All graduates of US veterinary schools, no matter when they graduated have nutrition integrated into their curriculum, as a required course or sprinkled into other aspects of coursework. Also, some nutrition knowledge is required to pass final veterinary licensing exams in the United States (Read more on that here). However, vets are not required to have robust nutrition knowledge in order to practice veterinary medicine.
Additionally, vet schools are funded by kibble companies, which makes an unbiased education very difficult, if not impossible. Check out the Pet Food Program from UC Davis, which allows members, residents, faculty and students receive pet food from brands like Hill and Royal Canin at heavily discounted prices. Purina also funded the Nutrition Centers at Tufts University Foster Hospital for Small Animals, Michigan State University, Colorado State University (Read more on that here).
As Dr. Karen Becker puts it:
“One of the interesting things that’s different between veterinary medicine and between human medicine (a lot of people don’t realize this) is that with human medicine, of course, there’s Big Pharma that’s funding millions, billions of dollars into research to promote a certain product. But in veterinary medicine, we’ve got major dog food companies and major pharmaceutical and vaccine companies that are funding research" (Read more on that here).
With the major influence and presence of kibble companies at vet schools coupled with the little nutrition education required, is your vet really qualified to dole out nutrition advice?
So, what can you do?
- Do your own research
- Feed raw or home-cook
- Ask lots of questions
- Advocate for your animal
Check out the video below from Dr. Becker on the best and worst pet foods