossely underestimated." Dogs stomach pH needs to return to 1 - 2 to accomodate raw bones instead of the 6 - 7 as a consequence of feeding cereal based petfoods.
Judy @ Aug 6th 2013 4:04pm
Thanks for your comments Pauline. It's certainly an area with lots of information & lots of options. I've fed my 2 staffies on vet prescribed commercial dry food their entire lives & one is about to turn 18 so I guess the challenge is to find the right food to meet the needs of each pet & their owners. It's good there is such a range of choice out there to meet everyone's needs.

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