21 Oct 2020

Nurses Certificate in Small Animal Nutrition



The science of small animal nutrition has advanced exponentially during recent years. It is now well recognised, both by veterinary staff and pet owners, that optimal feeding plays a vital role in helping to reduce the risk of common health problems at different life stages, as well as helping in both convalescence and the nutritional management of a wide range of clinical conditions. Seemingly new diets become available every month and clients expect us to be familiar with them and be able to discuss them in a positive way.

Providing the correct nutritional advice is now considered to be a very important aspect of pet care. The task of formulating a feeding plan is often delegated to nursing staff who are directly involved with the care of hospitalised patients. Veterinary nurses also play an important role in communicating with owners and providing feeding advice for pets at home.

This course involves a careful examination of small animal clinical nutrition as a tool to answer nutritional enquiries from pet owners and for improving the nutritional status of both healthy pets and clinical cases. This course is ideal for healthcare professionals who wish to increase the depth of their nutritional knowledge and understanding in order to demystify the subject of nutritional names and numbers.


  • To review and improve the learner’s understanding and knowledge of the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of small animals in relation to pet nutrition
  • To introduce students to basic nutrition and life-stage feeding of dogs, cats and exotic pets
  • To provide course participants with the opportunity to study a wide range of pet food choices, complete nutritional calculation and interpret commercial labels
  • To familiarise delegates with new diets such as raw meaty, vegetarian and vegan so they can discuss these options in a constructive and non-judgemental way
  • To introduce the concepts of key nutritional factors so that delegates can use this knowledge to offer sound nutritional advice and formulate optimal feeding pans for well pets and those affected by a range of frequently encountered clinical conditions


This is a lecture-lab course in which topics are presented by the instructor, practice cases are explained, and assignments are completed by students both during the course modules and outside of class. Objectives, exercises and quizzes are given daily, and there is a comprehensive final exam. This small animal clinical nutrition course assumes that learners are either qualified veterinary nurses or have a similar knowledge base.

Additional home based learning of 2-3 hours will be required after each module.

If you wish to register for the exam, a fee is payable to ESVPS after module 2.

Modules can be attended in any order, to suit individual preferences, subject to availability.

Comprehensive course notes are provided for each module. Refreshments are available throughout the day and lunch is included on all modules.

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Nurses Certificate in Small Animal Nutrition Modules

Anatomy and physiology - an introduction to nutrition
21 Oct 2020 | Swindon

The first module of this small animal nutrition programme will review the anatomy and physiology of the canine and feline gastrointestinal tract and the biochemistry of digestion to enable you to have a firm basis for your nutritional knowledge as you progress through the course.

There will also be a brief study of the anatomy and physiology of the kidneys and liver, followed by the physiology of calcium and phosphorus homeostasis.

Speaker: Kirsty Gwynne RVN Cert Ed C-SQP V1
Basic nutrition and life-stage feeding of cats and dogs
22 Oct 2020 | Swindon

In this module you will study the principles of basic nutrition and life-stage feeding. There are naturally some important differences between the nutritional requirements of cats and dogs to consider.

This module also includes case studies so that you will have an opportunity to practise nutritional calculations.

Speaker: Clare Spencer BVetMed MRCVS
Small mammal nutrition
17 Feb 2021 | Swindon

In this module you will learn about the commonly, and some of the uncommonly encountered exotic mammalian species (eg rabbits, rodents, ferrets and a brief discussion of sugar gliders, small primates etc) and their basic gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology. The aetiology of nutritional diseases in these species and how best to avoid them by supplying optimally balanced diets will be discussed. Clinically relevant areas of other organ systems will also be described eg calcium metabolism and the urinary tract in rabbits. By the end of this module you will feel comfortable in approaching clinical nutritional support for the generally ill patient as well as those suffering specific disease conditions. Cases from the speaker's practice will be drawn on to illustrate these issues and you are invited to bring your own cases, with as much information as possible, on the day, or to send them through ahead of time.

