My Personal Experience with Veterinary Nutritionists

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I have spoken with many veterinary nutritionists over the years. In 2010, I spent two days with a nutritionist who teaches at a US veterinary college, as part of an intensive, one-on-one veterinary nutrition course. She indicated to me that nutrition plays a very small role in the management of sick pets compared to that of other veterinary treatments such as drugs and surgery.

She seemed totally unaware of the role of poor nutrition in the development of many chronic diseases. And yet she bemoaned the fact that her students did not place much importance in what she was teaching. Why would they waste their time on an intervention that apparently had such a small effect on pet health?

Her function at the veterinary school, besides teaching, was mostly geared toward formulating weight loss diets for obese animals and special diets for pets with food allergies as well as diagnosing and treating the rare case of nutritional excess or deficiency. When I asked her what she thought about the fact that AFFCO food trails last only 6 months and can include as few as 6 animals, she had to look up the protocol to verify these facts.

One of her mottoes regarding pet food ingredients was, “All things in moderation.” All I could think was, “Really? All things? How about a little cocaine? Only in moderation of course.” The point is that there are some ingredients, such as grain, that do not belong in pet food in any amount. With such views from nutrition experts it is no wonder that many veterinarians have a strange view of what constitutes the components of a healthy pet diet.

I have since spent a couple days with a veterinary nutritionist at another vet school. She truly understood the value of real food for pets and was an outspoken opponent of processed foods. Unfortunately, she has recently retired and the last I heard, Hills was taking over the vet school’s nutrition courses. That’s a great way for the vet school to save some money, don’t you think?

What kind of food does your vet recommended?


2 replies
  1. Jeri
    Jeri says:

    Oh, this is a pet peeve of mine, Dr. Doug. We transitioned to raw a little over 2 years ago, and I have been “lectured” on the dangers a few times since. It’s so aggravating from a patient standpoint. Our mainstream vet doesn’t advocate raw, but he doesn’t lecture me either (think he knows better!), but that hasn’t stopped the occasionally well-meaning substitute/emergency vet from putting in their two worthless cents. Guess I’ve reached the point where I just feel like I need to say something to the effect of: “If my dog came in with an illness caused by aflatoxins in kibble, would you recommend I stop feeding that?” “If our dog were poisoned with salmonella because of eating kibble, would you recommend I no longer feed it?” It’s unbelievable the size of the horse blinders vets feel comfortable putting on as a matter of daily course! Between the diet and the vaccine issue, many of us feel like we are constantly swimming upstream with one hand tied behind our backs. Maybe one day vets in this country will wake up and question the status quo….. In the meantime, my husband and I will probably have to remain vigilant in those areas and continue to field crazy remarks with no basis in reality. Sad.

    • Dr. Doug
      Dr. Doug says:

      Don’t let them get you down. Remember they have been programmed very effectively to think the way they do about nutrition

      Keep letting the vets know what you are feeding and let them evaluate the health of your pet. When enough raw-fed dogs are seen by enough vets the truth has to become obvious.


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