Over $35M in federal funding could further pet health

Watch above: Federal funding to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan will further projects and may mean your pets are eating healthier. Joel Senick explains how pulse crops play a part.

SASKATOON – Universities across the country will receive more than $35 million in research infrastructure funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The announcement was made Tuesday at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) in Saskatoon.

“We’ve committed some $35 million across the country for ground breaking innovative research like we see here at the University of Saskatchewan,” said Ed Holder, the federal minister of state for science and technology.

The funding effort will span across 37 institutions, aiding 156 projects. At the U of S, four projects will receive assistance, including one at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, where the announcement was held.

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“Today’s investments in research by the Canada Foundation for Innovation will have impact for our health and our environment,” said Jim Basinger, the U of S associate vice-president of research, during the presentation.

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U of S veterinary researchers Lynn Weber and Jaswant Singh will receive almost $175,000 to purchase a high-powered ultrasound microscope that will assist their efforts in creating more nutritious pet food. Weber said the microscope would allow researchers to monitor how diet affects animals like cats or dogs and could lead to curbing obesity in pets.

“We can actually get down, not just at seeing some blood vessel walls, but actually seeing layers in the blood vessel,” said Weber after the presentation.

Weber and her team hope to develop healthy pet food that contains Saskatchewan grown pulse crops, like peas and lentils, instead of corn and rice, which she said most pet food is made out of.

“Not only will it improve the health potentially of cats and dogs, but also then opens up the markets for cat food and dog food for these Saskatchewan grown pulses, which benefits the local economy and Canadian economy in general,” said Weber.

“Imagine putting [pulses] into pet foods, for dogs, for cats, for fish, what that does in terms of their health and at the same time creates a great market for pulse right here in Saskatchewan and that’s great news for Canada,” added Holder.

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