Survey: Nutrition I didnt learn in vet tech school


Nutrition isnt the focus of veterinary technician schoolperiod. Here are a few things dvm360 survey respondents said theyve picked up on the job.

Monika Wisniewska/

In our dvm360 Nutrition Survey, we asked more than 50 veterinary technicians to tell us what they didn't learn in veterinary technician school about nutrition that they need with clients. We share a few of their comments along with resources for veterinary team members and pet owners. Veterinary technicians told us …

What's the most common question from clients about nutrition?'

“What's the best food?”

“Should I feed a grain-free diet? Which one?”

“How much food should I give?”

“Is raw better than kibble?”

“Why do you recommend a food with byproducts?”

“Is the brand I feed good?”

“Is this pet-store recommendation true?”

“What food should I feed that I can get at Walmart?”

“What's the difference between brands, except cost?”

“How much will this diet cost?”

“Don't you get kickbacks from the big pet food companies?”

Source: 57 veterinary technician respondents in 2019 dvm360 Nutrition Survey

“We learned a fair amount, actually. It's more being able to get the clients to believe it.” (Here's help to navigate the minefield.)

“I didn't learn enough about diet trials and the prevalence of food allergies.” (We've got a handout for that.)

“We were taught the tools we needed to discuss nutrition with our clients. It's not easy to get the information across to some clients, but with careful listening and an ability to communicate, it is possible.”

“I didn't learn much about nutrition in tech school and have gotten most of my information from scholarly articles and working with food companies.”

“How to figure how many kcals a pet should have daily.” (One method shows up here. But maybe you want to know how many calories in a mouse?)

“How to properly plan a diet for overweight pets.” (We got you a toolkit, but if you just want one doctor's sample weight loss plan, try Dr. Jeremy Keen's.

“How to tell a client that the pet store employee is not the best person to be giving nutritional advice.” (Clients hear some crazy things.)

“Regular timed feedings with measured amounts are the best for the pet and rarely used by the client.” (Maybe they should automate it.)

“How to tactfully discuss that a pet is overweight and best encourage compliance with the diet plan.” (Get into their psychology to get it to stick.)

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