Located just off one of the busiest hallways in the WCVM Veterinary Medical Centre (VMC), the new room is stocked with a selection of dry and canned pet foods for veterinary therapeutic diets that are produced by various pet food companies.
Besides food, the new centre is also equipped with the tools and resources needed for making meals that are delivered through feeding tubes as well as preparing home-cooked chicken, rice and other alternatives for some of the hospital’s patients that require special diets.
WCVM assistant professor Dr. Tammy Owens teaches nutrition to third- and fourth-year veterinary students. Before the feeding centre was built, Owens said the VMC’s pet food stores were “spread throughout the hospital,” which meant clinical teams had limited options for developing appropriate diets for their patients.
It was also difficult for students to become more familiar with the different therapeutic diets available.
“This way, it’s now easy for students to compare the products and to easily see the key differences between different diets,” said Owens, a board-certified specialist in clinical nutrition. “Hopefully students can use the knowledge that they’ll get in my third-year elective and fourth-year clinical rotation to more easily apply the knowledge in picking the best diet for their patients.”
The centre’s creation was made possible by Nestlé Purina, a long-time supporter of the regional veterinary college. The global pet nutrition company donated a significant amount toward the construction of the inpatient feeding centre that was built in one of the teaching hospital’s former examination rooms.
“It will really elevate our ability to feed our patients in the hospital — plus it supports our work in teaching veterinary students about clinical nutrition,” said Dr. Steve Manning, associate dean of clinical programs at the WCVM.
He thanked the company for its support during a lunch-hour presentation — one of several events planned on Nov. 30 to celebrate the feeding facility’s opening. During the day, three of the company’s representatives met with WCVM students, faculty and staff during morning rounds, a ribbon cutting and the noon-hour presentation.
The Nestlé Purina visitors included Lise Roussel, national development manager for veterinary business; senior veterinary communication manager Dr. Paige Golden; and Dr. Helen Newton, veterinary communication manager for Western Canada.
“On behalf of Nestlé Purina, I would like to thank WCVM for allowing us to be involved in these activities that benefit the students as well as the community,” said Newton, who is also a 2008 graduate of the veterinary college.
In addition to its contribution to the feeding centre’s creation, Nestlé Purina has supported the college’s service learning program in northern Saskatchewan. Dr. Jordan Woodsworth, one of the WCVM’s wellness veterinarians, and other college representatives work with northern communities and groups to organize two remote spay-neuter and wellness clinics in La Ronge, Sask., each year.
“Because we believe that people and pets are better together, our primary focus is centred around the well-being of pets and the people who love them,” said Golden, adding that Nestlé Purina is passionate about pets and committed to serving the needs of communities.
“We felt that the work WCVM does — from the in-hospital patient care to the college’s work with northern communities — completely embodies everything we are passionate about. We are so excited and humbled to be a part of these amazing programs.”
Nestlé Purina’s generous support has helped “ensure that Dr. Woodsworth and her huge team of students, volunteer clinicians and RVTs [registered veterinary technologists] and local volunteers are able to provide veterinary services to La Ronge and surrounding areas,” said Manning.
“It’s just a great experience for our students and for the college as a whole.”Manning added that the feeding centre is aptly located directly across the hallway from the teaching hospital’s Nestlé Purina Dental Suite — another invaluable gift from the company.