A Descriptive Study on the Extent of Dietary Information Obtained during Consultations at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital

Animals (Basel). 2022 Mar 6;12(5):661. doi: 10.3390/ani12050661.


The majority of dogs with chronic idiopathic gastrointestinal (GI) disease respond to diet. So far, no study has assessed how much dietary information is obtained during consultations. We retrospectively evaluated what dietary information was available from dogs presenting to our Gastroenterology (GE), and Internal Medicine (IM) Service between 10/2017 and 01/2020. Data from 243 dogs presenting for first GE consultations were compared to 239 dogs presenting with chronic GI signs for first IM consultations. Referrals comprised 131 (54%) GE dogs and 112 (47%) IM dogs. Referral documents specified the previously fed diet in 53/131 (40%) GE and 14/112 (13%) IM dogs. No dog had received more than one previous diet trial for chronic GI signs. Irrespective of referral status, diet trials had been performed in 127/199 (64%) GE, and 56/156 (36%) IM dogs. The specific diet fed at the time of consultation could only be named by 106/199 (53%) GE and 40/156 (26%) IM dog owners. Data on response to subsequent newly prescribed diets were available from 86 GE dogs and 88 IM dogs. A positive response to diet was noted in 50/86 (58%) GE and 26/88 (30%) IM dogs. A further 23/35 (66%) GE dogs and 12/21 (57%) IM dogs responded positively to a second diet trial, and 4/9 GE dogs (44%) and 6/7 (86%) IM dogs responded positively to a third diet trial. In conclusion, overall dietary information gained from referring veterinarians and owners was often incomplete. More dietary information could be gained during GE consultations compared to IM consultations for chronic GI signs. A positive response to diet can still be seen after two diet failures. Further studies will help to ascertain if the percentage of diet-responsive GI disease increases when more complete dietary information is obtained at the time of consultations.

Keywords: dog; food; gastrointestinal; history; owner; referral; response.