Should You Get a Nutritionist for Your Dog?
Good pet owners know that what we feed our animals matters, but should you get a nutritionist for your dog? After all, even if they seem content with their kibble or wet food, it’s not like they can tell you when they’re missing out on essential vitamins and minerals.
Here’s where talking to a professional might help you bridge the interspecies communication gap—and get that tail wagging.
Our Dogs and Their Needs
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, some 38.4 percent of American households have dogs—that’s more than 48 million homes. With at least that many mouths to feed (not even counting households with multiple pets!), it’s no surprise that the pet food industry has its work cut out for it in terms of nutrition.
Unfortunately, dog food makers haven’t always stepped up to the plate. For instance, 2018 saw the FDA issue a headline-grabbing recall for certain canned wet dog foods, potentially contaminated with pentobarbital, a euthanasia drug that can be fatal if ingested by pets. Just a year later, another huge controversy arose when certain types of pig ear chews were linked to salmonella poisoning in dogs across multiple states – and even more worryingly, numerous brands were at issue.
Then there’s the nutrition factor itself: Even if you manage to avoid the recalls and bad product scares, there are still risks:
- Despite pet parents’ best intentions, research has implicated seemingly benign choices (like sticking to some grain-free diets) in doggy health problems such as dilated cardiomyopathy, a potentially fatal heart condition.
- Even though most people know they shouldn’t, humans tend to feed their animals unhealthy junk food. If we start eating healthy, our furry friends should do the same.
- Increasing numbers of veterinarians are coming to question animal nutrition concepts long held to be normal, such as feeding dogs carnivorous menus instead of more balanced omnivorous fare and the widespread use of animal processing byproducts in pet food manufacturing.
- Taking a pet to the hospital can be just as problematic since studies have shown that undernutrition is a relatively common problem in intensive animal care settings.
Should You Get a Nutritionist for Your Dog?
Given these facts, it’s only natural to wonder whether talking to a veterinary nutritionist might be the safest way to give your furry pal a good life. Here are some things to think about:
Each dog Is unique and deserves unique attention
Don’t assume there’s some miraculous, balanced diet that works for every pet. Your dog’s health reflects numerous factors, from its body’s immune function to what kinds of snacks you’ve been feeding it when you think nobody’s looking.
According to the VCA, you need to pay close attention to your dog’s particular visual appearance and other qualities to discern whether they’ve got issues. For instance, your pet’s diet can have a huge effect on its skin, coat, and general health.
Nutrition should generally be considered a factor if changes in your dog’s appearance arise. For instance, while allergies or bacterial infections could be the issue, things like food intolerance might also play a role.
Is there such a thing as a dog nutritionist?
Fortunately, the answer to this one is a resounding yes!
Animal nutrition experts conduct important scientific research about animal health as a whole, not to mention provide individual guidance and advice. To practice, they typically require an undergraduate 4-year degree in a domain like biological science, agricultural science, or animal science.
Like the highly-vetted certified nutritionists who work in the human realm, many animal nutrition specialists even obtain post-grad education in the field.
What can a dog nutritionist do to help my pet?
First and foremost, dog nutritionists can assess your pet’s needs directly. By recommending a nutritional plan tailored specifically to your animal, they can keep you better informed on how to make the most of food’s preventative and curative effects.
Dog nutritionists can equip pet parents with helpful information like:
- Which food types, ingredients, or brands might be most beneficial for individual animals
- How much dogs should eat based on their size, age, and activity level
- How to feed dogs properly when they suffer from issues like diabetes, which can make it hard to maintain a healthy weight
- Whether dogs ought to receive supplements in addition to their normal food to meet specific health goals
- How to make healthier foods appealing to pickier dogs so they won’t turn their noses up at their dishes
Does my dog need to see a nutritionist?
Although some dog health issues exhibit telltale signs, it’s not always clear whether diet might be a factor in your pet’s health. Getting informed is usually the safest. In other words, if you have worries, don’t wait to talk with your veterinarian.
Why ask for help? Chatting with your vet is the first step because they’ll be able to recommend an animal nutritionist who can provide tailored advice suited to your pet—and your budget. In some cases, vets are also nutritionists, so you might not even have to make a second appointment!
Finding the best nutritionist near you is an invaluable resource when it comes to keeping your furry friend in optimal health! If you’re concerned your pup might not be getting the best possible diet, chat with their veterinarian about whether it might be time to consult an animal nutritionist. Anything worth doing is worth taking seriously, so keeping your beloved pets healthy and happy should get top billing on your priorities checklist—but why stop at poochy?