Unlike a face-to-face appointment our consultations are online without any need to see you or your dog in person.
This is a different approach to what many dog owners would normally have with their vet, and I am often asked about our consultations, how they work and exactly what’s involved.
In short, an online consultation will run just like a face-to-face consultation – starting with finding out why you’ve contacted us, what your dog’s challenges are and what goal(s) you’re hoping to achieve.
To make the process clearer, below I’ve outlined the various steps in the consultation process, and how we’ll work together to the benefit of your dog’s diet and overall health.
Learning about you and your dog
On booking a consultation, the first thing you will receive is a detailed intake form that you will need to fill out and return to me. In the form, I ask things like the reason(s) you want a consultation and what your aims for it are.
I’ll also ask for information on your dog’s diet, to help me get to know them and their eating habits better. I might ask for information including (but not limited to):
- Your preferred feeding method. (e.g. raw or cooked)
- Any foods your dog likes / dislikes
- Foods you want to avoid giving your dog
- Their diet history (e.g. have they been on a special diet before)
In addition, I’ll need to know about your dog’s activity levels and their overall health, including if they have any underlying health issues. As part of this, I may require access to information from your veterinarian, such as your dog’s general medical history, their blood chemistry and urine analysis test results and any other relevant information.
While this may seem like a lot of information to provide, having it allows me to carry out the best consultation and in turn, get the best results possible for your dog. Access to information from your veterinarian is particularly important in cases where a dog has a progressive disease (e.g. kidney disease) and provides me with a good baseline from which to judge progress and measure results.
What does a bespoke diet look like?
Armed with this information, I’ll go through it and determine if I need to know anything else and subsequently, the best direction to go in for your dog’s bespoke diet, including which ingredients and foods to use and which to avoid.
But what exactly might this look like? The short answer is it will look different for every single dog. A bespoke diet is designed around a specific dog and their nutritional and health needs, breed, age, and activity levels.
For example, if your dog has kidney disease, I will design a diet specifically for their stage of the disease. This means the diet of a dog with early-onset disease will be different to that of a dog with late-stage disease.
Or if your dog has digestive issues or food sensitivities, I might start them out on an elimination diet.
If your dog has multiple health concerns, with conflicting nutrient requirements, the approach I take is to formulate a diet for the most immediately threatening health condition first, in order to get it better under control and better managed. From there, we will tackle the other health issues, all the while ensuring that any potential nutritional conflicts are managed and your dog receives the best, balanced diet that they need.
Do you do all of this with just food?
A question that I often get asked is whether it’s possible to get a truly balanced diet through food only – that is, can it be done without the use of supplements.
The honest answer is no, it can’t. Where possible and in most cases, I use a mixture of foods to develop a balanced diet. But supplements will always be necessary.
Some people might find this surprising and might not agree with the use of supplements. Nevertheless, the fact remains that successfully feeding your dog a fully balanced diet without the use of supplements is challenging at best, impossible at worse.
This is because to do so would require using a lot of different foods and ingredients, often in large quantities, some of which might be very expensive and difficult to source, while others might be simply impractical to include or unpalatable to your dog.
So, to offset these challenges and still provide your dog with a balanced diet, I use a range of supplements in my recipes and diet plans. Examples of supplements I use include:
- Vitamins and minerals for overall health
- Fish oils for join health
- Fiber supplements to help digestion
Which supplements I use is based on the individual dog, their nutritional needs, and their dietary limitations.
What will you receive?
One diet recipe is included in the consultation.
Once I have finished the first draft of your dog’s diet recipe, I will send you an email to confirm that the food ingredients used are convenient for you to source and you and your dog are happy with the ingredients.
When we have the new dietary approach established, I will send over the recipe including a nutritional breakdown of the diet and general dietary guidelines that provided more information and FAQ such as ‘how to make the switch from your current diet to the home-prepared diet’, ‘ingredient substitutions, ‘supplements’ and much more.
I will also outline the nutritional goals of the recipe and why those features are appropriate for your dog.
What happens after you’ve received the recipe?
Once you have received the recipe, we get to work implementing it and monitoring how your dog responds to it.
During the whole of the implementation phase, I will ask you to keep me updated on progress, and will ask for specific bits of information including how the diet is affecting your dog’s:
- Bowel movements
- Energy levels
For dogs with underlying health issues, I will also ask for details surrounding that – for example in dogs with bladder stones, I’ll ask for regular updates on the urine pH levels. And in dogs with kidney disease, I will ask for updates on blood and urine tests.
What kind of follow up is provided?
The consultation includes on hour of follow up. This includes email support and diet revisions as necessary. This is generally enough time for most dogs to get settled into a new diet regime. However, complex cases such as dogs with food intolerances and digestive issues may need more time and additional hours will be based upon hourly rates.
I hope you found this blog helps to answer some of your questions and an online consultation don’t seem so scary or impersonal now. If you have any questions or would like help choosing the best consultation for your dog, please feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to working with you and your dog