My answer to this 4 years ago would of been, Hell Yes!! Qualifications baby!! This opinion grew when i was doing my diploma too of course, then my advanced in experience “Peers” started to slam courses to which i argued with at the time (As i had a natural bias and blinded by something, I’ve not seen until NOW) So yes Miss Rutherford, if you’re reading this, i am gracefully eating humble pie!! (P.s thanks for reaching out mid lockdown to see if i was OK)
Now my mindset has changed, as there are many course popping up now via sponsored ads on social media from various providers, some basic certifications, some with CPD points(Continuing Professional Development), some accredited , some diplomas and many other certifications and these are ranging from £9.99 up to £1000, but are they worth it? You’d hope if you was spending £500+ on a diploma for your own educational purpose, it had best be viable surely?
I personally got my Level 3 Diploma in Canine Health and Nutrition via the British College of Canine Studies (£450 at the time, then two weeks later, had a black Friday sale and had 50% off vouchers, i was gutted!!) , but this was purely to give me accreditation to get insured in respect of professional indemnity, but my knowledge surpasses this diploma 10 fold, in fact i’d even say it now contradicts the learning material within it, as i follow a naturalistic path rather then the conventional veterinary science approach, which that diploma had a natural bias towards! It isn’t just this diploma, all I’ve come across seem to have this common flaw, even the Holistic courses!
I’ve seen some course material through my own experience plus what others have brought to my attention and i can now see that just because something is accredited, it doesn’t mean its the correct guidance! Example: I’ve just started a Holistic Canine Health diploma, through a provider i won’t mention (YET) until I’ve completed this course and i can run through a full opinion over time, but even in the first modules, it’s suggesting that 30% of a dogs meal should be grain/starchy vegetables and anyone who reads my guidance know’s this is a massive contradiction, It is simply is ill guidance and i’m dumbfounded that a Holistic course shares such a view!
Most I’ve learnt has been through reading various books, including the NRC and hands on experience in feeding multiple dogs which consisted of multiple breeds and even handling dogs with certain medical issues and addressing the diet by putting into practice what i had read with positive results, non of which had grains or starchy vegetables in their diet at all, if i had this would of excelled certain conditions for sure, pancreatitis being one!
This is why there is so much “Advice” out there when it comes to feeding fresh foods, the issue i find is when people complete these courses and then are under the impression that’s it ,their education is done, they are the Obi One of Canine Nutrition and they just reiterate the course material they learnt from, which is stereo-typically biased, flawed and lacking scope into specific areas. They then get defensive when challenged on their knowledge and use that all too common “block” feature instead of partaking in a healthy debate and potentially learning new things along the way!
So are they worth it?
Well this question has two answers, which are:
If your just doing these for your own self knowledge and it’s not something your going to pursue as a career then i’d have to say NO! It’s frivolous unless you just want them as a brownie badge, but the learning material in them, you can get online for free and you can buy books from amazon, If you a course please make sure you don’t fall into the trap of believing your the Obi One of Canine Nutrition, I sure as hell did initially, then i realised i had merely just gone from the baby swimming pool with arm bands and jumped straight into the deep end of the adult pool without the arm bands, If i just stayed at my knowledge level my diploma gave me, i couldn’t run a Consultation as the knowledge was lacking, so this why you have to read and read some more , liaise with other people who do what you do and see different perspectives, I’d be lost if it wasn’t for my industry social media colleagues (That’s my terminology for them) and vice versa, we all learn and adapt from each other who have differential hands on and even clinical experience, in this niche you cannot have a once track mind, you have to learn to adapt to several methods as what works for one dog, won’t work for another and i’ll admit point blank, i’m not always the best to help someone as a dogs needs falls out of my remit, so i refer onto others while i study and make my abilities stronger!!
Yes these courses are worth it but only the diploma /higher degree type as these help you get insured to work as a professional and run consultations, If you do this without insurance and your guidance ends up costing someone a Vet bill, then you will be held liable and i personally couldn’t afford that Vet bill + Compensation, can you? This is the only way these courses would be worth it although i’m not talking about a £9.99 over night course, the equivalent of a pub quiz!
You need to make sure your course is accredited and industry recognised in order to get yourself insured. Again this is purely to get insurance, you need to get more knowledge under your belt by self education as the material in the courses aren’t the be all and end all, they are pretty much the basics and aim it healthy dogs, also don’t let the price determine the quality of the course, check with the provider, see who wrote the course, they will tell you then you can do your research on them and if they advocate methods that you know are wrong, they don’t partake in the course, find another!
I personally have letters after my name after completing my diploma (BCCSDip.HthNut) which looks fancy and can give an illusion of credibility, but that diploma alone enabling me to use them letters is inadequate, my knowledge has developed /advanced significantly since then and THAT is what’s credible. Don’t let fancy letters fool you, they mean diddly squat, it most definitely doesn’t mean you should take what that person says as gospel, always research and that’s coming from me, research everything i say, that way over time you’ll see what i say is credible and it will build a unique bond between us as you’ll know i’m a trust worthy source of information and guidance and use me as a short cut to your own knowledge!!
Remember if your doing these courses in respect of starting a business in this niche, then in the UK, you can’t call yourself a “Canine Nutritionist” it’s frowned upon by the RCVS/VMD/BVA this is why i label myself as a “Canine Nutrition and Welfare Fanatic” some label themselves as “Canine Dietary Consultants/Specialists” regardless of the label, as long as they’re insured your good to go to follow their guidance just do your research of the back of what you read from them, use it as a starting point! 🙂
These are my Social Media Colleagues and/or inspirations who i don’t always agree with 100% as it’s not always about following, it’s about learning and adapting your own guidance although i keep my circle small, this list isn’t exhaustive, there are others i just forget allot of names until i see their content on my social media platforms!
- Hope Turner of Healthful Dog Magazine
- Junior Hudson of Heal the Dog
- Elka Bekmatova of Canine & Equine Prime Nutrition
- Jason Allen of Workshop Raw
- Emma Rutherford of The Natural Canine Kitchen
- Catherine Edwards of the Catherine Edwards Academy
- Caroline Griffiths of the Spiritual Dog Trainer
- Julie Arnold of Naturally Healthy Dogs Ltd
- Luca Drey of Hear Me See Me Love
- Stefanie Jane of Stefs Pet Pantry
- Gabriele Joy of Canine Ascension
- Jackie Gowland of The Functional Canine
- Scott Marshall II of Dog Dad
- Kimberly Morris Gauthier of Keep The Tail Wagging
- Renee Morin of Repawsitory
- Ronny Lejeune of Perfectly Rawsome
- Rodney Habib of Planet Paws
Veterinary and /or Doctor Inspirations (Global)
- Dr Nick Thompson of Holistic Vet Ltd (Holistic Vet)
- Dr Conor Brady of Dogs First (Doctor, but Non-Veterinary)
- Dr Jean Dodds of Nutriscan/Hemopet
- Dr Ronald Schults (World Renowned Veterinary Immunisation Specialist)
- Dr John Robb of Protect The Pets
- Dr Karen Becker
- Dr Judy Morgan
- Dr Ian Billinghurst
Authors / Filmographers/Producers (Inclusive of the above too)
- Catherine O’Driscol of Canine Health Concern
- Kohl Harrington of Pet Fooled
I hope this gives a little insight and helps you make a decision if you wish to partake and spend money on a course in canine nutrition!
Michael K A Bennett- BCCSDip.HthNut (See, looks fancy)
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