Veterinary Nutrition Specialists

Help needed please:

We know from our thread here and from discussing the matter on our Facebook page that all too often owners are not sure that their veterinary surgeon will give good and impartial advice on nutrition. Because of this, and due to the number of posts that we get regarding special diets for ill dogs, we are looking to compile a list of veterinary surgeons who have specialized, and/or have a particular interest in nutrition for cats and dogs.

In the case of illnesses such as renal or liver disease dietary control may fall under the remit of a veterinary surgeon who specializes in that particular disorder. However, very often owners do not actually get as far as referral and their pet’s illness is managed by their own veterinary surgeon.

We know that individual, reputable food companies have customer service departments with staff who have some expertise in special diets and this can be very helpful to pet owners. However, in this instance we feel that what is required is a list of vets who have an interest in this subejct and if we can compile such a list it will be a useful resource for our members. If you know of anyone and can recommend them (with their permission of course), please could you add their details to this thread?

Thank you


It’s sad to see that vets with a specialisation or even an active interest in nutrition are so scarce. For me diet is the central pillar of health and only when it is at fault do most health problems occur. In an ideal world, all vets would be nutritionists first and medical practitioners second. Of course, in that world there would be much less need for vets in the first place…


I was quite surprised to see that Lynne with her highly allergic dog was advised to come to this site for advice ,by her vet. A great endorsement but it does seem to indicate that a good knowledge of nutrition is often hit and miss with vets.


David recently posted this question on Facebook:

A quick question. Now that I no longer provide individual nutritional consultations, I'm often asked if I can recommend any other independent nutritionists that do and I sadly always draw a blank. I know that we're a rare breed but am I really on my own? Anyone?
There was just one reply that included a link and this is [url=]**Weeth Nutrition Services**[/url]. On the website there is an address in the USA and one here in Edinburgh. It states that Dr Weeth is currently in the latter location. Their Facebook page is [url=]**here**[/url]. It is worth a visit - there seems to be lots of information on it.

Animal nutritionists not aligned to pet food companies are rare to find as that is what pays the wages. Many vets are ‘sponsored’ by big brands who train a nurse to know about feeds so they can supply that brand and make money for the vets. A vet can advise as to the condition and what type of food should be fed then the customer can decide. Problem is may dog owners believe they are an expert and most get it wrong.

1 Like

Yes, most nutritionists are trained, and aligned to companies and therefore adhere to their philosophy. It can be difficult for the pet owner to get unbiased advice. On the subject of veterinary surgeons, I don’t know that they get nutrition advice wrong - maybe some have an interest in it and do a good job in the advice they give. However, in some cases it would be useful for the pet owner to ask the vet what qualities they should be looking for in a product, then they can do their own research.

I agree it’s a shame there isn’t a recognised nutritional qualification for dog foods but could this be because if a dog food is labelled ‘complete’ then it meets the overall needs of a dog - therefore all foods are the same? (no they’re not but legally they are).
Perhaps it is more useful for someone to be aware of different foods/brands/types and be able to offer opinions on these. I again advocate a good local pet shop!

Most manufacturers nutritionally train some staff and vet clients on their foods so they can give advice about their foods. No one should do down the competition so only need to know about their food. They aren’t officially qualified but have some knowledge although lots of people seem to have some knowledge. COAPE Diploma have nutrition within their behavioural course but so does a vets degree within the medical element. I have a Certificate in Companion Animal Nutrition by COAPE but it is a privately funded course so isn’t widely available. There are very few Educational bodies that offer a Nutritional qualification and I haven’t found any in the UK.

The point I was trying to make was the idea that if a dog food is labelled as ‘complete’ then this is a legal term ie expert nutritionalists have deemed this food to meet all a dogs needs. (I’m referring to manufactured foods rather than raw etc.) If there were a recognised course in nutrition, would it have to follow the reasoning that all foods are equal? I think a course could teach what a dog needs but perhaps not how those needs are met, certainly not without conjecture. I suppose it’s the same as the ‘Super Size Me’ film, technically a MacDonalds meal is perfectly balanced nutritionally but in reality…

The term ‘complete’ means it has all the appropriate levels of nutrients to fulfil the basic needs of a dog and nothing more. Therefore treats don’t have all the appropriate nutrients so you shouldn’t see sodium on treat packages. Not all foods are equal as some are more equal than others :wink: I try to explain to customers that a basic food makes your dog survive but if it is well made it will make it thrive. Not all premium dog foods do that! That statement covers all foods inc wet and raw as they are all manufactured into meals and each is only as good or suitable as the nutritionist makes them. McDonanlds has elements of the nutritional requirements of survive but it isn’t a balanced meal for a human (or any creature). I wrote an essay the other day on Tryptophan and Tyrosine and how to ensure that they made it to the brain. It is not as simple as putting loads in the diet (in fact that makes mental stability worse) but the use of carbohydrates causing insulin production facilitates its transit. Not as simple as a bunch of nutrients but correct balance and digestibility of appropriate nutrients. Due to the complexity and lack of information supplied by most pet food producers a nutritional course would be pointless and hard work. To sit yr 1 COAPE Diploma it £6k+ and lots of work but it covers lots on nutrition.

