Course Overview

Nutrition is core to patient wellbeing, but is often overlooked in the exam room. Yet nutrition is the 5th vital assessment of patients and is the basis for survival. Without proper nutrition, patients can become deficient or over supplemented, which, in turn, creates deficiencies in other nutrients.

Technicians can contribute significantly to client education and patient care by increasing their knowledge and understanding of nutrients, hence making confident, clear recommendations. When a veterinary practice neglects to discuss nutrition, the client has no choice but to seek information from other sources such as advertisements, pet stores and the Internet. Veterinarians normally do not have time to discuss nutrition with owners therefore veterinary assistants and technicians are core to client education. In addition, owners frequently ask questions and seek recommendations from the technician, often before they will ask the doctor.

Nutrition: Filling Your Bowl with Core Concepts covers the basics of nutrition and delves deep into energy and requirements. It examines the regulation of pet foods, ingredients, pet food labels and guaranteed analysis. It focuses on the feeding management of patients for the pet’s entire life cycle.

Once students complete this course, they will be able to determine individual patient requirements and utilize key characteristics to recommend a diet specifically for that animal. Nutritional client education helps veterinary team members build lasting relationships with clients, ultimately increasing client compliance, hospital reputation and practice health. Make the 5th vital assessment part of practice patient protocols and help patients live a long and healthy life. It is recommended, although not required, that participants work in a practice to complete this course. 

This course was formally titled Basic Principles of Nutrition.


Continuing Education Credits

Course meets the requirements for 20 RACE hours of continuing education credit for veterinary technicians in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB's RACE approval. However, participants should be aware that some boards have limitations on the number of hours accepted in certain categories and/or restrictions on certain methods of delivery.

This course is an interactive online course that meets RACE requirements; program number 57-10274.


Veterinary Technician Specialty Academy Acceptance

The Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians

Nutrition: Filling Your Bowl with Core Concepts
is accepted by the Academy towards continuing education requirements.


Additional Courses On This Topic

Nutrition: Filling Your Bowl With Core Concepts and
Nutrition: Managing Disease in Companion Animals are partner courses designed to provide a extensive grounding in nutrition.

It is recommended that the participant first take Nutrition: Filling Your Bowl With Core Concepts or already have a strong grasp of the topics covered in this course.

Both courses utilize the same textbook.

To learn more about either course just click on the course title above.


Course Content

This 8-week course discusses the basic elements and components of the nutritional requirements of dogs and cats. Both of these species have unique metabolisms and other factors that must be considered when making recommendations to clients.

This course will help the student understand the nutrients required to make a complete and balanced diet as well as the requirements of AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). In addition, students will be able to calculate the caloric needs for individual patients based on their life style and/or disease.


Course Focus and Learning Objectives

Nutrition: Filling Your Bowl with Core Concepts is an entry-level course designed for practice team members who have little to some background in nutrition. This course is appropriate for veterinary technicians and assistants who provide nutritional recommendations to clients. Veterinarians may also benefit from this course, as it will provide an insight into nutrition as it relates to companion animals.

The components of this course are critical to developing an understanding of why particular nutrients are used to provide nutritionally complete and balanced diets. Many of the assignments and case studies for this course require the use of hospital resources for completion. Students must have prior work experience or be presently employed in a veterinary practice in order to complete the assignments.

Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  • Determine and describe the function of essential and nonessential nutrients for dogs and cats
  • Determine the metabolizable energy in pet foods
  • Calculate the estimated daily caloric intake for individual patients
  • Discuss the importance of nutrient balance in pet foods
  • Compare and contrast the differences between dog and cat metabolisms
  • Evaluate ingredients used to manufacture pet foods
  • Recognize the functions of each agency that regulates pet food manufacturing
  • Interpret ingredient lists
  • Compare the Guaranteed Analysis of several pet food products
  • Define the feeding requirements and caloric needs for each life stage
  • Determine feeding regiments to fit the needs of each patient
  • Calculate caloric intake for orphaned neonates
  • Estimate the growth patterns of various breeds
  • Evaluate the special requirements of performance/working/athletic dogs
  • Critique common myths associated with feeding pets


Participation Access Parameters

The design of this course allows participants to enroll at any time. 

After enrolling, please allow up to 48 hours for course activation. Each participant will have a personal start and end date that begins upon activation.


Participant Feedback

...The best was the Geriatric section, I have 2 geriatric dogs and there is so much confusion out there on what they did and don't need. One of mine also has Systemic Lupus so feeding is very important but not a lot of research since most of them don't make it to their senior and geriatric years. The other was the neonatal and gestation section. Working in a shelter I have to care for orphans or pregnant mommies a lot so that will be beneficial on their care.

...I most enjoyed learning more about the specific nutrient requirements for different lifestages. It has provided me with more confidence to talk to owners in practice and know I am making educated recommendations. Debunking common myths is also always interesting :)

...I found the written assignments to be most helpful as they helped reinforce what I learned in the reading materials. Instructor comments on these assignments were also very helpful.

