To investigate the effect of statements made by veterinarians during a pet wellness appointment on a pet owner's decision to consider changing their pet's diet.
Pet owners who presented their dogs and cats for wellness examinations from December 2018 to February 2019 to a veterinary medical teaching hospital or an affiliated low-cost community clinic.
Pet owners completed part 1 of the survey, which included questions on various pet characteristics (eg, signalment and current diet) and pet owner's degree of satisfaction with their pet's diet, after a veterinary medical student obtained the pet's medical history and examined the pet. At the conclusion of the wellness appointment, owners completed part 2, which included pet owner demographics (eg, gender and highest educational level) and statements regarding personal, food manufacturer, and pet health that could be made by a veterinarian regarding a pet's diet to which owners were asked to react.
84 dog and 36 cat owners completed the survey. Statements based on pet health and personal (veterinarian) preferences were the most and least effective, respectively, on owners to consider changing their pet's diet. Pet owner gender and pet species did not alter the findings. Most (93%) pet owners were at least somewhat willing to change their pet's diet on the basis of a veterinarian's recommendation.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE
When a pet's diet is discussed in the context of a pet's health, a primary care veterinarian consulting with a pet owner during a wellness appointment may be most persuasive to the owner for changing their pet's diet.
Evaluate whether general practitioners’ formal small animal (canine and feline) nutrition instruction in veterinary school and the amount and type of continuing education engagement affect perceived self-reported confidence and frequency in discussing nutrition with clients.
403 small animal veterinarians who responded to an online survey distributed through the American Animal Hospital Association.
Veterinarians were surveyed regarding perceived amount of formal instruction received in veterinary school, interest, time committed to self-education, and confidence in both self and staff knowledge in small animal nutrition.
Of those veterinarians who responded to the survey, 57.1% (201/352) reported they received “none” or “very little” formal instruction in small animal nutrition, while 151 of 352 answered “some” or “a significant amount.” Veterinarians with more formal instruction and veterinarians who reported spending more time in self-education had increased confidence in their own nutritional knowledge (P < .01) and that of their staff (P < .01).
Veterinarians with self-reported significant formal instruction and veterinarians with higher continuing education engagement were more confident in their knowledge and their staff’s knowledge regarding therapeutic and nontherapeutic small animal nutrition. Therefore, it is important for the profession to address veterinary nutrition education gaps in order to increase the veterinary healthcare team’s engagement in nutritional discussions with their clients for both healthy and sick pets.
To evaluate the voluntary acceptance of 10 commercially available compounding flavors in cats.
46 healthy cats between 1 and 12 years of age.
Each cat underwent a 14-day study period consisting of a 4-day acclimation period followed by a 10-day trial period in which each cat was randomly offered 10 different compounding flavors. Owners completed a presurvey along with a daily observation logbook. Kits, including residual amounts of flavors, were returned and weighed to determine residual weight and calculate the amount ingested.
Overall, cats did not voluntarily accept most of the compounding flavors; 58.8% (124/211) and 84.5% (267/311) of offered samples of oil-based and water-based compounding flavors, respectively, were rejected or minimally accepted. Cats were significantly (P < .001) more likely to accept oil-based flavors, compared to water-based flavors. The sweet water-based flavors were least accepted, compared to water-based control and water-based savory flavors (P = .040 and P < .001, respectively). Owner-perceived acceptance was moderately correlated with residual flavor weights (Kendall tau [τ] = –0.466; P < .001). Owners were not able to accurately predict which flavors their cats would accept.
Cats should be offered oil-based compounding flavorings when available, whereas water-based sweet flavorings should be avoided. Owner perception of acceptance is a valid metric to assess flavor acceptance, which can be used in future studies evaluating flavor acceptance. Owners may not accurately predict their cats’ flavor preferences, limiting their ability to guide optimal flavor selection.
To determine what perceived factors prevent small animal general practitioners from discussing pet nutrition with clients during healthy and sick pet appointments.
403 veterinarians in small animal general practice.
An online survey was used to gather veterinarians’ opinions on perceived barriers, knowledge levels, and confidence regarding pet nutrition discussions.
Reported barriers to discussing nutrition during healthy pet appointments included client resistance to changing brand (149/359), time constraints (146/359), misinformation online (138/359), and difficulty keeping up with products (132/359). Reported barriers to discussing nutrition during sick pet appointments included client cost concerns (101/349), pet not accepting new food (99/349), and time constraints (83/349). Veterinarians reported discussing nutrition less during healthy pet appointments, compared to sick pet appointments, and were significantly less confident with their knowledge regarding nontherapeutic food, compared to therapeutic food. Veterinarians also reported that they perceived conversations about therapeutic foods to be more positive than conversations about nontherapeutic foods, and veterinarians with more years in practice more commonly reported that there was nothing that would dissuade them from discussing nutrition. Veterinarians who reported barriers to discussing nutrition described a need for resources and reliable information for health-care teams and clients.
Results demonstrated a substantial gap between veterinarians’ assertion that nutrition conversations are indicated and the frequency with which they discuss nutrition during appointments. Veterinarians reported that they felt their nutrition conversations were frequently positive; therefore, it is important to overcome barriers to engage with clients about pet nutrition.