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To examine the effect of 3 diet history questions on the amount and type of diet-related information gathered from pet owners and to assess whether diet-related information obtained with each question in person differed from information obtained with a diet history survey.


99 pet owners.


Participants' responses to 1 of 3 randomly selected diet history questions (“Tell me everything he [or she] eats throughout a day, starting first thing in the morning right through to the end of the day”; “What kind of food does she [or he] eat?”; or “What kind of foods does he [or she] eat?”) were recorded and coded for analysis. Participants completed a postinteraction diet history survey. Amount and type of diet-related information obtained were compared among responses to the 3 diet history questions and between the response to each question and the diet history survey.


The “Tell me…” question elicited a significantly higher total number of diet-related items (combined number of main diet, treat, human food, medication, and dietary supplement items) than did the “What kind of food…” or “What kind of foods…” questions. The diet history survey captured significantly more information than did the “What kind of food…” or “What kind of foods…” questions; there was little difference between results of the diet history survey and the “Tell me…” question, except that treats were more frequently disclosed on the survey.


Findings reinforced the value of using broad, open questions or requests that invite expansion from clients for gathering diet-related information.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association