Almost every pet owner, particularly if they are new to pet ownership will ask their veterinarian for a pet food recommendation. The answer is almost always something the veterinarian sells in their facility, and most vets do not carry a wide variety of products. This begs the question, how much nutritional training does a veterinarian receive?
A person chooses to become a veterinary nurse practitioner because they want to help both pets and the people who care for them. If after working in the animal healthcare industry one decides to take their career further the next step would be to become a veterinary physician, more commonly known as a veterinarian. After obtaining an undergraduate degree it takes approximately four years to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, or V.M.D.
In researching the standard curriculum offered at most veterinary schools, nutrition does not appear to be a component of the required courses. It’s interesting to think that a person who can diagnose and treat a disease in an animal may not know that same animals nutritional needs, but it appears that may be the case. It’s also somewhat disturbing that most veterinary offices will offer only one brand of food, clearly indicating a preference. It can lead one to wonder what type of relationship the food manufacturer has with the veterinary office.
My own experience includes my cat being diagnosed with unspecified kidney issues. She was prescribed a particular brand of food that can only be purchased at a veterinarian’s office, at considerable cost. Obviously I am concerned with the well being of my pets, so I purchased the food and continued to do so for years.
At one point we moved to a different state; in order to purchase more of her special cat food I was told that I would need to bring her in for a checkup, even after she had just went through one a few months prior. That really made me mad; why should I incur an office visit when I just needed food? That in turn caused me to start doing some research where I discovered that the food she had been eating was not meant to be a long term solution. After further research I found a natural food formulated for mature cats, and slowly started to switch her diet staying alert for any adverse reactions. She has been on her “new” food for three years now and is doing just fine.
While most advice from a veterinarian is truly valuable, take it upon yourself to do some research about whatever ails your pet. There are many books available which can help a pet owner to determine if the symptoms their pet is exhibiting are normal or should be a cause for concern. There are also many varieties of pet food available other than the big-name brands such as kosher food, all-natural foods, grain-free foods, and foods that are made with specific dietary needs in mind.