Dr. Marilyn Sthamann D.V.M., C.V.H.
After graduation in 1985, I returned to Regina and began work at Lakewood Animal Hospital. The media attention given to alternative and complementary medicine in recent years led me to investigate options for my patients’ health care. A colleague in Nova Scotia who has been practicing holistic medicine introduced me to homeopathy. After 4 years of study, I became certified with the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy in September 2003. As I began integrating homeopathic treatment into my practice, my interest in a broader holistic approach grew. There was so much to learn! Self study into holistic nutrition, in particular, became a passion. I completed the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies Natural Animal Nutrition course. And after five years of research, in 2021 I published my book; Musings of a Holistic Veterinarian: Let’s Talk About Animal and Human Health. In it, I explain that serious chronic disease is affecting an ever-growing segment of both the pet and human populations. I cite case examples as well as international research related to holistic philosophy, nutrition and vaccines. With this work, I hope to encourage an openness for veterinarians, physicians and the general public to work together toward better health. My practice has thus evolved. Today, I consider myself a holistic practitioner who continues to offer homeopathic treatment when indicated.
I counsel clients to feed a natural, fresh food, homemade diet to their pets.
Pet nutrition is a rapidly changing and growing body of knowledge. New research suggests that highly processed foods (kibbles and canned pet foods) can be associated with increased levels of inflammation in the body which in turn leads to increased rates of chronic disease in our pets. Feeding low processed diets can help to decrease inflammation levels and therefore decrease risk of chronic disease and/or improve overall health.
Ultra-processed foods are pro-inflammatory and associated with the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End products). In human health/nutrition AGEs have been associated with numerous chronic conditions including cancer, diabetes, obesity, allergies, heart disease, kidney disease, joint disease/arthritis, immune mediated diseases and more.
Less processed pet foods include raw, homemade and freeze dried foods and dehydrated foods. A study from Finland University compared dogs fed all kibble foods with dogs fed raw foods. The dogs fed kibble had high levels of inflammation as compared to the ones on a raw diet. Interestingly, when the kibble fed dogs were fed a mix of 70% kibble and 30% raw their inflammation decreased to the same level as the dogs fed 100% raw foods. This means we can consider feeding our pets a variety of foods/diet types and get benefits from each food type (ie cost reduction and/or convenience of processed foods with health benefits from less processed diets) and any improvement we can make in our pets diet can have a profound impact on their health and longevity.
Low Processed Food Options:
Fresh recipe option: We carry a dehydrated veggies/fruit/mineral mixture (Just Add Meat) that is ready to be added to meat- providing a simple fresh food diet. This is produced by Hilary Watson (Bachelor of Science in Nutrition)
Homemade: Homemade meals for Dogs booklet by Jennifer Berg BA, BEAD, CPDT-KA
Note: homemade diets should always come from a recipe formulated in conjunction with a veterinarian/veterinary nutritionist to ensure the diet will not result in dangerous nutrient deficiencies or toxicities. Homemade diet recipes must be followed PRECISELY- no substitutions or alterations can be made at any time.
Commercial: Commercial pet foods are available at many retail stores but we most commonly recommend Metro Pet Market as they have educated staff and carry a wide variety of minimally processed, quality foods which meet nutrient requirements/are formulated with veterinary nutritionists (raw, dehydrated and freeze dried options available).
Offer a wide VARIETY of protein sources including different types of meat +/- dairy from sheep and goats (unless otherwise advised by a veterinarian). It is more than okay to incorporate different food types (at separate feeding times of within the same feeding). Offering a variety of protein sources at a young age may help to avoid food allergies/sensitives later in life (take care to avoid “novel” or rare protein sources like rabbit, kangaroo, lama etc in the event that adverse food reactions or allergies do occur we will want to look at novel protein sources for feeding at that time).
Also consider different brands of food- each company has different strengths and weaknesses or ideas re “ideal nutrition”.
A wonderful reference for your bookshelf: Canine Nutrigenomics- The New Science of Feeding for Dog for Optimum Health By W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana R. Laverdure
As mentioned above, my book: Musings of a Holistic Veterinarian: Let’s Talk About Animal and Human Health is available at Lakewood Animal Hospital and at Metro Pet Market. If you would like a copy mailed to you, email [email protected]