Consultation with the nutrition service is available to veterinarians (within or outside of PennVet) only.
Depending on the complexity of the case and nutritional plan, a brief consultation (in person or by phone) may fulfill the pet’s needs.
For more complex cases, the pet’s veterinarian provides the clinical nutritionist with information about a pet’s medical history (download our consultation form (pdf)) and lab work, in addition to a detailed diet history (download our diet history form (pdf)) completed by the pet owner.
Based on the information provided, the clinical nutritionist will communicate with the pet’s veterinarian to formulate a nutritional plan for the pet.
For legal and ethical reasons, it is important that all advice given to a pet owner come from a veterinarian who has evaluated the pet and has a relationship with the pet’s owner. The pet’s veterinarian will be the contact person for questions and concerns regarding the pet’s response to the feeding plan.
Depending on the pet’s health status and other factors, feeding plans may include commercially-available over-the-counter or therapeutic diets, home-prepared diets, diets specially prepared for tube-feeding, parenteral (IV) nutrition, and dietary supplements.
In addition to making recommendations specific to diet selection, clinical nutritionists provide information on ideal amounts, timing, and frequency of feeding, as well as the formulation of a plan for monitoring a pet’s response to dietary therapy.
Charges for consultations are billed to the veterinarian’s hospital and vary with the type of consultation and nutritional plan prescribed.
To request consultation with the Clinical Nutrition Service
- For urgent consultations, please call 215-898-4218 and specify that an emergency clinical nutrition consultation is needed, so that we can be contacted directly.
- You may download the consult and diet history forms (see below) or request them by fax (Call the Referral Office at (877-PENN VET or 877-736-6838).
- The forms and any information pertaining to this consultation that you would like to include (e.g., clinical laboratory results) can be emailed or faxed to us.
- Email: email@example.com
FAX: 215-573-4617, Attn. Clinical Nutrition Service
- Please indicate your name and the patient identifying information on any faxes so we can direct this information to the appropriate case.
- We will contact you within 48 hours although depending upon the nature of the consultation it may take longer to accomplish all aspects of the request.
To refer a case, please call the Ryan Veterinary Hospital Referring Veterinarian Services at 215-898-4218 and request that the patient be seen by either the Clinical Nutrition Service, or the most appropriate out-patient service and indicate that you are also requesting that the Clinical Nutrition Service be consulted as part of the referral.
Outpatient appointments with the Clinical Nutrition Service are available.
Pet owners may wish to schedule an appointment with the Clinical Nutrition service for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons are:
Specific medical conditions:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Food allergies
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Liver disease
- Skin disease
- Urinary stones
- Choosing the best diet for a pet
- Determining amounts to feed
- Evaluating dietary supplements
- Feeding alternative diets
- Finding a diet that meets particular pet owner specifications
- Formulating a balanced home-prepared diet
- Optimizing performance in working dogs
In order to obtain the most benefit from an appointment with the Clinical Nutrition Service, it is important that we are able to review a pet’s diet and medical history and contact the pet’s primary care veterinarian before the appointment. This allows us to spend the appointment discussing topics relevant to the pet and answering the pet owner’s specific questions, rather than gathering this information.
- For this reason, appointments should be scheduled 1-2 weeks in advance.
To schedule an appointment with the Clinical Nutrition Service, please call 215.746.8387 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Please provide contact information for the pet’s primary care veterinarian at the time the appointment is scheduled.
- Complete the diet history form (pdf) and submit it by email, fax, or mail.
- Contact your primary care veterinarian and request your pet’s medical record be faxed, mailed, or emailed to the Clinical Nutrition Service.
To submit these documents:
Fax: (215) 573-6050
Mail:Dr. Amy Farcas,
Clinical Nutrition Service
Ryan Veterinary Hospital
3900 Delancey St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6010
Alternative Pet Diets
Some alternatives to conventional commercial pet foods are listed below:
- Home-prepared diets
- Natural, organic, or human food-grade diets
- Vegetarian diets
- Raw food diets
Pros and Cons of Alternative Diets for Your Pets
|Home-Prepared Diets |
Alleviates concerns about wholesomeness/nutritional
value of commercial food.
Pets may prefer the taste over commercial food.
Necessary for diagnostic or therapeutic reasons.
Requires specialized knowledge to formulate a complete and balanced diet.
On-line recipes may be deficient in one or more areas.
Difficulty in finding appropriate ingredients.
Greater investment of time, and likely of money.
|Natural, Organic or Human Food-Grade Diets |
Gets away from additives, preservatives, coloring and flavorings being in pet food.
Some regulatory oversight of labeling of these foods exists.
Rules for labeling pet food as organic are pending.
No government standards for defining the term human-grade with respect to pet food.
Food needs to be used in accordance with its shelf life.
|Vegetarian Diets |
May fall in line with a person's own convictions.
Easier for dogs to have vegetarian diets because
their nutrient requirements are not as stringent
Formulating a complete and balanced
vegetarian diet can be challenging.
Several essential nutrients for cats are found only
in animal ingredients.
Synthetic nutrients would be required, and as such,
the diet would not be natural.
Protein requirements are higher in cats and dogs
than in humans.
Many home-prepared vegetarian diets are inadequate.
|Raw Food Diets |
Owners can home-prepare diets or use
commercially available products.
Anecdotally have been promoted for their
Risk of contamination by Salmonella and other
bacteria, which puts pets and their owners at risk.
Raw food diets have been found to have nutrient
excesses and deficiencies.
Not good for animals with increased nutrient
demands, i.e., newborns.
Must be careful about feeding bones.
Pet Food Recalls
Periodically, recalls and alerts issued regarding pet food, including dog and cat foods and. The information is based on reports and alerts received from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and/or the manufacturers.
Visit the FDA’s ‘Recalls & Withdrawals’ list for the latest information on pet food recalls.
Learn more about the FDA's role in pet food regulation.
To report an adverse event associated with pet food, submit a report to the FDA.