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Bergler, R.; Wechsung, S.; Kienzle, E.; Hoff, T. and Dobenecker, B. (2016): Ernährungsberatung in der Kleintierpraxis – ein Arbeitsfeld für spezialisierte Tierärzte. In: Tierärztliche Praxis / K, Kleintiere, Vol. 44, No. 1: pp. 5-14

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Objective and aim: The study aimed to identify barriers to the implementation of nutrition consultation in veterinary practice. Differences between individual veterinarians in their problem-solving strategies in nutrition consultation were investigated. Materials and methods: Representative online survey of 214 veterinarians (female/male) using a standardized questionnaire. Statistical analysis by correlations, t-test, analysis of variance and factor analysis as well as cluster analysis of types of veterinarians. Results: Over 90% of vets had seen an increase in owners' questions on feeding pets. Forty-one percent estimated the percentage of patients suffering from nutrition-related diseases in their practice to be 20-30%. At the same time, 70% of vets agreed that nutrition consultation was neglected in every-day practice. Vets estimated that only 30% of owners complied with recommendations on nutrition. Over 80% of vets presumed that pet owners gave false information on feeding. For other sensitive questions, including domestic and financial situations, the percentage of presumed false information was below 60%. Approximately 50% of the vets did not feel sufficiently competent with regard to nutrition consultation. Less than 50% asked for payment of nutrition consultation. Only 18% had taken part in continuing education in animal nutrition. The cluster analysis identified five different strategies to cope with nutrition consultation, four of which were based on a low priority for nutrition in their own practice. Some vets referred nutrition problems to specialized colleagues (7.2%), others consulted with representatives of pet food companies (28.2%), another group offered free, quick tips (23.4%), and a small percentage ignored nutrition (13.4%). There was one group with a strong interest in nutrition (27.8%). It is remarkable that this group felt the least competent in small-animal nutrition. Conclusion and practical relevance: The study demonstrates that sound nutrition consultation in small-animal practice requires a high degree of specialization. In addition, special coping strategies to obtain a sound nutrition history and a fair payment are necessary. Vets fulfilling these conditions may find a wide field of work.

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