Formal instruction and continuing education engagement as factors improving small animal general practitioners discussing nutrition with clients

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2023 Mar 13;261(7):1028-1036. doi: 10.2460/javma.22.12.0577. Print 2023 Jul 1.


Objective: Evaluate whether general practitioners' formal small animal (canine and feline) nutrition instruction in veterinary school and the amount and type of continuing education engagement affect perceived self-reported confidence and frequency in discussing nutrition with clients.

Sample: 403 small animal veterinarians who responded to an online survey distributed through the American Animal Hospital Association.

Procedures: Veterinarians were surveyed regarding perceived amount of formal instruction received in veterinary school, interest, time committed to self-education, and confidence in both self and staff knowledge in small animal nutrition.

Results: Of those veterinarians who responded to the survey, 57.1% (201/352) reported they received "none" or "very little" formal instruction in small animal nutrition, while 151 of 352 answered "some" or "a significant amount." Veterinarians with more formal instruction and veterinarians who reported spending more time in self-education had increased confidence in their own nutritional knowledge (P < .01) and that of their staff (P < .01).

Clinical relevance: Veterinarians with self-reported significant formal instruction and veterinarians with higher continuing education engagement were more confident in their knowledge and their staff's knowledge regarding therapeutic and nontherapeutic small animal nutrition. Therefore, it is important for the profession to address veterinary nutrition education gaps in order to increase the veterinary healthcare team's engagement in nutritional discussions with their clients for both healthy and sick pets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases*
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases*
  • Dogs
  • Education, Continuing
  • General Practitioners*
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterinarians*