Veterinary Nutritionists are More Accessible Than You Think

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2016-12-29T15:43:08-05:00Updated: March 6th, 2014|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Diet & Nutrition, Pet Newsletter|0 Comments

Whenever I mention diets and diabetic pets I get a flood of emails from our readers. Duh! We’ve all been told we are what we eat. Sometimes I think it is easier for us to make wiser nutrition choices for ourselves than for our pets. It’s not rocket science that spinach is a healthier micro-nutrient choice than a buttery pastry, but when choosing a brand of pet food, you don’t necessarily see what goes into it.

When choosing pet food we are influenced by television ads and what products our local stores carry. And then there is the price! The brands that advertise heavily have to pay for it somewhere! I’m no nutritionist, but I am very careful about what I eat and what I feed my pets. Heck, I have fruit trees and almost always have a garden of tomatoes and kale here in south Florida. One friend teases me that I’m a “hippy”. Even with my attention to my diet I still take a multivitamin a couple times per week.

Now what about our pets? There are so many pet food brands available it can boggle the mind! I love that there are foods that use few or natural preservatives, but I suggest buying small bags. Buying a fifty gallon drum of chow means it will likely go stale by the time you reach the end of it, especially if you have a small pet! For the millions of dollars spent in this country on cheese curls and processed sandwich cookies, I ponder the disproportionate amount of clients who swoon when they see the word “preservative” on a bag of pet food. I also like the idea of organic sources, but know that it comes with a price tag. Even so, there are lots of great brands.

I lack culinary skills in a big way and don’t have the drive nor time to make my pets’ food. Instead, I feed my pets premium pet food, the same brand I carry in my veterinary clinic for prescription diets. Nonetheless, many people love to cook and wish to make their pet’s food. I’m not talking about feeding your pet commercial food and then sliding it gobs of snacks under the table! I’m talking about balanced homemade recipes with appropriate vitamins and minerals.

If you are interested in making your pet’s food or if you have a pet with one or more health issues, you might wish to consult a veterinary nutritionist. University veterinary teaching hospitals will have a veterinary nutritionist on staff to reach their veterinary students. If you live in or near a state with a vet school, you can consult these specialists in person. You can also access a list of veterinary nutritionists by going to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition website ( to access a list of credentialed diplomats by state. These specialists go through a residency for several years after becoming a veterinarian just as specialty surgeons or internists go through specialized post-grad training.

I applaud those who cook for their pets, but it is very important to utilize recipes and mineral supplements to ensure the diets are balanced for the long-term health of the pets.

I enjoy interacting with our readers. Feel free to contact me at [email protected].

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn

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