Vets Know Nutrition!
Yes, you read that correctly. Veterinarians are a great source of nutrition information! So are registered veterinary technicians (RVTs), veterinary assistants, etc.! In fact, the entire veterinary team can help tremendously with nutrition decisions for cats and dogs.
Why am I so adamant that veterinary teams are a great source of nutrition information?
The veterinary team is actually the only team that can complete a nutritional assessment for an individual cat or dog. This is why the veterinary team plays such a critical role in helping pet parents determine what is best to feed to their furry loved one.
What exactly is a nutritional assessment?
This is the tool that veterinary teams uses to determine the best diet to feed an individual pet. There are several steps involved, included obtaining a complete nutritional history from the pet parent and performing a nutritional screening for nutrition-related risk factors. This assessment not only takes into consideration everything the pet eats from the morning until they go to bed, but it also evaluates the environment the pet lives in (e.g. multiple pets in the home, competition for food, etc.). The assessment also includes evaluation of the pet’s medical history, physical examination, urination and defecation history (yes, poop matters!), activity level, medications and supplements, and review of any diagnostic tests. All of this information needs to be considered to make an individualized nutrition recommendation.
What resources are used to complete the nutritional assessment?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s Global Nutrition Committee developed Global Nutrition Guidelines and a number of fantastic resources to assist veterinary teams in efficiently completing a nutritional assessment for every pet at every veterinary appointment.

Short diet history form
Nutritional assessment checklist
Body condition scoring charts for cats and dogs
Muscle condition scoring charts for cats and dogs

In addition to the great resources above, several fecal scoring charts (i.e. poop charts) have been developed by pet nutrition companies to make sure accurate information is collected for each and every pet.
Fecal scoring systems
          For dogs from Royal Canin
          For cats from Royal Canin
          For cats and dogs from Purina

What other useful resources are available for pet parents when it comes to selecting the best food for their pets?
Additional Resources

American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition (AAVN)

  • Members are veterinarians, veterinary technicians, animal nutritionists (PhD, MSc), Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists, graduate and veterinary students, as well as non-veterinary professionals interested in animal nutrition.

American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN)             

  • Members are Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists™ working in academia, the animal feed, pet food, and pharmaceutical industries, as well as private and specialty practice.

American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP): Environmental Needs Guidelines

  • The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) released the Environmental Needs Guidelines in March 2013. These Guidelines are organized provide the framework for a healthy feline environment regardless of the cat’s lifestyle.

Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) 

  • This organization provides a forum for its members and industry representatives to safeguard the health of animals and humans, ensure consumer protections, and level the playing field for commerce in the animal feed industry.

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)

  • Client-oriented information offered on how to assess the body weight of a dog or cat, as well as caloric needs and weight loss tools.

Before You Get a Pet: Future Pet Parent Guide

  • Provides practical advice for people in the process of getting a pet, including budgeting for a pet’s ongoing expenses, such as pet food and routine veterinary care.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA): Policies – Pet Food


  • The CFIA regulates pet food imports and related products to prevent animal diseases from being introduced into Canada.


  • Animal health certificates and sanitary requirements for export of pet foods to other countries.

Canadian Nutrient File

  • Extensive database of nutrients in many human foods, including some well-known commercial products.

Cat Healthy

  • Cat Healthy was created by Canada’s board certified feline specialists as an initiative to help more cats receive the preventative healthcare they need to live longer, healthier lives.

European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN) 

  • The ECVCN is recognized throughout the veterinary profession for the high standards of its members, known at Diplomates of the ECVCN. Diplomates are board-certified in veterinary clinical nutrition, similar to ACVN Diplomates; however, the ECVCN also covers comparative nutrition.

European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ESVCN)

  • The ESVCN Congress is organized annually in a European city and is hosted by the respective university. The Congress lasts approximately three days and covers a wide variety of topics pertaining to both veterinary and comparative nutrition fields.

FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

  • The FDA (or Food and Drug Administration) has several websites to learn about regulatory and food safety issues, adverse event reporting, and general industry information.

FDA Pet Food Site

  • Information on pet food safety issues, pet food recalls, food labels, and selecting nutritious foods.

FEDIAF (The European Pet Food Industry Federation) 

  • FEDIAF represents around 650 pet food member companies in 26 European countries and cooperates closely with the EU authorities, regulators and academics to provide pets with safe, nutritious and palatable products through its members.

International Veterinary Information Service (IVIS)

  • IVIS is a not-for-profit organization that provides information to veterinary teams and animal health professional free of charge (e.g. publications organized in electronic books, proceedings from meetings, short courses, international calendar of veterinary events, etc.).

Mayo Clinic Drugs and Supplements Information

  • The site allows you to look up specific herbs, supplements, etc. to see what scientific evidence exists to support their use in humans. It also includes information on interactions, dosing, etc.

NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

  • The NIH (or National Institutes for Health) has recently changed the name of their National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. This is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on the diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered part of conventional medicine.

NIH Office of Dietary Supplements

  • This NIH site is devoted to human dietary supplements, with a small amount of information being applicable to animals. The site allows you to look up specific supplements to see what scientific evidence exists to support their use in humans.

Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative  

  • Helpful handouts (pdf documents) for new pet owners and/or those facing challenges with the multi-pet household; suggestions for environmental enrichment, resources, etc.

Pet Food Industry

  • Free to register and provides information on market data, top performing pet food companies, and the Pet Food Knowledge Center.

Pet Food Institute

  • Industry-based website providing information on ingredient definitions, label regulations, how to read pet food labels, etc.


  • Blogs dedicated to the scientific study of pet nutrition written by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionists™: Dr. Cailin Heinze, Dr. Lisa Freeman, and Dr. Debbie Linder.

Pet Nutrition Alliance (PNA)

  • Quickly find answers for almost any nutritional concern. The Pet Nutrition Alliance offers the largest science based pet-nutrition library on the web to assist the veterinary team.

USDA FoodData Central

  • Human nutrition and supplement information, with links to a variety of other websites.

USDA Nutrient Database

  • Extensive database of nutrients in many human foods, including some well-known commercial products.

Weeth Nutrition

  • Blogs focusing on “common sense veterinary nutrition” written by Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist™ Lisa Weeth.


  • WikiVet is a large collection of online veterinary educational resources.

World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA)

  • Nutrition resources are available at this website for veterinary teams. The mission of this organizations is: “To advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers.”