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4 tips to get the most from Test & Treat


Proper nutrition is the foundation of long-term pet health. Unfortunately, most commercial pet foods do not provide adequate vitamin levels for some of the most important essential vitamins. While this is problematic, correction is easy with a simple Test & Treat strategy through VDI. Identify and correct nutritional deficiencies to improve health.

Tip 1: Allow for equilibrium

Many essential vitamins (e.g. Vitamin D) take time to reach an equilibrium in the body. These nutrients need to be absorbed, metabolized, transported and stored by the body. All this takes time to get into the perfect balance the body likes: homeostasis aka equilibrium.

Ensuring the dog or cat is in equilibrium before testing is important to allow for proper dose recommendations. If the body is still adjusting when a sample is taken, our recommendations may be under or over what is actually required when the patient is in equilibrium and may result in the need for further testing and adjustment.

Other things may affect equilibrium between tests as well. Things like new medications, new diseases, changes to diet, or changes to lifestyle may all alter if the patient is in stasis.

VDI provides retest windows on the lab report to indicate the earliest retest period assuming supplementation starts immediately.

Tip 2: Change the diet, THEN test & treat

Many times the veterinarian is going to recommend changing a diet to something better suited for the pet. Either for specific health reasons, weight loss, nutrient improvement, food intolerance, or other reasons. Since diet is the primary source of vitamins and nutrients, and provides the bulk of the levels, changes in diet should happen BEFORE the testing is done for supplementation.

  • If a diet change is implemented, the pet should be allowed to reach equilibrium (see tip 1) before the test is taken to ensure proper recommendations.
  • If a patient is already supplementing and diet is changed, then equilibrium should be reached prior to re-testing vitamin levels and adjusting supplementation.

Special note:

Sometimes nutrient levels are low across a number of vitamins and minerals. In these cases, VDI typically recommends evaluating diet and health before starting supplementation. Supplementation should always be a “final touch” to reach sufficient levels, and a quality diet should always aim to provide as much of the nutrients as possible.

Tip 3: Account for changes in health and medication

Many health conditions will impact vitamin levels in the body. They may impair absorption, alter metabolism, increase usage, or interfere with elimination. Because of this, patients who may be in equilibrium (on or off supplementation) that develop significant health conditions like gastrointestinal disease, may require additional testing and supplementation. Alternatively, ongoing testing may help identify the presence of a condition that may not be clinically visual yet.

Just as health conditions will have an impact, the medications that are used to treat a wide range of disease also impact nutrient levels. One of the biggest offenders is corticosteroids (prednisolone/prednisone). Patients that are starting pred or weening off pred, may require additional testing to adjust supplementation according.

Interesting fact:

Vitamin D sufficiency has been shown to have a steroid-sparring effect. This means that with Vitamin D sufficiency, there is potential to use less steroids to achieve the same outcomes, thus reducing the negative side effects of steroids use.

Tip 4: Providing accurate dose information when testing

VDI’s algorithms for dose recommendations are patient specific and take into account the pet’s demographics and current supplementation. When submitting samples for testing, it’s always recommended to accurately and completely fill in the requisition form to make sure we are providing the most precise dosing guidelines that we can.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to count up all the vitamins that are added to your pet’s food and treats. Most of the time these additives are so insignificant to the total blood levels they don’t impact the results. As long as treats and diet are stable for a while and are not changing any time soon (see tip 2), then we classify that as the pet’s “diet,” and we adjust based off of that.

Special Note:

Some patients may respond differently to supplements. While the majority of pets on most products, will see the proper increase to or towards sufficiency, occasionally a pet will be non-responsive or see values drop initially. Contact VDI for guidance in these cases if needed, but many times it’s just a unique response by that patient’s biology.

Bonus Tip: Understand the products

Ensuring proper supplementation requires understanding the products and how to administer them. VDI integrates a range of supplements into the Test & Treat reports for simplicity. Make sure you understand the product type, how to administer, the concentration of the product, and when. If you’re uncertain contact VDI or the product manufacturer.

Things to know:

  • Concentration: Some products, like Rx Vitamin D3, have two concentrations. Ensure you identify the correct product and dose. For example, 5 drops of Regular RxD3 provided 500 IU of D3, whereas 5 drops of RxD3 forte provides 2500 IU (5 times as much)
  • DROP: what is a drop? A drop is a literal droplet of supplement from the tip of the dropper. It is not a dropper full – but a very tiny amount. If a report indicates 2 drops, then you administer two droplets slowly to prevent overapplying.
  • With food or not with food: Most supplements VDI recommends can be added to the pet’s food for simplicity. They can be split between meals or given all at once. Just be sure to read the manufacturers instructions.