CAM blogs

CAM Meets Cecilia Villaverde

Cecilia Villaverde Haro, BVSc, PhD, Diplomate ACVN (Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist ®), Diplomate ECVCN (EBVS® European Specialist in Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition).
She obtained her veterinary degree in 2000 and her PhD in animal nutrition in 2005 by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). She worked as a post doctoral researcher in feline nutrition at the University of California Davis (UCD), where she also completed a residency in small animal clinical nutrition at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. She is board certified in veterinary nutrition by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN®) and by the European College of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrion (ECVCN) since 2010, and is currently the past president of ECVCN. After working as the chief of service of the veterinary teaching hospital nutrition service in Barcelona (UAB) for 6 years, she is now a consultant in clinical nutrition for Expert Pet Nutrition ( and Veterinary Information Network (VIN). She is a member of the WSAVA Global Nutrition Committee and has written several articles and book chapters on the topic of companion animal nutrition.

Cecilia kindly agree to answer the following questions:

What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?

I think there is high variability between the treatment received by our patients in this area, in part due to the need for a complex, multi-modal approach, which can be difficult to carry out, but also to the lack of evidence and standardisation of some of the therapy options. On the plus side, I also think that we (the veterinary care team) are more attuned than before to the importance of managing painful conditions to achieve a good quality of life in these patients.


As a veterinarian specialised in nutrition what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?

A multimodal approach is essential, including pain management, weight control, physical therapy, accessibility, etc. As a nutritionist, I focus a lot on the weight management option of the plan, which can be the hardest to achieve, especially in patients already overweight. Weight loss plans require time and effort and can be very difficult to implement, therefore focusing on prevention and lifelong promotion of a lean body condition is key.


How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?

In my area, I hope to see more research and clinical trials on the effect of special diets or supplements to manage inflammation and/or promote cartilage health. There is also ongoing research on how to prevent and treat overweight in dogs, which I hope will provide us tools to facilitate this task for everyone.


If you could have the opportunity to give one tip/ piece of advice to an owner with a dog suffering from arthritis what would it be?

Keep your dog lean.