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by Suzie Cyrenne May 06, 2019 5 min read
All responsible, loving pet parents take their companions to the vet for annual checkups or when they’re feeling under the weather. But what many dog and cat ownersdon’t consider essential is consulting an animal nutritionist about their loyal pals’ dietary needs.
Of course, it’s imperative to see a veterinarian when it comes to your pet’s health, but for specific diet questions, a nutritionist is best. While your vet can give you general advice about the best food to feed your dog or cat, when it comes to creating a diet plan, a nutritionist knows current and in-depth information about different foods and how they can address certain health issues.
“When I started this journey, I had no idea how extensive animal nutrition was going to be,” recounts Becky Mobley of Wild Kingdom Pet Supplies in Texas. “The countless hours I have spent reading and studying, along with all the training I've received by licensed veterinarians and experts in this field, has been an incredible journey, and one that is never over. New advances are always being made, and research is ever-evolving.”
You probably already know thatpoor nutrition can cause health issues in dogs and cats. But many pet parents don’t realize that their companion is lacking a certain nutrient -- or is allergic or sensitive to an ingredient -- until symptoms appear or a diagnosis is made.
Needless to say, if your four-legged friend has developed a health condition, it’s a wonderful idea to see an animal nutritionist so you cancustomize a diet to fit his needs. And if your pal is in tip-top shape? Try to keep him that way by getting him on a food plan that can prevent issues down the road.
Nutrition is complicated, so enlisting the help of a professional is the best way to keep your pal as healthy as can be. After all, Mobley says, “Animal nutritionists are versed in so many areas and facets, that your best bet will be to seek one out to help guide you in your journey to finding the right and best nutrition for your pet.”
Below, find out why all pet parents should consider the advice of an animal nutritionist an essential part of their pet’s care.
Vets are essential in keeping our pets healthy and treating injury and disease. But when it comes to diet, animal nutritionists have a deep knowledge of how certain nutrients (and combinations of them) can help support overall health, as well as assist in the healing or managing of countless conditions.
“Pet nutritionists like myself have had extensive training in whole body health,” explains Mark DiMatteo ofThe Urban Dog in Michigan. “We have detailed knowledge of pet food ingredients: the good, the bad, right down to how a healthy microbiome improves and keeps your pet’s whole body healthy.”
Emily Ellsworth ofPure Pet in Ohio adds, “It’s important to take advice from someone who understands not only the canine [or feline] body and how it works, but also has knowledge of where ingredients are derived from and what purpose they serve.” When it comes to kibble, she says, “You don’t get the full bio of the food by reading the bag.”
If you’re afraid that pet nutritionists only recommend expensive, complicated eating plans for felines and canines, don’t be. It’s the animal nutritionist’s jobto help you implement a diet that’s good for your paland fits your lifestyle.
Every animal needs a different balance of nutrients, depending on the species, breed, age, activity, health history, and so much more. If you don’t have the time or resources to feed your companion a homemade diet, that’s okay; a pet nutrition professional will help you choose the right combination of kibble, wet food, and/or supplementation so your companion can be as healthy as possible.
“A good nutritionist will work within the limitations of the pet owner and modify a plan to not only meet the needs of the specific pet, but also that of the owner,” points out Johnna Devereaux ofFetch RI in Rhode Island. “The best-laid nutrition plan does no good if it requires more from the pet owner than they are willing (or able) to do.”
Experts with good reputations will have seen your pet’s health issues (or something similar to them) before. That means, they have a good idea how to address them and have seen success stories with some of their clients.
What’s more, many nutritionists have expertise and certifications in specific areas (for instance, working with animals who have anxiety, cancer, kidney issues, etc.) that could really benefit your pal.
Still, it’s impossible for anyone to know everything, so the best in the field always make sure to continue learning and keep up-to-date with news and research; that’s how they serve their clients as best as they can.
“I have been studying pet nutrition for over 12 years, but I'm still studying, and still learning something new every day,” says Diana Farrar of Fifi & Fidos Pet Boutique and Holistic Nutrition Center. “The field of nutrition is ever-changing and growing, and I will never know it all. I never call myself a ‘nutritionist,’ only a student of nutrition. What this means to my customers is that I'm on top of most everything happening in the field of pet nutrition, and their pets will benefit from that knowledge.”
Further, look for a nutritionist that works hand-in-hand with a vet, so your dog or cat’s health can be managed both medically and nutritionally. In fact, you may be able to find a veterinary nutritionists that does both!
One big reason many people don’t consult with an animal nutritionist is that they are worried it will be too expensive. While it will cost you some money for an appointment, having a healthy pet can save you thousands in vet bills (not to mention, avoid pain and heartbreak) in the long run. After all, as they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
What’s more, it may only take one or two appointments to develop an eating plan for your pal, especially if they’re already generally healthy. Should an issue arise in the future, you can choose whether or not to see your nutritionist for more help.
“It’s worth the money to talk to a nutritionist,” assures Donna Anderson ofPetite Pet Inn & Spa in Virginia. “You will never know how much money you will save by feeding your pet correctly because [he or she] will NOT be going to the vet so often. It’s true for people as well; spend the money on prevention, and you will save money on all the doctors you WON'T have to see later.”
Now that we’ve convinced you to consult with an animal nutritionist for your beloved companion (it’s a great idea, we promise!), the next step is to find the right professional for you.
The next article in our pet nutrition series will help you find an animal nutritionist near you whose philosophies align with your own. From asking the right questions to looking for red flags, this guide will assist you in pinpointing the perfect professional to address your pet’s health needs in a way that works for you.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne co-founded Zumalka over five years ago, and has worked in naturopathic pet medicine for more than six. Day-to-day, she works as the lead manager for the Zumalka staff and specializes in training the team to have thorough knowledge of pet health and the company’s extensive line of naturopathic remedies.
Suzie has gained a lot of experience from years spent in the pet health field and she earned her degree in Homeopathy at the School of Classical Homeopathy in Quebec, Canada, (a partner of the European Academy of Natural Medicine (AEMN) in France).
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