CONTACT US

Phone: 540-231-4621
Fax: 540-231-9354
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Email:
vthpatientservices@vt.edu
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Nutrition Service
Veterinary Teaching Hospital
245 Duck Pond Drive
Blacksburg, VA 24061

We are a veterinary referral service in the mid-Atlantic region staffed by faculty who are board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, which recognizes clinical expertise in nutrition and residents training in the specialty of clinical nutrition.

Mission

  • Provide high-quality consultation to veterinarians on the nutritional management of healthy or sick small and large animal patients
  • Assist primary care faculty with nutritional support for patients in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Nutrition services

Balanced nutrition is the cornerstone of maintaining health and prolonging the longevity of small and large animals. Our service works with referring veterinarians and primary care faculty within the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to provide optimum nutrition for healthy and sick patients.

Small animal patients

  • Commercial diet recommendation
  • Weight-reduction and weight-maintenance plans
  • Homemade diet recipe formulation
  • Assisted feeding for critical patients

Large animal patients

  • Farm visits and on-farm consultations
  • Forage analysis
  • Balanced ration formulation for individual or herd
  • Assisted feeding for critical patients

Nutrition appointments and consultations

* We require a veterinary referral for all services.

  1. The patient's referring veterinarian (or veterinary clinic staff on behalf of the patient's veterinarian) completes and submits the Veterinarian Nutrition Service Request Form.
  2. The Nutrition Coordinator sends the Client Nutrition Service Request Form and prepayment information to the client. The completed Client Nutrition Service Request Form must be submitted before the nutrition appointment is scheduled.
  3. The Nutrition Coordinator schedules the nutrition appointment with the client. The veterinarian is notified of the nutrition appointment date.
  4. Prepayment must be submitted by noon the day before the nutrition appointment to retain the nutrition appointment.
  5. The veterinary nutritionist will meet with the client to conduct the one-hour remote nutrition appointment, typically by phone.
  6. The written nutrition recommendation is delivered to the client and the veterinarian by midnight on the Friday following the nutrition appointment.
  1. The patient's referring veterinarian (or veterinary clinic staff on behalf of the patient's veterinarian) completes and submits the Veterinarian Nutrition Service Request Form.
  2. The Nutrition Coordinator sends the client the Client Nutrition Service Request Form. The completed Client Nutrition Service Request Form must be submitted before the nutrition appointment is scheduled.
  3. The Nutrition Coordinator schedules the nutrition appointment with the client. The veterinarian is notified of the nutrition appointment date.
  4. The veterinary nutritionist will meet with the client to conduct the one-hour in-house nutrition appointment at the veterinary college in Blacksburg, VA.
  5. Payment is collected from the client at the end of the nutrition appointment.
  6. The written nutrition recommendation is delivered to the client and the veterinarian by midnight on the Friday following the nutrition appointment.
  1. The patient's referring veterinarian (or veterinary clinic staff on behalf of the patient's veterinarian) completes and submits the Veterinarian Nutrition Service Request Form.
  2. The Nutrition Coordinator sends the Client Nutrition Service Request Form to the client. The completed Client Nutrition Service Request Form must be submitted before the nutrition consult is scheduled.
  3. The Nutrition Coordinator schedules the nutrition consult (i.e., when the veterinary nutritionist will start to review the case and formulate the nutrition recommendations). The veterinarian is notified of the nutrition consult date. Note: Although there is no appointment associated with the nutrition consult, the nutrition consult is still added to the nutrition schedule in a designated slot to manage workload.
  4. The written nutrition recommendation is delivered to the veterinarian by midnight on the Friday following the nutrition appointment.
  5. The veterinarian is billed.

Veterinarians

  • Use the links above to access the Veterinary Nutrition Service Request Form. Complete and submit the form online. Alternatively, a printable version is available for download: Look for the blue button in the top-right corner of the Veterinary Nutrition Service Request Form. Completed Nutrition Service Request Forms can be emailed to vthpatientservices@vt.edu or faxed to 540-231-9354.

