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NMSU To Offer Class on Nutrition for Companion Animals

LAS CRUCES - A new class on companion animal nutrition could prepare New Mexico State University students for the promising veterinary field or simply help them take better care of their pets.

Animal Science 285, a three-credit class, will be offered in spring 2006 and every fall thereafter, said Shanna Ivey, assistant professor of animal and range sciences.

Ivey, Mark Petersen, Sergio Soto-Navarro and Clint Löest - all nutritionists in the animal and range sciences department - will team teach the course, focusing on dogs and cats but also covering snakes, birds and fish.

"It's valuable because of the way people are viewing their pets these days, and I think there's a large market for our students for employment with a background in companion animal nutrition," Ivey said. "But I can also say it's been an interest to some of our nonmajors who are just interested in how to take better care of their pets."

She said the faculty felt the class was needed and had received requests for such a course. Instructors are expecting 20 to 30 people in the class, particularly those in the preveterinary program, she said.

Linda Davis, president of the NMSU Pre-Vet Club, said many individuals come into the program wanting to go into small animal practice, but the animal science department focuses on large animals.

"That class creates a variety for students who aren't necessarily interested in large animals," she said.

Tim Ross, animal science professor who works with preveterinary students, said the class will help maintain the interest of the students wanting to treat companion animals.

"Secondly, it will give them a background in companion animal nutrition when they get to vet school," he added.

Ivey said each instructor will teach four weeks of the class.

"It's going to be nice in the team environment because the students are going to get exposure to each of us they might not have otherwise had," she said.

Ivey added that the team approach allowed faculty to offer the course in addition to their full teaching schedules.