Table of Contents
- What Is a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist?
- Educational Requirements to Become a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
- Career Options for a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
- How Can a Veterinary Nutritionist Help Your Dog?
- When You Need the Help of a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
- Becoming a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist the Facts and Myths
A board-certified veterinary nutritionist is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine that specializes in the area of animal nutrition.
Some veterinary nutritionists find employment as nutritional analysts in private pet food companies, pharmaceuticals, and public zoos.
At the same time, others provide lecture services in veterinary colleges.
What Is a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist?
Board-certified veterinary nutritionists undergo training in nutritional management for both healthy and sick animals.
These nutritionists qualify to formulate commercial foods and supplements, formulate homemade diets, and manage each animal's complex medical and nutritional needs.
The training of nutritionists involves intensive clinical, teaching, and research activities for at least two years.
They also need to pass a written examination to obtain board certification.
Educational Requirements to Become a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
The first step to becoming a board-certified veterinary nutritionist is to earn a bachelor's degree at an accredited college or university.
The introductory course study focuses on general nutrition, mathematics, communications, and biological sciences, e.g., biology, chemistry, physics, and physiology.
By doing volunteer work or interning, the student will have a different experience that will improve his resume and possess hands-on knowledge that he can apply later in his studies.
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
After the bachelor's degree, becoming a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is the next step.
This course will have a 4-year program, in which the first two years are for general animal virology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition.
During the 3rd and 4th years, students will move into clinical applications, where Veterinary students have the opportunity to increase their knowledge and practice in a clinical setting.
After the education process is complete, the students will take the licensure exam. They must pass this exam to be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM).
Most states will require additional certification to practice in each state.
Veterinary Nutritionist Degree Program
Once the person is already a licensed DVM, he will begin focusing on residency training. After that, he can now have a board certification that specializes in nutrition!
But before getting the board certification, here are the three requirements needed:
- Must have a complete residency training
- Must complete and publish a medical journal
- Pass the comprehensive examination, which includes oral, written, and practical exams. The American College of Veterinary Nutrition administers this test.
Once the person fulfills all the requirements and passes the exam, he will then have diplomate status in the specialty of Veterinary Nutrition.
Career Options for a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
After receiving the board certification, the new veterinarian nutritionist can choose in these three animal sections for specialization:
- Large animal nutrition
- Small animal nutrition
- Equine animal nutrition
Other career options may include working in private veterinary clinics or hospitals, employment with animal feed or supplements manufacturers, zoos, educational research facilities, or academia.
Salary for a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a veterinary nutritionist can earn up to $200,000 annually.
But this salary is for vets incorporate companies, ranging from pharmaceutical to animal feed and supplement manufacturers.
Those board-certified vet nutritionists who choose to work in the private sector have lower salaries than those in the corporate world.
For aspiring board-certified veterinary nutritionists, you can earn an average salary between $25,000 to $35,000 per year during residency training.
How Can a Veterinary Nutritionist Help Your Dog?
A veterinary nutritionist can help your dog by providing the following services:
- Initial consultation
- Assist in the selection of diets, treats, and supplements
- Homemade meal formulation
- Personalized weight loss program
- Nutritional plans for the hospitalized animals
When You Need the Help of a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist
- You want recommendations for commercial food or have the current pet food checked.
- You have a pet that is struggling with a chronic health condition.
- Your dog has been prescribed a diet for his specific condition but refuses to take it.
- Your pet has low energy and won't get excited even with new food.
- As a pet owner, you are interested in homemade pet food. You want to have suggestions on how to do it properly.
- Your pet is not at its ideal weight, either obese or malnourished.
- You own a working dog that you want to maximize his full potential.
- Your pet is already aging and losing muscle mass.
Becoming a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist the Facts and Myths
FACT – There is no legal requirement that one must have a veterinary degree to formulate a pet food
All pet food sold in the USA should meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
A person with an advanced degree in animal nutrition is equally or more knowledgeable about nutrition than a veterinarian. They are the ones that formulate pet food that meets the requirements of AAFCO.
MYTH – Only board-certified veterinary nutritionist qualifies to formulate pet food
This myth responded to a press release issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing an investigation into alleged links between dog foods and canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Every major news network covers this story, thus, continuing other statements that became part of the pet mythology.
FACT – Formulating a pet food requires knowledge
Making food for your dog is not as simple as buying ingredients and putting them together in a bowl.
As pet owners, you need to consider your pet's nutritional needs.
Once you already know what your pet needs, you can now find fresh ingredients and prepare a healthier meal than commercial food.