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Clin Tech Small Anim Pract. 2004 Feb;19(1):1-5.

Nutritional requirements of the critically ill patient.

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Department of Clinical Sciences, Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.


The presence or development of malnutrition during critical illness has been unequivocally associated with increased morbidity and mortality in people. Recognition that malnutrition may similarly affect veterinary patients emphasizes the need to properly address the nutritional requirements of hospitalized dogs and cats. Because of a lack in veterinary studies evaluating the nutritional requirements of critically ill small animals, current recommendations for nutritional support of veterinary patients are based largely on sound clinical judgment and the best information available, including data from experimental animal models and human studies. This, however, should not discourage the veterinary practitioner from implementing nutritional support in critically ill patients. Similar to many supportive measures of critically ill patients, nutritional interventions can have a significant impact on patient morbidity and may even improve survival. The first step of nutritional support is to identify patients most likely to benefit from nutritional intervention. Careful assessment of the patient and appraisal of its nutritional needs provide the basis for a nutritional plan, which includes choosing the optimal route of nutritional support, determining the number of calories to provide, and determining the composition of the diet. Ultimately, the success of the nutritional management of critically ill dogs and cats will depend on close monitoring and frequent reassessment.

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