Meet Dr. Siobhan: Veterinary Nutritionist Expert

Meet Dr. Siobhan Bridglalsingh, DVM, MHEd., PhD, DACVIM (Nutrition), our go-to expert in pet nutrition! With over a decade of clinical experience and specialized knowledge, Dr. Siobhan offers top-notch nutritional advice tailored to each pet’s unique needs. We interviewed Dr. Siobhan about her exciting research in pet nutrition, her journey to becoming a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist (BCVN), and a glimpse into her daily work dedicated to pet health. Learn why you might need a BCVN and how their expertise can significantly benefit your pet’s health.

  1. What inspired you to become a board-certified veterinary nutritionist (BCVN)?

    Honestly, I started off doing PhD research into differently processed foods. Once I was done with that theoretical part of the work, I really wanted to enhance my clinical expertise so that all my research and newly acquired knowledge could benefit the pets that need my help! As a BCVN, I can offer my service to the pets that need that sort of nutrition support as part of their care team.

  2. Can you describe a typical day in your role as a BCVN?

    My typical day (when I function purely as a BCVN) would start off reviewing patients’ medical records while I prepare for consultation appointments with their parents. Once I meet with everyone and come up with the best plan, I then get to formulating and putting together recipes with instructions that go out via email to each pet parent. Beyond pet care, I also liaise with various companies that need guidance with their products or food manufacture. I serve as a consultant to veterinarians in private practice who don’t need a full consultation but would like specific guidance on the best nutrition advice for a couple of their patients. I am also a professor and vet school administrator, so I have classes, labs, and hospital/school administrative duties to perform.

  3. Tell us about your current research as a BCVN!

    My team is currently investigating dietary advanced glycation end product (AGEs) concentrations in differently processed pet foods and trying to correlate that with blood and urine concentrations that vary with the degree of intake. There is no research-based evidence of these compounds being a direct cause of disease in pet dogs and cats, but there is overwhelming evidence of association between high dietary AGE intake in human beings and the incidence or severity of inflammatory and degenerative diseases.

  4. Besides consultations, what other responsibilities does a BCVN have?

    This depends on the main function. If a BCVN is purely clinical and in private practice, then the main goal of the day is to manage patients, whether that is in-hospital or client consultations. In my case, for example, I am in academia, so I am a teacher, researcher, administrator, and clinician. Outside of those two options, there is also industry (pet food companies) and other upcoming companies such as supplement or holistic product companies whose goals are to provide products to improve animal health. A BCVN on staff helps with advising on the nutrient/nutritional goals/veterinary health aspects of such products.

  5. How do you stay updated with the latest research and developments in companion animal nutrition?

    This is a tough one given our busy schedules. We generally have various BCVN teams that share their work and others’ work. We use online platforms to flag publications that contain certain keywords, and we have a journal club that allows us to keep current with reading and discussion among the group.

  6. How do you work with veterinarians and other animal health professionals to ensure comprehensive care for pets?

    BCVNs form part of the pet’s care team. All information is shared between members of the team. I function as an independent consultant to veterinarians who reach out to me to offer my service in conjunction with their medical management. Veterinarians are kept in the loop every step of the way, and we collaborate to do what is most appropriate for the pet’s medical conditions.

  7. What do you enjoy most about your job? What’s your favorite aspect of it?

    The best part of veterinary medicine, no matter which discipline, is seeing positive results when you offer service. In my case, as a BCVN, there is nothing better than hearing that the pet is doing so much better on the new diet and all signs of disease are either gone or subsided, so that both the pet and pet parent are happy, comfortable, and have a better quality of life together.

  8. Are there any specific diseases or conditions that particularly interest you? If so, why?

    I have always had an extra interest in diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. I think it’s because it is where the food goes. I always jokingly say that half of a veterinarian’s job is to make sure the pets eat and poop right!

  9. Are there any emerging trends or advancements in companion animal nutrition that you’re particularly excited about?

    Recently, there has been discussion about the gastrointestinal microbiome and response to ingredients and/or nutrients, how this affects health, and the possible need for variety in a pet’s diet that may be a better option. Traditionally, it has been accepted that dogs and cats should eat the same diet for their entire lives. I think the conversation about variety is interesting as a new consideration, and I look forward to clinical evidence to support this new realization.

Dr. Siobhan Bridglalsingh’s work as a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist showcases the crucial role of specialized diets in promoting pet health. Her innovative research and hands-on approach to pet nutrition highlight how tailored diets can significantly improve the well-being of our pets. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll dive deeper into Dr. Siobhan’s practical advice on pet nutrition as she debunks common myths.