Canine Nutrition Degree and Certificate Program Information

In a canine nutrition degree program, students learn how to create appropriate diets for injured or ailing animals through internships and traditional coursework.

Essential Information

Canine nutrition is a small specialization of veterinary medicine that focuses on the prescribing and monitoring of meal plans for ill or injured dogs. While there are no degree or certificate options specifically in canine nutrition, individuals interested in the field can enroll in a veterinary department clinical nutrition residency program at a 4-year university. These programs normally last 2 years and are designed for those with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree who are seeking postdoctoral training. In some instances, master's-level students may apply if they have strong academic standing and participate in an additional year of training. In either case, all prospective enrollees must have at least one year of clinical veterinary experience. Pre-residency internships are strongly encouraged. Programs accredited by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN) prepare graduates to take the ACVN certifying examination.

  • Program Fields: Clinical nutrition residency
  • Prerequisites: A doctorate in veterinary medicine and 1 year of experience; master's-level applicants can have conditional admission is some cases.
  • Program Length: On average, 2 years

Clinical Nutrition Residency

Most animal clinical nutrition residency programs do not rely on traditional courses; they mostly entail teaching practica and clinical rotations. Lectures often cover the following topics:

  • Nutritional consultation and plans for metabolic diseases
  • Devising feeding plans
  • Critical care nutrition
  • Commercial diet recommendation
  • Animal weight loss plans
  • Therapeutic diets for small animals

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Although not all veterinarians become animal nutritionists, canine nutritionists usually become veterinarians. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer data for the specialty. However, employment for veterinarians is expected to grow at a rate of 12% between 2012-2022 with a mean annual salary $98,230 as of May 2014.

Certification Options and Licensure Requirements

ACVN offers board certification for small animal clinical nutritionists, including canine nutritionists. A DVM and completion of a residency program is required to qualify for testing ( Additionally, all veterinarians must gain state licensure before they can legally practice in a clinical setting. Typically, aspiring veterinarians must pass a national board exam before they can gain licensure.

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