What is a Diet Audit?
A diet audit is not the same as a financial audit - so you won't need to find receipts or bank statements.
A diet audit is a detailed evaluation of the calories, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, types of fatty acids (i.e. omega-3 and omega-6), fiber, and ingredients in the food your dog eats. That information is then compared with the nutritional requirements of the individual dog, and asks the question: how well is this particular diet serving this particular dog?
Audits may also consider the dog's age, activity level, current health status and prior health history, home environment, personality, and breed tendencies for certain health conditions.
A diet audit evaluates:
How well is the dog doing on the current diet?
Are all nutrients provided at optimal levels or are there any nutritional gaps or excesses?
Is the diet providing an appropriate amount of calories?
Is the dog able to eat enough of the food in order to take in the correct amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids. No matter how nutritionally complete and balanced the food, if the dog is not eating enough (due to weight concerns, fussiness, illness) then he won't be receiving proper nutrition.
Is the diet appropriate for the age/ health/lifestyle of the dog? Puppies have different nutritional requirements than mature dogs. Seniors benefit from adjusted levels of some vitamins and minerals. Working dogs have different nutrient requirements than typical urban dogs. Is the diet helping to mitigate the side effects of medication (if possible)?
Does the diet provide enough, and a variety, of antioxidants and phytonutrients?
A diet audit is an incredibly useful exercise. Reasons why you should consider an audit are:
To check that the dog's food is meeting all of her nutritional requirements. This is especially important for generic homemade recipes shared on the internet and some dog nutrition books.
For dogs with health concerns, an audit can alert the pet parent to possible nutritional deficiencies or imbalances that could be contributing to their dog's symptoms. While a nutritionist cannot diagnose a health condition in a dog, we look for red flags in the diet. For example, is the dog itchy and biting his paws due to allergies or a food intolerance, or are there incorrect levels or zinc, calcium or a deficiency or imbalance of fatty acids that are contributing to the behaviour?
An audit is a worthwhile proactive step in making sure that the dog's body is well supported from a nutritional standpoint. We know that chronic micronutrient deficiencies impact the immune system, cardiovascular system, the skin, cognition, skeletal system and diseases that affect those systems. Many diseases can be improved or managed through diet.
In some cases, particularly for raw ratio blends that do not include a full nutritional profile, estimations of nutrients may be used, although the results will be less accurate.
Different nutritionists have different processes and it's worth verifying the level of detail that would be included in an audit.