One of the UK’s most renowned small animal hospitals is building on its industry-leading clinical nutrition offering with the launch of a specialist-led parenteral nutrition service.
Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service in Solihull, West Midlands, has marked the one-year anniversary of its specialist clinical nutrition service with the launch of the additional treatment, making the centre one of the very few in the UK to offer such a comprehensive nutritional service.
Isuru Gajanayake, a board-certified specialist in veterinary nutrition, is leading the parenteral nutrition service at Willows, which is part of Linnaeus, which sees intravenous feeding carried out for patients who may not be able to take on nutrition in other ways.
He said: “Since launching our clinical nutrition service last year, we have seen a number of cases in which patients have been either dehydrated or malnourished, sometimes both.
“Working alongside our other services in a truly multidisciplinary approach, we have been able to offer suitable treatment to support a significant number of dogs and cats.
“With the launch of the parenteral nutrition service, we can now expand this offering and, in doing so, become one of only a very few referral centres across the UK to provide this as a specialist service.
“Put simply, parenteral nutrition is a very useful technique to provide nutrition to patients when they are not eating or cannot be fed using a feeding tube.
“Examples include patients with severe vomiting, very low blood protein levels and those who have undergone major surgery. It gives life-saving calories and nutrients to patients when there are no other ways to do this.
“Patients who are given parenteral nutrition will be hospitalised in our advanced intensive care unit to ensure they can be monitored closely by our specialist emergency and critical care (ECC) team, who provide exceptional expertise in critical care and treatment for every patient when they need it most.
“It is typically administered via a catheter in the neck (like any other fluid or medication drips) and patients do not need to be sedated to give parenteral nutrition.”
Isuru added that the benefits of a specialist service ensure nutrition and hydration are taken into account as part of the multidisciplinary approach to patient care at Willows.
He said: “At Willows, we are frequently faced with patients who are suffering from serious illnesses such as infections or cancer, where the underlying condition becomes the sole focus. As a specialist in clinical nutrition, I work as closely as possible with our team of multidisciplinary specialist vets and nurses to ensure we also take nutrition into account.”
“As with people, animals who are malnourished are more likely to suffer complications if they are ill or injured, which will mean continued treatment, increased risk of complications and longer stays in hospital.
“For both pet owners and vets, the key thing is for every one of us to be far more mindful of this.”