The other day I wandered into a local pet store in search of fish supplies for my daugther’s new betta fish. I’m not really a fish person and so it took me a few minutes to decide on what I needed. During my prolonged search, I happened to overhear the salesperson tell a customer that “veterinarians aren’t really taught about nutrition in vet school”. I placed whatever item I had been about to purchase back on the shelf and walked out the door. While I had heard about pet store employees telling people that veterinarians aren’t taught nutrition or that they only receive one semester’s worth in vet school, I had never encountered it first hand. After the initial shock and horror wore off, I decided that it was time to set the record straight.
Let’s start with the beginning and a veterinarian’s foundation in nutrition (just in case there are any of you out there who still believe we “only get one semester of nutrition in vet school”). I am a 2006 Tufts graduate and was lucky enough to first learn about nutrition from the fabulous Dr. Lisa Freeman. Nutrition for us wasn’t just one class or one semester, it was interwoven throughout our entire veterinary education. We were taught about which diseases were nutritionally linked and about the complex role nutrition plays to both treat and prevent disease. We were also taught how to evaluate diets, how to read a food label, how to identify which diets had undergone testing, how to ask the right questions to determine if a diet was produced by qualified nutritionists, and the significance of a complete guaranteed analysis. We were taught how to truly evaluate an ingredient list (it’s not as straight forward as you’d think) and how to formulate diets on a fundamental level. In short, we were taught a heck of a lot about nutrition!
Our education doesn’t stop after graduation and there are several ways that we can gain information about new diseases and discoveries. We are all obligated to complete continuing education hours in order to maintain our veterinary licenses. These courses are generally taught by board-certified specialists and frequently cover new and timely topics in veterinary medicine. We also read journal articles, follow informational blogs that are maintained by experts in the field, such as Tufts Petfoodology, consult with specialists, and connect with one another through Facebook, or other social media platforms, to “talk shop” and stay abreast of what’s happening within our profession.
What this essentially boils down to is that we know what we’re talking about! When we make a food recommendation, it’s based on years of experience and training in nutrition. We care about your pets and our primary goal is to ensure their health and happiness. If you have questions, please ask us. We’re here to help and we do have the necessary expertise to guide you.