Statement 

The BSAVA strongly recommends that all companion animals are fed a nutritionally balanced diet suitable to their nutritional needs, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Acts and relevant welfare codes.

The BSAVA recognises that obesity can cause health and welfare problems for companion animals and therefore strongly recommends that bodyweight and body condition score are monitored regularly and diets modified to maintain a healthy weight and body condition score.

The BSAVA recommend that veterinary staff carry out a nutritional assessment on all animals presented for routine health checks (to include regular recording of weight and body condition score) in order to provide nutritional advice to maintain health and welfare.

Since disease can alter nutritional needs and the ability to absorb and utilize nutrients nutritional assessments should also be undertaken on sick animals at regular intervals.

The BSAVA strongly recommends that where home prepared diets are fed appropriate advice is given to ensure that these are nutritionally complete and meet the needs of the animal.

Where raw food (especially that containing meat and meat products) is fed the BSAVA strongly recommends that hygiene measures are in place to minimize the risk of the transmission of communicable disease. Where there are children or immune compromised adults in the household medical advice should be sought, before considering whether to prepare, handle and store raw food. 

Background information

The requirements for nutrients will vary with the species, size and life-stage of the animal as well as its level of activity. Nutrient requirements can also be significantly affected by a wide range of disease conditions and the addition or restriction of certain nutrients may be required in the management of a range of diseases.

Obesity is now recognized as a major problem in all companion animal species. While rabbits and many non-traditional companion animals are at risk of malnutrition as a result of being fed nutritionally unbalanced diets.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) suggests a two part approach to nutritional assessment. All animals should receive a screening evaluation which should be carried out as part of the consultation process and involves taking a brief nutritional history, recording of body condition score and where possible bodyweight. An extended evaluation is indicated for patients identified to be at risk of any nutrition-related problem identified during the screening evaluation.

Other statements 

WSAVA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines

FEDIAF - European Pet Food Industry nutritional guidelines

PFMA - UK Pet Food Codes of Practice

Provenance

Scientific Committee 2014 - ratified BSAVA Council November 2014

FEDIAF and PFMA information added November 2017

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