In this episode we speak to Dr. Sasan Haghighat from The Holistic Veterinarian Clinic in Newmarket Ontario. In this episode, Dr. Haghighat discusses the importance of feeding your dogs real food, the reasons behind making the switch and changes you can made today as a dog owner to improve your pup's health!
Today on dog health and nutrition, the Puppy Gang podcast, we're speaking to Dr. Sasan Haghighat from the Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Newmarket, Ontario, about whole health and nutrition for dogs.
Welcome, Dr. H, it was so excited to have you on our podcast today. You've got a super impressive bio. Can you tell us a little bit about what your journey was to becoming a veterinarian and why you decided to specialize in holistic medicine?
Oh, yeah. Thank you, Sarah, for having me on your podcast. Very excited to be here.
Yeah, you know, as a as even a kid, when I was very young, I always knew that I would like to do something with pets. I love to have pets. And when I was growing up, I wasn't allowed to have pets. So I always got
any stray pet or anything that I could have my cat my hands on, I would smuggle them in my house and hiding them in my bedroom.
And needless to say, when I graduated from higher school, I applied for vet school and graduated as a veterinarian.
I was graduated, I was working, I started working in emergency clinic when I came to Canada and I got relicensed, I started to work in emergency clinic. And I really liked the emergency aspect of Veterinary Medicine, very life saving, very rewarding, sometimes sad, of course, when I was losing my patients, but overall, I found that part of conventional medicine very rewarding.
What made what led me to the holistic part was the fact that conventional medicine, although very life saving and very important, but it didn't have anything to recommend to improve health and maintain health, it's very life saving when it is an emergency but for improving and maintaining health. There was really a shortcoming in private practice, I was seeing my patients chronically ill, and being on this medication and that medication and still not getting better.
There was definitely shortcomings there. Because we are in allopathic medicine, we always have a very reductionist view on the on the problem and we don't look at the whole picture.
Which which food is one of them is the cornerstone of the health in my view.
Yeah, this was not a focus in terms of traditional practices and
practices. It was especially when I started practicing, it's slowly is becoming a little bit more understood and accepted. But at that time, especially It was not understood and not paid attention to at all are most my patients were on a highly processed food either in form of kibble or canned food, which, which obviously was not good for their health.
So I through my journey I got to know Dr. Drew who is a leading naturopath and a veterinarian. She's retired now and lives in this states. But I got to know her. I started my mentorship with her and then it started from there. I went to Florida to study at agreat acupuncture school there. I got my acupuncture certification there. And then from then it's a never ending journey. I took a bio regulatory course in Edmonton from a school that are based from UK was really helpful and, and yeah, life goes on.
Well, my dogs have both done really well with your acupuncture.
Well, one of the things that you mentioned as a keystone of areas that you focus on in a keystone of animal health is diet and how that impacts dog's health. So can you tell us a little more about why diet is so important and what your approach to nutrition is?
Here food as we know it's one of the cornerstone of health. I mean, You have heard that for sure. We are what we eat. Okay. And you know that that famous famous quote from Hippocrates that lets food be your medicine and medicine be your food. And that is so so true. Definitely. Nutrition and Food is a big big piece of the health overall healthier other aspects of course too. But that is a I find that as long as you don't fix the food part, no matter what you do, it will be even if it works, it's very temporary.
What I recommend for me, here is what I do in my practice whenever pet comes to my practice, that is the first question that I asked my clients, what are you feeding your dog? If you're feeding anything that is processed, if comes up out of the bag of the shelf or out of the can like it to be changed. Either totally or most of it so they need to be at least 80% of their food from fresh foods.
It cannot be processed it cannot be in a kibble firm because as you know with kibble issues are there are ingredient issues most of them are fifth grade, not human grade. Even if they are human grade they are there is always a question about the quality that they have.
Kibbles are also extruded- they put them through the high heat and high pressure in that will change the food it will destroy the structure of the protein.
With the ingredients you know that when you put the carbohydrate or starch through the high heat there is a substance in the food that's produced is called acrylamide.
Acrylamide, we know that is a big, it's a it's one of the most known or well known carcinogens. That's what it is in the bag of potato chips, or your baked goods most of them, especially if they are prepared in a high heat, they produce acrylamide and and now imagine feeding your best friend your pet food that is has that carcinogen EMET days in days out for the rest of her life. I mean, that cannot be good at all.
So would would you say that your approach then is more on the curative side of things or on the preventative side of things. as a preventative Of course preventive. I mean, of course, I see lots of patients that they are sick, they are already coming to me.
So we have to first make them better and then maintain it. But when they are when they are coming and they're fairly healthy, we have to just make sure or from a young age to make sure to do our best to maintain health and improve health with with food.
Here's the thing with what you put in your mouth, in your mouth or your pet's mouth, you can either heal or you can harm. So the approach is you have to just make sure that whatever you put in your mouth or your pet's mouth, make sure that you're healing the body.
Yes, of course if you're on an inferior food at quality, highly processed kibble you survive, you know your pet survives. They can live but but they cannot thrive. They are not healthy. Okay. Yeah, see that? I see that all the time. When I see my practice.
Most of the times I normally start with a cooked diet. Very simple ingredient, really easy one pot recipe I will have the client to prepare the food for them.