1 Like

Its good to know about the course you are sitting, sounds very interesting. My only query would be - ‘what conclusion does the course come to regards feeding a manufactured dog food?’ - does this come down to actual brands or is it blanket recommendations?

1 Like

It would seem that the COAPE diploma qualifies for eligibility for membership of the COAPE Association of Applied Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. Looks interesting.

Looks a good course but if I remember rightly it’s part owned by a dog food company

Who? They own a specialist dog feed (Breakthrough) which is a one product but not owned by a dog food company as far as I am aware

We heard of Breakthrough a few months ago when one of our members was trialling it on advice from a behaviourist. IIRC it was not successful. Is there a tie up between Breakthrough and COAPE? There is a reference to this on the website here.

Breakthrough is basically Val’s diet also called the Serotonin diet which has been a regime working for many years but never before had they managed to create a premade food. Val is behind the diet and the Oscar’s head of nutrition helped her make it into a meal format. The only challenge I see is the if the dog eats something outside the diet it can offset all the work done. It should be monitored and instructed on by a COAPE diplomat to get the best chance. The behaviourist may be that person. It works on ensuring tryptophan and Tyrosine make in to the brain in appropriate balanced amounts to deliver the effect. If someone feeds protein or carb at the wrong time in addition it will throw out all the science. Also only works if that is the issue in the 1st place hence the behaviourists assessment and monitoring.

1 Like

The initial thread about Breakthrough is here and it was followed by this thread. Unfortunately in this case our member did not find the product useful. It is interesting to know a bit more about the background to it.

1 Like

It doesn’t recommend anything as it is learning about the science behind every part of anatomy, illnesses, nutrients, behavioural impacts, etc.

Manufactured food - I presume you mean anything that isn’t homemade. Not a simple one to answer but I will try.

Homemade is not normally produced by an expert in laboratory conditions so is very likely unbalanced. Animal will survive in but may develop health conditions later in life.

Wet - many branded options with dreadful ingredients in but dog will survive. There are good options out there but it will cost you more as you are buying 72%+ water. Verdict some good some bad, some thrive some survive. Mostly the later!

Dry - Similar to wet loads of brands with poorly digestible ingredients in but overall there is a wide spectrum to choose from. Every talk I go to they focus on digestibility and quality of ingredients. So if you look at the feed rate the less you feed the more digestible it is. Also lots of marketing gimmicks with words like ‘full of’ or ‘chicken & rice’ yet only 4% of each present. They also use the term fresh which is the meat value before it is made into a meal. Its the biggest market so the big brands focus on it. Again some good some bad. Good brands and bad.

Raw - another varied feeding regime and is only as good as the expert who made the mix. Misconceptions that dogs are carnivore or are wolves drive this market and raw feeders are vocal and passionate. Dogs need a balanced diet and this can be achieved by raw feeding but there are well documented risks that are debated widely. Yet again good and bad.

Overall theme is all can be good and bad but focus on digestible and balanced diet appropriate to lifestage and lifestyle. A bit more knowledge for the general public would be good but where do you stop as a little info is also open to misunderstanding. All food companies put on what they want within the law so if you add up analytical constituents it rarely = 100% and they don’t often give you the percentage of the ingredients. If people don’t like seeing eg sodium and they don’t have to put it on they won’t but it is essential.

Hope that helps without waffling on too much

1 Like

Have to disagree with a couple of points.
quote ‘Homemade is not normally produced by an expert in laboratory conditions so is very likely unbalanced’ - I think a lot of homemade feeders would strongly disagree with this. If you go to the trouble of homemade then you are more than likely to research well. I’m sure most would agree fresh over laboratory prepared processed food.
quote - ‘Misconceptions that dogs are carnivore’ - you seem to have ended the carnivore/omnivore/opportunityvore argument that has raged for years!
quote - ‘marketing gimmicks with words like ‘full of’ or ‘chicken & rice’ yet only 4% of each present.’ - sorry, this is wrong. If a label states ‘chicken and rice’ it has to be 26% chicken and 26% rice minimum - agreed this is not a legally binding definition but it would read ‘with chicken and rice’ to be 4%.
quote ’ digestible and balanced diet appropriate to lifestage and lifestyle’ although I don’t see anything wrong in the theory it does seem to be the tag line to many a vet recommended foods and leaves many things open to interpretation.
quote ‘so if you add up analytical constituents it rarely = 100%’ the analytical constituents shows the levels of certain things (ash, fat, protein etc) in the food and so could never add up to 100%
Your course sounds good but it it does focus on what and how the dogs feeds rather than what feed to recommend - which goes back to my original posting of there not being an independent nutrition course on what to feed.

1 Like

My Pet Nutritionist

The Dog Nutritionist

Vet Chef

1 Like