How to Become a Canine Nutritionist


Canine nutritionists, also known as animal or vet nutritionists, are qualified to handle individual dogs' medical and nutritional needs. They determine adequate home-prepared diets or formulate commercial foods and supplements, according to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, or ACVN. Canine nutritionists may focus on research, handle patient care or consult with veterinarians. They work for pet food and drug companies, veterinary schools, private vet hospitals or government agencies. Some run their own businesses.

Preparation and Paths

  • The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences urges students interested in veterinary nutrition to take extra or advanced courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics throughout high school. It urges students to get involved in related activities, such as joining pre-vet clubs or volunteering at an animal shelter. In college, enroll in an undergraduate program that emphasizes physical and biological sciences. After your undergrad work is done, apply to veterinary schools and prepare for interviews.

Graduation and Residency

  • Obtain a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, which requires four years of study beyond your undergraduate degree. While working on your degree or immediately after earning one, you'll need to gain at least one year of experience by interning or working in a clinical setting. Residency training, which involves two years of teaching, researching, and studying basic and clinical nutrition, is the next phase.

Licensing and Reporting

  • Candidates are eligible to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination, issued by the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, once they hold a doctor of veterinary medicine degree. The license is required to offer veterinary services, as well as to obtain board certification in a specialty such as nutrition. You'll have 7.5 hours to complete the computerized exam, which consists of 300 graded multiple-choice questions and 60 unscored pre-test items.

Certification and Compensation

  • To get certified by the board, you must hold a DVM in veterinary medical education, and prepare, write and submit three case reports related to animal nutrition. ACVN notes that the board certification written examination is issued over the course of two days and is offered once every year. CareerBuilder recognizes canine nutritionists under the broader category of animal nutritionists, who earned an average income of $66,847 per year, as of July 2014.

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