WesternU and Purina representatives celebrate the Nestlé Purina Nutrition Center during a dedication at the WesternU Pet Health Center Tuesday, August 7, 2018. From left, Nestlé Purina Veterinary Communications Manager Dr. Avi Shaprut, Nestlé Purina Director, Professional Resources Group Dr. Emily Cross, CVM Dean Phillip Nelson, DVM, PhD, and PHC Hospital Director David Clark, DVM, DABVP. (Jeff Malet, WesternU)

The Western University of Health Sciences Pet Health Center received more than $32,000 from Nestlé Purina PetCare to renovate and upgrade what is now the Purina Nutrition Center, which will benefit clients and veterinary students on rotation. 

“In recent times there’s been an awareness of the growing importance of nutrition in veterinary medicine,” said Emily Cross, DVM, DABVP, Director, Professional Resources Group, Nestle Purina PetCare. “We have realized as a profession that it’s vital to train the next generation of veterinarians to have a solid grounding in nutrition. That starts with the right teachers and the right facilities. Purina has worked hard to support this effort through donations and partnerships with veterinary universities. The goal is to install state-of-the-art nutrition centers so students can learn and practice with nutrition as part of every patient’s case management.” 

The nutrition center features new cabinets, a stainless steel double sink and countertop, 16 dry food dispensers and 25 canned food dispensers. The remodeled center allowed the Pet Health Center (PHC) to consolidate supplies and highlight nutrition. 

“Food was in different places, but now it’s clearly marked and everything is clearly organized,” said WesternU Pet Health Center Hospital Manager Jennie Jennings. “We don’t have as much waste now as we did before. It looks beautiful.” 

Purina has sponsored 20 similar nutrition centers across the country, Cross said. 

“Universally we’ve had a great amount of feedback from students and faculty at other schools. There is a different level of awareness of nutrition when it is easy to access and well displayed versus just hidden in some cupboards and cabinets, which is how some facilities were before we were able to come in and help remodel,” she said. 

The nutrition center will stock Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets as well as Pro Plan well-pet products and diets from other companies. 

“In general there’s a trend for a more personalized nutritional approach, not ‘one size fits all’ for every case. Purina Nutrition Centers aim to provide easy access to a variety of dietary approaches. This helps ensure students and faculty have the right diet for that individual pet that may be dealing with two, three or four medical conditions,” Cross said. “We want students to have the selection they need in order to best manage their particular case.” 

It’s all about providing variety and choice to clients, said College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Phillip Nelson, DVM, PhD. 

“Nutrition is an important part of preventative health, and we think it’s important to provide as much exposure as possible to the students,” he said to a small gathering of students and PHC staff. “You are lucky you have a kitchen you can play with that will expand the variety of dog foods we can offer our clients and that you can learn about and get experience in before you graduate. 

“To Purina, we thank you for giving us this opportunity,” Nelson added. “This will be an enhancement to our curriculum and we appreciate you as partners.”