Nutrition guidelines for dogs and cats


The nutritional status of cats and dogs is a very important indicator of their health and welfare and should be assessed by veterinarians as part of a holistic approach to veterinary care.


Deficiencies or excesses in calories, vitamins and minerals and potential toxicities can impact on the health of dogs and cats and must be assessed by veterinarians.

Obesity is a disease just as debilitating as emaciation and pet owners should strive to avoid diet and body condition related diseases.

In 2011(Revised, 2013) the Global Nutrition Committee of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) produced small animal nutrition guidelines with the specific aim of promoting the importance of nutritional assessments and recommendations to every pet at every visit. They developed a global initiative to promote nutritional assessment as the 5th Vital Sign that should be assessed in the standard physical examination along with temperature, pulse, respiration and pain assessment.

WSAVA has also launched a nutritional toolkit which is described as; ” The toolkit includes practical aids for the veterinary healthcare team to make nutritional assessment and recommendations more efficient, such as a diet history form, hospitalized patient feeding guide, body condition score charts, and calorie recommendations for dogs and cats”.

PetFAST is a voluntary joint initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia (PFIAA).

It is a system to track health problems in dogs and cats that are suspected of being associated with pet food, treats and pet meat. It is designed to identify possible patterns that might point to a cause.

Only veterinarians in Australia can make a report to PetFAST. They report details of adverse events that they suspect are associated with pet food, treats or pet meat for dogs and cats.

AVA and PFIAA monitor PetFAST reports for similarities that may indicate a possible problem. If a problem that might affect more pets is identified, a joint committee will meet to discuss what action should be taken.

  • Veterinarians are professionals best placed to assess the optimum nutritional requirements for any individual dog or cat and should strive to keep pet owners informed of the importance of optimum body conditioning for pet health and wellbeing.
  • Veterinarians are ideally placed to provide sound dietary recommendations and these should be made in line with current scientific knowledge. Some disease conditions may be treated or alleviated by dietary management and this should be done under veterinary guidance. 
  • When formulating a nutritional program, deficiencies or excesses in calories, vitamins and minerals and an awareness of potential toxicities of the many nutritional sources must be considered.
  • Breed and species differences must be understood in the formulation of nutritional programs.

WSAVA Nutrition Guidelines, 2011 (Revised 2013).

Date ratified by AVA Board: December 2013

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