16 essential nutritional history questions

How to conduct an effective interview with clients.
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Sep 01, 2010

While you're taking a patient's history, ask the client the questions below regarding the pet's current diet. You may notice some of the questions appear to be similar. The slight variation in the way the questions are asked is meant to prompt owners to think about all the food offered to their pets. For instance, one type of large dental chew is 600 calories and another medium-size one is listed as 188 calories.

1. Has there been any recent history of involuntary weight gain or loss? If yes, how many pounds and during what time period? (Remember, acute, involuntary weight loss is more significant than weight lost over a long period.)

2. Any history of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea? If so, how often?

3. Any changes in the pet's appetite, urination, or defecation? If so, describe the changes and duration.

4. Does the pet have any difficulty chewing or swallowing?

5. Does the pet have any allergies?

6. Any recent change in the pet's diet?

7. How many people, including children, reside in the household? Who is primarily responsible for feeding the pet?

8. Are there other pets in the household? If so, do they have access to one another's food?

9. What kind of food does the pet eat? (Get specific information, such as brand and product name.)

10. How much food does the pet eat? (Get specific data, such as number of cups or number and size of cans.)

11. Is the pet fed any commercial pet treats? If so, what brand and size, and how often?

12. Does the pet get any chew or dental treats? If so, what brand and size, and how often?

13. Does the pet get any table foods? If so, what variety, how often, and how much?

14. Do you ever use food to administer medications? If so, what variety, how often, and how much?

15. Do you give the pet any nutritional supplements? If so, what variety, how often, and how much?

16. Does the pet get into the garbage, obtain food from outside sources (e.g. neighbors), or hunt prey?