Clients

  • If you are interested in working with the Veterinary Nutrition Service, talk to your veterinarian about a referral. The Veterinary Nutrition Service is unable to provide formal guidance without a referral from your veterinarian.

Nutrition resources

Frequently asked nutrition questions

We believe an adequate diet is one that maintains ideal condition and weight for the appropriate life stage of your pet. If your pet is losing or gaining body weight, losing interest in his/her food, or has a change in health status, contact your veterinarian because a diet change may be indicated.

There are many commercial diets on the market and many myths about nutrition; thus, choosing a food for your pet can be a daunting task. Our general guidelines are as follows:

  1. The product label has an AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement, such as the following:
    1. "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate [diet name] provides complete and balanced nutrition for [maintenance of adult dogs/cats, growing puppies/kittens, AND/OR gestating or lactating adult female dogs or cats]" OR
    2. "[diet name] is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO [Dog or Cat] Food Nutrient Profiles for [adult maintenance, growth, reproduction, AND/OR all life stages]"
  2. The AAFCO statement states that the food is appropriate for your pet's species (dog or cat).
  3. The AAFCO statement states that the food is appropriate for your pet's life stage, which includes adult maintenance, growth, or reproduction (gestation/lactation). We recommend that you review the points stated in the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee's "Selecting the Best Food for your Pet."

You may believe that some ingredients should be avoided while others are ideal. The only ingredients that we specifically recommend avoiding are those that are toxic to pets, including garlic, onion, and grapes.

Caloric requirements vary between individuals and can be influenced by activity. For example, if your pet is becoming less active with age, then the total daily calorie requirements will likely be less and pet owners may need to feed less. Likewise, caloric requirements typically decrease after spaying or neutering. If your pet acts hungry with less food, you may select a food that has less calories per cup. The amount of food needed is estimated and must be adjusted based on your pet’s weight and body condition (see "Body condition scoring charts" above).

Treats contribute to daily calories (kcal), but are not complete and balanced. We recommend feeding no more than 10% of total daily calories as treats because feeding more than this may result in malnutrition. Often, the pet’s current food may be offered as a treat.

Table scraps are a source of extra calories, could lead to obesity, may include toxic ingredients (e.g., onion, garlic, grapes), and may cause gastrointestinal upset (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea). We generally do not recommend feeding table scraps.

A complete loss of appetite may indicate a disease. Therefore, loss of appetite longer than 2-3 days should be addressed by your pet's veterinarian.

Our goal is to feed a nutritionally complete diet per National Research Council or Association of American Feed Control Officials adult cat or dog requirements. There are no specific requirements for the senior pet. However, seniors may develop organ dysfunction (e.g., heart, joint, or kidney), and so the diet may be adjusted depending on the specific condition of your pet.

Homemade recipe formulation is complex; therefore, we recommend a single recipe for your pet. If you would like additional recipes, additional fees will apply.

Choose ingredients that your pet likes and will eat consistently. If you do not know what ingredients your pet likes, we suggest that you do the following: Choose a primary protein and primary carbohydrate source (see the table on the client consult request form) that are easily accessible to you, prepare these ingredients for your pet (cook the meat), and monitor intake. If you pet doesn't like the selected ingredients, try others.

The solution is to select a commercial or homemade diet that contains foods or ingredients that do not contain the offending ingredient(s), typically a protein or carbohydrate source. We will select ingredients that are new to your pet, so a complete dietary history is required to determine previous exposure to ingredients. We call this process an "elimination or diet trial" as your pet may or may not respond to the new diet. As a result, it can take weeks to months to arrive at an acceptable diet for your pet.

We do not see reason for concern provided you are purchasing rice produced for human consumption.

Supplemental fish oil may be helpful and safe. However, we don't recommend casually adding fish oil to your pet's diet without considering the total omega-6 and total omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Please contact your veterinarian for guidance. We are happy to speak with your veterinarian to determine the best plan for your pet.

Nutrition personnel

Morgan Johnson
Morgan Johnson, Patient Coordinator, Clinical Nutrition