A lot of people want to become a veterinary nutritionist but have no idea where to start. If you have a true love for helping animals, and are very interested in health and nutrition, this could very well be an excellent career fit for you. Veterinary nutritionists have quite a range of roles within their profession. They not only work to evaluate an animal’s body condition, but they can also help design customized diets for animals if they have specific dietary needs for food allergies or illnesses. They can also design diets to simply help an animal achieve an overall healthier lifestyle and more balanced diet.
Veterinary nutritionists oftentimes work alongside with general veterinarian practices to provide special consultations for clients. They are essentially specialists much like a person would see a podiatrist if they had issues with their feet. Nutritionist consultations are for clients who wish for specialized nutritional care for their animals. If all of this sounds like the right fit for you, you may be asking the biggest question of all at this point, how do I get started?
How to Get Started
If you are just starting out with deciding on a career in veterinary nutrition, you must first understand that you do need a Bachelor’s degree in order to go to veterinary school. Veterinary schools will not typically look at an application unless you have received your Bachelor of Science degree. After completing your four-year undergraduate degree, you then have to be accepted into an accredited university to receive your Doctor of Veterinary medicine. These doctorate programs usually take four years to complete as well. After completing your Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, you must become licensed and work in a veterinary practice for a certain amount of time before you can work on getting certified specifically in nutrition.
Once you have completed your Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, gotten certified as a licensed practitioner and completed your required hours, you are then able to proceed with the board certification process to specialize in nutrition.
There is a special exam you have to take in order to become certified specifically in nutrition. Before you are allowed to take this board exam as a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine), you have to have completed the following:
- Completed 3 years of training with an already certified animal nutritionist (1 year of clinical experience and 2 years of residency)
- Written 3 case studies
- Completed the required combination of teaching, research and clinical practice of veterinary nutrition
After these steps are taken, you are then permitted to take the board exam. If you pass the exam that the ACVN (American College of Veterinary Nutrition) administers, you will be given a diploma specializing you as a Doctor of Veterinary Nutrition. In order to keep this accreditation, you have to complete a certain number of continuing education units each year. These educational units can be received by attending various lectures around the country.
Overall, it can take at least ten to twelve years to become a veterinary nutritionist, but many veterinary nutritionists would do it all over again to be where they are today. They absolutely love their careers, and have some truly amazing stories of what they have done with their careers since getting certified in nutrition. Take some time to research some of the top veterinary nutritionists in the country. You will find some amazing stories that show the incredible research they’ve done in regards to helping the animals on our planet today.