WSAVA nutritional assessment guidelines

J Feline Med Surg. 2011 Jul;13(7):516-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jfms.2011.05.009.


Objectives: Careful assessment of the nutritional needs of cats and dogs must be taken into consideration in order to maintain optimum health, be part of a treatment regimen for a diseased state, or to maximize the quality of life in all animals. The goal of these World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Guidelines is that a nutritional assessment and specific nutritional recommendation is made for every patient on every visit. This will become known as the 5th Vital Assessment (5VA), following the four vital assessments of temperature, pulse, respiration and pain that are already addressed on each patient interaction.

Evaluation of nutritional status: A brief screening evaluation of nutritional status can be routinely and seamlessly performed during the history-taking and physical examination of every patient. Nutrition-related risk factors that can be easily identified from the history and physical examination include age (growing or old), suboptimal body condition score (overweight or thin), muscle loss, atypical or homemade diet, medical conditions or changes in appetite. An extended evaluation would follow if one or more risk factors is identified on screening. These guidelines provide criteria with which to evaluate the animal and the diet, as well as key feeding and environmental factors. In addition, recommendations for interpretation, analysis and action are included so that a plan for optimizing the animal's nutritional status can be instituted.

Team approach: Client compliance with nutritional recommendations requires input from the veterinarian, veterinary technicians/nurses and hospital staff. A team approach to continuous nutritional education, implementation of appropriate protocols, and focused client communication, utilizing these WSAVA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines, is key to reaching this 5VA goal.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Physical Examination / veterinary*
  • Societies
  • Veterinary Medicine / standards*