Position/Title: M.Sc by thesis
Office: ANNU 015
BScH. in Animal Health; major in Companion and Performance Animals (University of Alberta, 2017)
I am currently a MSc-Thesis student studying Companion Animal Nutrition under the supervision of Dr. Anna Kate Shoveller. I became instantly drawn to the field of animal nutrition after taking an introductory course in the second year of my undergrad, and subsequently chose electives with a focus on species specific nutrition, as well as metabolic physiology whenever possible throughout my degree. After graduation I spent some time working in a veterinary clinic and the importance of nutrition on the health of companion animals, as well as the lack of knowledge by many pet owners, became increasingly apparent. Working with owners to ensure maximal nutrition of their pets became one of the most enjoyable part of my job, and through that, I further expanded my interest in learning about all aspects of companion animal nutrition.
The focus of my MSc project is to assess the safety and efficacy of feeding camelina oil, as compared to feeding flaxseed and canola oil, to dogs and horses over a 16-week feeding period. Camelina oil is a promising and sustainable alternative to other plant-based oils currently used in canine and equine nutrition as it is a low-input, high-yield oilseed crop that produces highly unsaturated oil (~90%), has a desirable omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio (1:1.8), and has high concentrations of tocopherols (a natural antioxidant). Safety of camelina oil was assessed using body weight, body condition score, food intake, and biochemical and hematology analyte data to compare animals fed camelina oil to animals fed canola and flaxseed oil, which are generally regarded a safe (GRAS) for use in canine and equine nutrition. Serum and/or plasma fatty acids will be evaluated for both dogs and horses using gas chromatography to separate lipid fractions. Additional deliverables of this project, which will be done by my colleague, Taylor Richards, include inflammatory and non-inflammatory plasma biomarkers, skin barrier function assessments, and subjective skin and coat assessments using a 5-point scale. The canine feeding trial concluded in March 2021, with analysis of canine serum fatty acids currently underway and canine safety data having already been analyzed and published (https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/11/9/2603). The equine feeding trial will conclude in January 2022, with analysis for safety and fatty acid data beginning shortly thereafter.
In the future, I hope to continue to expand my knowledge and contribute to the companion animal industry, ideally continuing to focus on research in the coming years. In my free time I enjoy reading, running, and spending time outside with my dog.