Utilizing Telehealth for Veterinary Nutrition

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Companion animal nutrition has become a very complex, complicated, and controversial topic. Pet parents are being flooded with misinformation about grain free diets, raw foods, and boutique products. Conspiracy theories around large corporate brands in addition to rising cost and lack of availability of our trusted brands have created a very confusing space for our pet parents to navigate.

 

Providing nutritional coaching sessions through Anipanion can help your clients choose the best food products and best feeding options for their pets. An educational telehealth session will give you space and time to debunk myths, state the facts, and create a nutritional plan that best fits the client and their pet(s).

 

Here are some Nutritional Topic suggestions to guide your virtual nutrition consultation:

 

Feeding style

  • Does your pet eat quickly or graze throughout the day
  • Does your pet prefer wet, dry, or both consistencies

Feeding substrate

  • Does your pet eat or drink from plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel
  • Are bowls ground level or elevated
  • Food puzzles
  • Slow feeders
  • Interactive feeders

Dietary Restrictions

  • Does your pet refuse certain foods
  • Has your pet been on a food trial before
  • Has your pet had GI distress from a particular brand before
  • Is your pet on a specific diet for any medical issue

Dietary Extras

  • What does your pet eat outside of diet
      • Table foods
      • Bones, rawhides, treats
      • Supplements

Amount to feed

  • Calculate caloric needs for pet based on lifestyle and activity level
  • Discuss body condition scores so pet parent can determine at home if pet is losing or gaining weight

Goals for Pet

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Medical management
      • Kidney disease
      • Skin/allergy
      • Diabetes
      • GI conditions (IBD)
      • Osteoarthritis
  • Decrease in GI symptoms
  • Better coat health

Diets

There are pros and cons to the numerous companion animal diets trending today. Anipanion telehealth sessions can inform pet parents and guide your clients to the best dietary choice for their pets. 

 

Here are some Diet Topic suggestions to guide your virtual nutrition consultation:

 

AAFCO labeling

  • Guaranteed to be nutritionally balanced and complete for pet

Medical

  • Hills, Purina, Royal Canin, etc
  • Prescription required for management of disease process

Grain-free

  • Link to irreversible heart failure
  • Currently being researched
  • <0.01% of dogs require a grain free diet
  • Food allergy is protein related

Raw

  • Can be expensive
  • Large time commitment to meal prep
  • High potential for bacterial contamination (human and pet)
  • Difficult to create balanced and nutritionally complete diet

Freeze Dried

  • Very dehydrating
  • Can be cost prohibitive

Limited Ingredient

Excluding ingredients can be detrimental to canine/feline health

 

Commercial

  • OTC
  • Many AAFCO labeled
  • Variety of flavors, formulations, textures

Boutique

  • Typically not nutritionally balanced or complete
  • Can be very expensive

Veterinary Nutritionists

  • These specialists are a great resource for clients looking for a specific diet or alternative nutritional choices

 

Nutritional consultations done by telehealth can be great for technicians to provide, can be part of a wellness plan or a puppy pack, or part of longer term weight control plans. Many clients want to ask questions about nutrition when they are in an appointment, but rarely is there enough time to cover the topic to it’s full extent when other health issues need to be dealt with. Taking nutrition out of the exam room and into a virtual consult will save time when the patient is in-clinic and provide a more thorough experience for the client.

 

Real-World Scenario

 

Patient

Pet:

Clyde

Client:
Mr. Talksalot

Signalment:
60lbs, 9 month old, MI Golden Retriever

Medical History: UTD puppy vaccines and preventive care. Clyde is now 9 months old has been having soft stool and diarrhea for 6 weeks. Clyde has been coming to your practice since he was 9 weeks old.

Scenario A

During Clyde’s puppy visits and vaccination appointments, Mr. Talksalot asked many questions. Your 20 minute appointment slot with Clyde was often overcome with his owner’s plethora of inquiries.

You explained in detail preventive care, weight control, age for neutering, as well as behavior, socialization, and training tips.

At Clyde’s last puppy appointment, Mr. Talkalot goes to check out and realizes he has a nutrition question. You are already in another room and have 2 others waiting. Your receptionists asks Mr. Talksalot to call back on another day and the doctor will be happy to answer your nutrition question.

Mr. Talkalot calls back the next week, but is met with a busy signal on the other end of the phone line. He tries again and leaves a message, but in the chaos of the day, you never receive it.

Mr. Talksalot then turns to the dark web to answer his nutrition question regarding Clyde and goes down a raw diet rabbit hole. While this diet does have its benefits, it has many negatives for our companion animals.

Clyde quickly develops soft stool within the first 2 weeks of beginning a raw diet which then progresses into watery diarrhea.

Mr. Talksalot calls your clinic to make an appointment. While on the phone with a technician, she asks if there have been any diet changes for Clyde. Mr. Talksalot replies that he has started a raw diet for Clyde in which your tech recommends discontinuing immediately until the appointment.

Mr. Clyde is upset that no one discussed the dangers of a raw diet with him when he brought Clyde in for his puppy appointments. He is now demanding that Clyde receive medical treatment for free since it’s your fault this happened. Insert grumpy face here.

 

Scenario B: Anipanion Telehealth

During Clyde’s puppy visits and vaccination appointments, Mr. Talksalot asked many questions. Your 20 minute appointment slot with Clyde was often overcome with his owner’s plethora of inquiries.

You explained in detail preventive care, weight control, age for neutering, as well as behavior, socialization, and training tips.

At Clyde’s last puppy appointment, Mr. Talkalot goes to check out and realizes he has a nutrition question. Your receptionist recommends an Anipanion video session for a nutrition consultation and sets up Mr. Talksalot with the Anipanion app.

Mr. Talksalot is very pleased that this virtual service is available since Clyde gets car sick.

The next week, Mr. Talkslot and you connect with Anipanion and discuss all and everything canine nutrition. He decides to feed an AAFCO labeled puppy food and will purchase the brand you recommended.

Clyde does not develop diarrhea, continues to grow handsomely, and Mr. Talksalot will be a client for life. You were able to help the client, patient, and monetize your time. Woohoo!

 

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