Pet parents looking to feed their dog the right kind of pet food are met with what seems like infinite options. We all want the best for our furry companions. We know that nutrition is essential for their overall health and well-being, but with all the conflicting information out there, it can be difficult to know what to believe. That’s where board-certified veterinary nutritionists (ACVNs or DACVNs) come in.
What does it mean to be a board certified veterinary nutritionist?
According to Tufts University’s Clinical Nutrition Service at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, in order for a veterinarian to become board certified in a specialty, they must complete:
- 4 years of veterinary school
- 1 year internship or equivalent
- 2-3 year residency program
- One or more rigorous examinations
Once all of the above criteria are completed, the veterinarian is board certified, or diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. A board certification from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), for example, recognizes these veterinary professionals as experts in their field, and therefore the most qualified to give guidance in animal nutrition.
Board-certified specialists in nutritional management have a deep understanding of the nutritional needs of pets. They have the unique expertise to advise animal owners on all areas of their pet’s nutrition, including:
- Diet formulation for pets with specific health conditions
- Selecting the best commercial diet for your pet
- Homemade diet plans for pets
- Making informed decisions about supplements and alternative diets
When to see a nutritionist
Not all DVMs have the residency training or clinical experience to determine how to manage certain medical conditions that require specialized dietary needs. In such cases, they will make a referral for pet parents to a veterinary specialist in nutrition.
Veterinary nutritionists play a crucial role in addressing a wide range of nutritional concerns, including:
- weight management
- digestive issues
- supporting specific life stages
- chronic health conditions (ex: kidney disease, liver problems, joint issues, cancer, malnourishment, obesity, etc.)
They will partner with your primary care veterinarian to ensure the nutritional interventions align with overall health management strategies.
BVNs not only provide nutritional consultations but also empower pet parents with knowledge, enabling them to make informed decisions about their pet’s nutrition. They educate pet owners on the importance of label interpretation, dispel common myths, and offer practical tips for navigating the pet food market. This knowledge empowers pet parents to become active participants in their pet’s nutritional journey.
Healthy Pets Start With Healthy Nutrition
In the realm of pet ownership, nutrition stands as a cornerstone of well-being, influencing everything from a pet’s energy levels to their overall health. Just as we prioritize our own dietary choices, ensuring our companion animals receive the right nourishment is paramount to their vitality and longevity. The expertise of board-certified veterinary nutritionists offers a specialized level of guidance that can make a world of difference in a pet’s life.