Developing a nutrition program in your practice

Take your patient care to the next level by creating a nutrition program you can turn to time and time again.

All too often, veterinary clinics will put a huge effort into areas such as parasite prevention and booster vaccinations – but their patients’ nutrition will take a back seat. We find that pet parents are turning to other sources for their information. However, Facebook groups and online forums are a poor substitute for professional advice. It’s our duty to educate our clients on the correct nutrition for their pets. Without this, they risk feeding unbalanced homemade diets, raw diets that may not be ‘above-board’ or inappropriate supermarket options.

Do nutrition programs truly add value?

Done correctly, nutrition programs are a great tool that add value to your clinic. Pet parents are generally keen to get on board and their trust and confidence in the clinic is sure to grow. When services like this are offered, clients feel they are getting more ‘bang for their buck’ when paying for their consultation.

On top of this, many clients will elect to feed a diet and/or treats sold by the practice when they’re offered as part of an established nutrition program. While this may not be where the most money is made, we’d be foolish to ignore the additional revenue that it can bring in.

A team effort

The whole team can get on board when a nutrition program is developed, and we find that vet techs in particular can enjoy carrying out nutritional consultations. They can ask pet parents to fill in lifestyle questionnaires, weigh the pet and determine their Body Condition Score. Appropriate diets can then be discussed and the client can be shown how to weigh the portion or use measurement cups. We can also use this as an opportunity to make clients aware of calorie requirements and obesity prevention.

The healing power of food

Nutrition plays a huge role in disease prevention and treatment, and is not an area to be ignored. Prescription pet food is a booming market for good reason.

  • Diet is particularly critical in the aging population, affecting the progression of osteoarthritis and cognitive dysfunction1. Many pet parents feel helpless in the face of their pet getting older and appreciate any help we can offer.
  • With more and more overweight patients walking through the doors, it’s vital we are prepared to offer our clients a real solution. Being overweight can lead to a myriad of long-term health issues including diabetes, osteoarthritis and certain cancers2. Some dog breeds such as miniature Poodles and Dachshunds are more genetically susceptible to diabetes. Calorie restricted and Satiety diets are a real cornerstone of obesity treatment.

Increasing profitability

With a strong and established nutrition program you should find more and more clients are browsing your shelves for their pet foods. Where possible, offer a choice of food that falls into a variety of price categories. With a daily expense like pet food, we know that many clients are on a restricted budget so it can be worth stocking some more affordable options.

When done right, nutrition programs have the potential to increase practice profitability, improve staff morale and benefit the health of our patients.

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