The World Small Animal Veterinary Association developed global nutrition guidelines to raise awareness of nutrition as the fifth vital assessment (5VA) in a standard physical exam for pets.

If published, 5VA would require a nutritional assessment and specific dietary recommendation be made for every patient on all visits. The other four vitals required to be assessed at each visit are temperature, pulse, respiration and pain.

To reach the goal of worldwide implementation of 5VA, WSAVA Guidelines Development Committee met for a second time at the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando, Florida. The group formulated a plan to build an alliance of global veterinary organizations to help healthcare teams and pet owners begin implementing the guidelines on an international basis. The Committee's next steps include working to publish the guidelines and encouraging other stakeholders to get involved. WSAVA says its hope is that global veterinary organizations will join with the group to encourage veterinary healthcare teams and institutions to make nutrition a routine part of their recommendation procedures.

“Our team met for two full days during NAVC, and we are all very enthusiastic about the plans ahead for the WSAVA guidelines. We took the existing AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) guidelines to use as a model, and will be working toward the mutual goal of making pet nutrition recommendations relevant worldwide,” said Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN, professor of clinical nutrition at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. “These guidelines are an important resource that global veterinary practices, petfood companies and all others invested in optimal small animal health can benefit from.”