5-year research collaboration to advance pet nutrition

Champion Petfoods has initiated a five-year grant to the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, a leading institution in veterinary medicine and animal science, to advance the study of pet food nutrition and train the next generation of scientific leaders in the pet food industry.

As part of the grant, the university has named Dr. Anna Kate Shoveller, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Animal Biosciences, as the inaugural Champion Petfoods Chair in Canine and Feline Nutrition.

“Our purpose at Champion is to earn pet lovers’ trust every day so pets thrive for a lifetime,” says Champion Petfoods Chief Executive Officer Blaine McPeak. “Dedicated original research into pet nutrition is a foundational element that makes that possible. Our collaboration with the University of Guelph and Dr. Shoveller will help ensure that one of the world’s leading research teams has the resources to advance this vital work for the betterment of pets everywhere.”

Shoveller, who earned a Ph.D. in nutrition and metabolism, is a veteran academic leader who has amassed eight years working for leading companies in the pet food industry to advance the understanding of protein and energy. She is a past chair of the American Society of Animal Sciences’ Companion Animal Committee and has received numerous awards for her contributions to the advancement of dog and cat nutrition.

Champion’s grant will support the ongoing study of several topics in conjunction with other international research experts to expand the foundational knowledge of pet nutrition for the health of pets. In addition, this grant provides opportunity for training students in preparation for roles in the pet food and nutrition industry. 

Champion Petfoods Senior Vice President of Research, Innovation and Product Development Jeff Johnston believes Champion’s support of Dr. Shoveller’s work will combine the strengths of the university and the company to drive innovation in current and future pet food products. Champion has a team of Pet Nutrition experts – including PhD-level nutritionists, food scientists, and in-house and external veterinarians – who continually pursue the advancement of nutrition and wellness for pets. By partnering with Dr. Shoveller and the University of Guelph, the combined team will be able to continue applying the latest developments in animal nutrition to develop food that will help dogs and cats thrive.

Dr. Shoveller leads a team that also includes a select group of University of Guelph faculty from the Ontario Agricultural College, the Ontario Veterinary College and the College of Biological Science.

“Diet is part of a complex environment that helps determine a pet’s well-being, and the research we can pursue with Champion’s support will help us learn more about nutrition and the ways it interacts with other factors,” said Dr. Shoveller. 

Read more about pet food educational opportunities

Pet food nutrition: higher education for mid-career pros

Educational institutions around the world offer classes and degree programs designed to prepare the next generation of pet food professionals or boost the knowledge of mid-career pros. A project-based Master of Animal Science (MAS) program at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign may be ideal for pet food professionals who need expertise but have no plans to continue in academia or research. Department of Animal Sciences professors designed the coursework for people in the pet industry with no need to conduct research, but who do require expertise in nutrition, diet formulation and processing, regulations and related topics.

Pet food bioscience education at University of Guelph

Anna K. Shoveller, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada shared information about her university’s offerings for aspiring pet food industry professionals. Our faculty conducts research in the disciplines of nutrition, nutrition modelling, physiology, molecular biology, behavior, breeding, genetics and meat science. Within our college, we collaborate with food scientists and plant scientists. Across colleges, we collaborate with the College of Biological Sciences and particularly human nutritionists and physiologists in Human Health and Nutritional Science. Particularly for my program, I am lucky to have a board-certified veterinary nutritionist in the Ontario Veterinary College, Adronie Verbrugghe, DVM, who I collaborate with extensively. This mix of expertise ensures that we provide high quality mentorship to our undergraduate and graduate students on the academic side. We are also lucky to have a lot of industry collaborative granting programs in Canada and that ensures that we help the industry solve key issues and provide scientific guidance where necessary.

 Pet food careers for veterinary students at UC Davis

Jennifer A. Larsen, DVM, PhD, associate professor of clinical nutrition in the veterinary medicine program of the University of California – Davis, shared what her school has to offer for aspiring pet food professionals. We offer a week-long rotation to veterinary students during their fourth (clinical year).  Several graduates from our veterinary school have gone on to careers with pet food companies.  Many serve as liaisons between the veterinary schools and the food companies.  Others work as communication specialists. For our residents, who are veterinarians undergoing advanced training in small animal nutrition, career options include industry (pet food, pharma, and supplement companies), government (FDA CVM), academia (clinical or research faculty positions usually at veterinary schools), private practice, or consulting.