I sometimes I do acupuncture for them and they make sure there's no restriction for the body moves. And I then ask them to come in about six to eight weeks. In the it's unbelievable their transformation that it they even do in that six to eight weeks how the body is able to recover itself when you include fresh fresh foods. That is living. Yeah, that's fantastic.
And one of the things that Marisa and I talk a lot about is what you were alluding to earlier with human health and we know a lot now about nutrition that we should be eating, but it seems like for pets
hat you were alluding to earlier with human health and we know a lot now about nutrition that we should be eating, but it seems like for pets that has lagged behind. And we don't know as much information or we don't often think about nutrition in the same way that we do for ourselves and that we wouldn't eat processed food every day. What have you experienced and seen in the change in your customers, learning more about nutrition for their pets and changing what they've been feeding?
Absolutely. Very good question. Yeah, you know what, I think there is a big shift in us as as as as human as you're becoming more and more than ever are staying away from processed foods, eating healthier, as much as you can.
And they see that slowly that shift in my clients to that they are becoming more and more aware that to make sure to stay away from processed food.
With pets, unfortunately, there is lots of confusion in the market about what pets can or cannot eat. You know what you should always always go back to the basic frame, you're feeding your pet, try to keep it as simple as possible. I mean, to stay away from processed food, and make sure that you're adding because even if you're on 100%, or prepared diet, it's very hard to get all those micronutrients that we need, because there's so it has changed and the food is not as nutritious as it used to be even 3040 years ago.
So it's always good to add a good micro green in form of kelp or spirulina, a cleaner micro green to the food to make sure that the dog is getting the micronutrients they need.
So what are some of the main conditions that you've seen improved in dogs from a change in diet?
Well, what I see the first thing that you see when you put it to all that has been their whole life on a processed food. First thing that you see when they change the diet is their coat. Next time when they walked into the office, you see the code, the code starts becoming more shiny here and mobility, I mean, all those dogs that are very arthritic, okay, as long as you're not too far, or treading, when you change the food, because you're bringing the inflammation down a processed food is really inflammatory that causes lots of inflammation in the body.
And it's very acidifying tissue. In tissue acidity, we know that it contributes to arthritis and lots of you have problems in the body. So because the fresh foods in homemade or raw are not inflammatory, and in most times are all also very alkalinizing. It's an alkaline food, you see that it improves the arthritis.
So it's the quote, arthritis, they have a better breath, rise or shine here, and they are more lively, you can tell and that's what you do you hear what I hear from my clients, most of the time, you're just more life. And they are excited about fresh food than they are about kibble.
The kibble sits in the bowl, for the whole day they go either beloved of it when they are very hungry. But what I hear most of the time is that they are excited, they are waiting for it.
It's interesting you say that because that's you know, if you think about that, like we would be bored eating the same food every day. And one of the things that Sarah and I have really talked about, you know, if I go to McDonald's and have a Big Mac, you know, I know I'm not maybe making the healthiest choice for my body but the differences you know, I'm the one who's making that choice, but whereas pets only have to rely on for their nutrition.
Yes, absolutely. That's so true. And you know what, Marisa? Very good point if you once in a while, stopped by McDonald's and grab a McDonald's. That is just once in a while you don't do it. If you do you know what that's always my I never forget my that's good for my mentor Dr. Dre always used to say 80% of the time if you do things right to your body with food. And if you your body forgives you for the rest of the 20% Very good. So that is you know, that is that is fine for pets. I mean listen, they are 100% of the time they are at our mercy and eating what we give them right?
Processed food that is full of toxins, acrylamide, bad ingredient, but it gets devastated and remember they live such a short time compared to us. Yeah, toxic, relatively speaking, accumulates much quicker in their body. Right? Because if you let's say you're feeding a dog, five years of processed food, full of toxins is like a person eating close to 40 years depending on the breed of processed toxic foods. So you, you changes that you see in somebody in their 40s after eating a long life of bad food. You see it in a five year for the four year old.
What do you say then Dr. Hyatt that eating fresh foods like do you think dogs are living as long as they should be?
No, absolutely not.
I've had a rescue for about five months, and I got him about eight years old. And that really worries me about what he was eating before I got him. And I've changed him to whole foods. And it's gently cooked, obviously. But it really plays on my mind that he's eight years old, he's probably been eating kibble his entire life. And I am really trying to help to reverse some of that damage. Do you feel like for older dogs, it's they can still live a better quality life by making that shift later in life?
Absolutely. Absolutely. And that what that's what makes this medicine so rewarding at that what's a I always see that all the time. Even my older patients, when we change the food, we give them the right nutrient. It's remarkable how fast the body's able to recover.
And, and get better. I see that all the time.
It never fails to amaze me that how powerful diet is. Yeah, go on your fresh food or gently food diet or even raw sometimes, as we're running out of our time for today.
So we just wanted to leave with what are some top recommendations for pet owners that you have just quick takeaways that they can make some changes they can make today to improve their health.
Okay, very good question.
So today, and that is what I've always tell my clients when you leave this office, what do you do you go to grocery store and buy some, buy some fresh ingredients to prepare homemade food. Just try to change your dog's diet even tonight.
Okay, start include introducing fresh ingredients to your pets food. And stay away from kibble!
Well, thank you so much. I think we've all got really valuable information and changes that we can make today. Yeah, and I think this really helps pet owners to understand a little bit more and what they can do to help their furry friend and family member to have a healthier and longer life as well.
So thank you so much. Yeah, absolutely. My
pleasure. My pleasure.