Speaker: Richard A. Saunders BSc (Hons) Zoology BVSc RCVS CertZooMed RCVS, Dipl ZooMed (Mammalian)
Balanced nutrition for birds and reptiles
18 Feb 2021 | Swindon

The second exotic module will cover the nutritional requirements of birds such as psittacines; raptors, other commonly presented wild UK birds and backyard chickens. To allow you to feel more comfortable with a variety of reptiles, species such as terrestrial and freshwater chelonia; snakes; representative species of commonly encountered lizard species (herbivore, omnivore and carnivore) will also be discussed. Understanding the basic gastrointestinal anatomy and physiology of these species will help you understand the aetiology of the nutritional diseases which these species experience and how to prevent them with optimal diets. Clinically relevant areas of other organ systems will be described including Vitamin D metabolism and UV light. Cases from the speaker's practice will be drawn on to illustrate these issues and you are invited to bring your own cases, with as much information as possible, on the day, or to send them through ahead of time.

Speaker: Richard A. Saunders BSc (Hons) Zoology BVSc RCVS CertZooMed RCVS, Dipl ZooMed (Mammalian)
Commercial pet food - types and labelling
13 May 2021 | Swindon

Pet owners are often bewildered by the information on pet food packaging and as a nurse running nutrition clinics you require the knowledge and skills to translate this data into everyday language. This module will review pet food choices, discuss ‘fashionable’ diets and the impact of feeding on behaviour. This module includes case studies and a practical session so that you will have an opportunity to practise nutritional calculations using a wide range of commercial pet food products. By the end of this module you will be better positioned to speak knowledgeably and communicate productively with your clients on the occasionally contentious topic of what they choose to feed their pet, and why.

Speaker: Clare Spencer BVetMed MRCVS
Nutritional Clinics for your patients
14 May 2021 | Swindon

This module will cover topics such as weight management and oral care at home, but also the support of more critically ill patients such as those affected by anorexia and cancer. Patients suffering from critical illness and/or injury often require assisted feeding. Their owners benefit from training and significant support to improve the welfare and outcomes for their pet and result in speedier recovery and shorter hospitalisation times. This module will give you the confidence to run successful nurse clinics in your practice.

Speaker: Clare Spencer BVetMed MRCVS
Nutritional support for gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders
21 Jun 2021 | Swindon

Gastrointestinal signs are a major concern to many pet owners and are a frequent reason to seek nutritional advice. Whether the pet is hospitalised or cared for at home, nutritional support is particularly important for these cases. This module will provide in depth guidance on the ideal approach to cases such as adverse food reactions, colitis, pancreatitis, and hyperlipidaemia. Many endocrine conditions also benefit from personalised nutritional management as they are so complex and affect many different body systems. This module will deepen your understanding of the nutritional care of patients diagnosed with gastrointestinal or endocrine disorders.

Speaker: Clare Spencer BVetMed MRCVS
Nutritional support of organ failure, the lower urinary tract and orthopaedic disorders
22 Jun 2021 | Swindon

This module primarily focuses our attention on the nutritional management of patients who have been diagnosed with organ failure which is more common in the mature cat and dog. A wide variety of organs can be affected including the kidneys, liver, brain and heart. Also included in this module are specific nutritional considerations for urolithiasis and FLUTD. Patients affected by orthopaedic disorders whether young or old can also benefit from nutritional support. Such cases are commonly presented at the clinic for their mobility issues and it has been shown that they require less medical intervention when they receive appropriate dietary management.

Speaker: Clare Spencer BVetMed MRCVS

Booking Options

Payments Initial
Payment Options All prices exclude VAT
NCert Programme £1,595.00 £0.00 £1,595.00
NCert Programme (Deposit + Direct debit in 12 Monthly payments) £115.00 £295.00 £1,675.00
NCert Programme (Deposit and Payment in Full) £1,300.00 £295.00 £1,595.00

To book any option please click the "Book Now" button and select your preferences in your shopping cart.

Payment Terms & Conditions

  1. Payment for the course can be paid by credit card or bank transfer.
  2. Please contact us for pricing relating to corporate veterinary groups and multiple booking discounts.
  3. Full details regarding the course cancellation procedure can be found here: https://www.improveinternational.com/uk/terms-and-conditions/

Registration Information

  1. Applications are accepted on a first-come, first served basis.
  2. Where all available places are full, applicants will be offered first refusal for the next available date.
  3. Confirmation and enrolment details will then be sent to confirm your booking.

Key information

Nurses Certificate in Small Animal Nutrition
21 Oct 2020
22 Jun 2021
8 Day Course
Clare Spencer, Kirsty Gwynne, Richard A. Saunders
£1,595.00 + VAT