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What is a Veterinary Nutritionist?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017
By Dan Massey


Your pet is one-of-a-kind and has their own distinct, individual nutritional needs. Because of their unique systems, it's easy to see why one diet cannot suit every pet. While pet parents want to feed the best for their dog or cat, there are complexities behind pet nutrition that might be hard to account for — That's where vet nutritionists can help.

Veterinary nutritionists are the experts who understand the complexities of pet nutrition and how each pet's nutritional needs can best be met. Here are the most important facts every pet parent should know about who veterinary nutritionists are, and why your pet should be looking to experts like them for dietary guidance. 

How a vet nutritionist differs from a veterinarian

Veterinary nutritionists are first and foremost, veterinarians. They have all the same training and credentials of a regular vet. Their knowledge base extends further, though, to include detailed expertise on all things related to your pets’ dietary needs.

A veterinary nutritionist has an additional certification that makes them qualified to give nutritional advice. Regular vets spend a nominal amount of their training covering nutrition, but a veterinary nutritionist makes it the key specialization of their medical career.

In addition to the training general veterinarians complete, vet nutritionists must additionally complete one year of clinical experience or internship, followed by two more years of training and residency study, including research and teaching. Finally, veterinary nutritionists must pass a two-day written board exam. So it’s no wonder they’re rare (there are less than 100 veterinary nutritionists in the country), but it’s also no surprise why vet nutritionists really do know more about your dog’s nutritional needs than anyone else.

Why your dog should eat food formulated by a vet nutritionist

Because of their extensive training, veterinary nutritionists are undoubtedly the most qualified people on the planet when it comes to formulating a diet for your dog. And though, for years, a veterinarian-formulated diet was the thing to look for when shopping for a pet food, it’s clear that the person who should be designing your pet’s diet is an expert in nutrition. Also known as: a veterinary nutritionist.

Which dog foods are formulated by a veterinary nutritionist?

Not all dog foods are created equal, and that’s likely something we can all agree on. Whenever choosing a pet food, it’s important to do your research. Not only do you need to know what’s in your dog’s food (and what isn’t!), but you should know enough about who is behind the food before feeding it to your best friend.

When looking for a dog food that is formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, research the company making your dog’s food, and find out who has formulated the recipes. Make sure that a veterinary nutritionist is the one formulating all recipes, so you know your dog will be receiving an optimal diet. Traditionally, you’ll only find veterinary nutritionists standing behind fresh dog foods (such as NomNomNow), and a select few of higher-end dry foods.

You can also have a veterinary nutritionist formulate a food specifically for your dog, but this can be quite costly (typically costing about $500 per recipe), and will require that you prepare the food yourself, by following the veterinary nutritionist’s recipe.

But what if my vet already suggested a certain diet?

Many veterinarians are happy to answer diet-related questions regarding their patients. And while they have a basic foundation for nutrition, many vets simply don’t have the educational background to speak authoritatively when it comes to what your dog should be eating. What’s more, some vets are paid by large pet food manufacturers to promote certain brands. 

It’s important to let your Veterinarian know what your dog is eating, and certainly worthwhile getting their feedback, though research on finding a diet for your dog should expand far beyond their scope. Take their recommendations, and do your own research as well. Even better, schedule an appointment with a veterinary nutritionist and get their suggestions and input on the best diet for your dog.

Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Shmalberg

Here at Nom Nom, we believe every dog deserves to live a healthier, happier, and longer life, and of course diet is an important part of that. Our goal is to make a healthy, veterinary nutritionist-formulated diet accessible to all pet parents, so that every dog can eat the healthiest food possible.

Dr. Justin Shmalberg, DVM is one of the less than 100 veterinary nutritionists in the USA, and has been formulating fresh pet diets for more than 15 years. He is the brains behind all of the recipes here at NomNomNow, and has made it possible for us to prepare fresh, individually-portioned meals as part of a customized meal plan for your dog (while also making it more affordable that a traditional veterinary nutritionist-formulated recipe would be). Learn more about his take on pet nutrition, various dog food diets, and more in these short videos.

When choosing a diet for our dogs, we believe in feeding only the best, formulated by the best.

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