How to Become a Canine Nutritionist

Canine nutritionists are the ultimate dog lovers.
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If you love dogs, then a career as a canine nutritionist may be right for you. However, you should be an education lover as well, because the path to becoming a canine nutritionist is, at minimum, ten years. At the end of it, though, you won't be able to just whisper to dogs -- you'll be able to give them drugs, too.

    Step 1

    Earn your bachelor's degree. While there is not one specific bachelor's degree that is required to get into a Veterinary Medicine program, you will need a program that exposes you to lots of science and chemistry classes. The University of Florida's Veterinary Medicine Program, for instance, requires two semesters of Biology, one semester of Genetics, one semester of Microbiology, two semesters of Inorganic Chemistry, two semesters of Organic Chemistry, one semester of Biochemistry, one semester of Animal Science and one semester of Animal Nutrition.

    Step 2

    Sign up for a Veterinary Medicine program. To some degree, your choices are limited. There are only 30 university programs in the United States that are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, meaning that you might be moving far away for your education. This program comprises three grueling years of graduate studies capped off by rotations in a veterinary hospital or medical center.

    Step 3

    Get your North American Veterinary License, which involves passing the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam. The exam will quiz you on diagnosing, treating and otherwise caring for animals. It will also test your knowledge of regulations specific to the state you intend to practice in.

    Step 4

    Finish a small animal nutrition residency program. Focusing on dogs means that you need to complete an animal nutrition residency program with an emphasis on canines. Program lengths can vary. The University of Pennsylvania program is two years and involves training DVM candidates while serving as nutrition support for existing animal nutrition experts.

    Step 5

    Get your certification. Just when you thought your office had enough framed paper, here is your final challenge -- passing the small animal American College of Veterinary Nutrition exam. This means that you can become board-certified after meeting a few more requirements. Specifically, you need a board-certified mentor to sign off that you have met both clinical and teaching requirements, completed three case reports, published one article in a peer-reviewed journal, and that you have your license. Now, take a bow to your fuzzy audience -- you are a licensed, certified canine nutritionist.

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