...I really enjoyed the three part clinical assignment - I felt that it was extremely relevant and made it more of a real life situation by following one pet through a stage in her life. The book has great material to reference at any given point throughout my job for any info for clients.

...I enjoyed going over the nutritional differences of the life stages, that will be very helpful in practice.

...Feeding requirements and caloric intake for various stages of life, including pregnancy and lactation. The difference in cat/dog nutritional requirements.


Required Materials

Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals, 3rd Edition Linda P. Case, MS, Leighann Daristotle, DVM, PhD, Michael G. Hayek, PhD and Melody Foess Raasch, DVM

Important Text Information:

It is mandatory that each participant has access to this textbook as the contents of the book are not reproduced within the course. It is up to each person to determine the best way to acquire the text. Some will already have the text in their library and therefore will not need to purchase another copy. The text is available as a print publication and as an eBook. Where to purchase and in what format is totally up to the participant. The text is not included in the fee for this course.

USA residents: Elsevier texts, both print and eBook, are available via the VetMedTeam Elsevier Text Portal at discounts off regular retail of 25 - 35 %. If you would like to visit the portal to take advantage of the discount please use this link:

VetMedTeam's Elsevier Text Portal

Important: Regardless of which option the participant chooses, access to a copy of the textbook is mandatory. Without the text the student will not be able to complete the assignments, case studies and examinations. If enrolling close to or beyond the course start date, it is recommended that the text be purchased as an eBook to prevent text acquisition related delays. VetMedTeam has no control over shipping delays and other related problems.



Additional Courses Using Required Text

The textbook in this course is also utilize in Nutrition: Managing Disease in Companion Animals. Click on the link for more information regarding that course.


Course Completion Requirements

Completed students are awarded a certificate of completion. Completion requirements include:

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Module Assignments: Designed to help the participant reinforce newly learned material

  • Instructor Graded Interactive Case Study Assignments: Designed to help the participant apply the newly learned skills and knowledge though patient and practice based scenarios

  • Examinations: All examinations must be submitted with a score of 80% or better

  • Course survey


Course Instructor

Kara Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS-Nutrition, Dentistry (H), Internal Medicine (H)Kara Burns, MS, MEd, LVT, VTS-Nutrition, Dentistry (H), Internal Medicine (H)

Kara Burns is a licensed veterinary technician originally from New England, now living in Kansas. She holds a master’s degree in physiology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She began her career in human medicine working as an emergency psychologist in the Maine Medical Center emergency department. She also worked at Maine Poison Control as a poison specialist dealing with human and animal poisonings. She then made the move to veterinary medicine and worked in small animal private practice and a small animal and avian practice in Maine.

Kara is the Founder and President of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians. She teaches nutrition courses around the world and is a contributor to Kara works as an independent nutritional consultant.

She is a member of many national, international, and state associations and holds positions on many boards in the profession; AAVN executive board technician liaison; the NAVTA Journal editor in chief; SVME Board of Directors; Veterinary Team Brief Advisory Board; VSPN Nutrition Board Moderator; International Society for Sports Nutrition; Fear Free Advisory Board; Pet Nutrition Alliance Educational Tools committee, and is the president of the Kansas Veterinary Technician Association, to name a few.

She teaches nutrition courses around the world on the VIN/Veterinary Support Personnel Network and on VetMedTeam. She also is a contributor to Kara also works as an independent nutritional consultant..

She is a member of many national, international, and state associations and holds positions on many boards in the profession; AAVN executive board technician liaison; the NAVTA Journal editor in chief; NAVTA Communications Director; Veterinary Team Brief Advisory Board; VSPN Nutrition Board Moderator; International Society for Sports Nutrition; and is the president of the Kansas Veterinary Technician Association, to name a few.

She has authored many articles, textbooks, and textbook chapters and is an internationally invited speaker, focusing on topics of nutrition, leadership, and technician utilization.

Ms. Burns has been featured on the cover of the Veterinary Technician Journal and the NAVTA Journal. She was named the 2013 North American Veterinary Conference Technician Speaker of the Year. She is the 2010 NAVTA Veterinary Technician of the Year, as well as the 2011 Dr. Franklin Loew Lecturer. Kara has also been named the National Association of Professional Women ‘Woman of the Year’ for 2010-2011 and the Cambridge Who’s Who in Professionals V.I.P. for 2010-2011. She was accepted into the International Women’s Leadership Association in 2012..

She enjoys spending time with her wife Dr. Ellen Lowery and their children. They are actively involved in coaching youth sports, 4-H, school activities, and church ministry. The family also includes two horses, a pony, a miniature horse, two sheep, a pug, a French bulldog, 6 birds, 4 indoor cats (one of which is three legged), a guinea pig, a blue–tongue skink, and a bearded dragon!



Price: $211.00



VetMedTeam 2014