GUELPH, ONTARIO — The University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, on Jan. 12 welcomed Dr. Caitlin Grant to its Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) as the recipient of the Nestlé Purina Professorship in Companion Animal Nutrition.
Grant has received three degrees from the University of Guelph and will continue her tenure there as a veterinary proponent for proper companion animal nutrition.
The Nestlé Purina Professorship provides $450,000 to the OVC over the next two and a half years, with the goal of enhancing veterinary student education on clinical nutrition for companion animals, broadening pet nutrition research and expanding the potential for shared information between consumers and veterinary professionals.
“We are proud of our longstanding partnership with the Ontario Veterinary College,” said Todd Cooney, president of Nestlé Purina PetCare Canada. “At Nestlé Purina, we believe that all pets benefit from excellent nutrition. Advancing nutrition education and research through this professorship is part of our commitment to the role that veterinarians play in helping pets thrive.”
According to the University of Guelph, Grant’s appointment makes OVC the only veterinary college in Canada to have two companion animal nutritional specialists on board. Additionally, the OVC is one of only three veterinary colleges throughout Canada with a clinical nutrition service, and the only college offering residency training programs in clinical nutrition for its veterinary students.
“Companion animal nutrition is a very big part of veterinary medicine,” Grant said. “Just as with people, diet is the key to preventing chronic disease and to achieving optimal health of our pets. Practicing veterinarians need to be comfortable with this aspect of preventive care.”
Grant helped expand the OVC Health Sciences Centre Clinical Nutrition Service in 2020, at which time she had completed her doctorate in veterinary science studies and a three-year clinical nutrition residency at the university.
She published a first-of-its-kind study in 2020 that indicated “dieting” cats do not meet essential nutrient requirements for arginine and choline based on 2006 recommendations by the National Research Councill. This study concluded that feeding less is only a partial solution for reducing obesity in cats.
“Industry partners like Nestlé Purina Petcare Canada share many of the same goals as we do as veterinary educators and researchers,” said Dr. Jeff Wichtel, dean of the OVC. “With the addition of Dr. Grant to our accomplished nutrition team, OVC will have a powerhouse of companion animal nutrition knowledge and expertise to share with our students and the wider community.”
During her professorship, Grant plans to expand the OVC nutrition curriculum for the 480 students enrolled across all four years of the university’s DVM program. She plans to incorporate more practical, case-based learning on clinical nutrition topics, emphasizing nutrition communication skills for her veterinary students.
“We’re trying to focus on how to talk about nutrition with pet owners,” Grant said.” This will reinforce veterinarians as a trusted source of pet nutrition information, which can be challenging today considering the plethora of nutritional myths and potentially harmful advice that pet parents receive from online sources.”
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