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Nutrition - Emaciation Protocol
Animals that have been without food require careful examination to determine their level of emaciation. An animal that has been without food for only a day or two may be only slightly emaciated and may be able to digest food after it has been rehydrated. However, animals that have suffered more than minimal weight loss cannot digest food. After they are warmed and rehydrated, small amounts of elemental formula (predigested nutrients and water, e.g. Vital HNŽ, Ross Labs) are given orally, usually by means of a feeding tube. The first feeding may be comprised of 95% Lactated Ringers solution and 5% elemental formula. If the animal responds well, the next feeding may be 90% Lactated Ringers solution and 10% elemental formula, and so on. When the mixture is mostly formula and the animal is tolerating it well, weaning to a more natural diet can begin.
Elemental formulas must be chosen with the animal's natural diet in mind. For example, some animals are intolerant of sucrose (cane or beet sugar, also known as granulated sugar, white sugar) and using a formula that contains sucrose will only make them more ill. Other animals cannot tolerate much dietary fat (e.g. rabbits), and thus some formulas are not suitable for them. Some avian hand feeding products, manufactured for psittacines, have ingredients that are not suitable for insect, meat or fish eaters. For these reasons, it is important to know which formulas work best for different species. Your veterinarian can help you make the best decisions.