Pet nutritionist argues for raw food diet

Rodney Habib wants pets to have healthier meals but some veterinarians say raw food diets can be difficult to maintain

Rodney Habib in his store Planet Paws in Dartmouth, N.S. (Photo: Kendra Lovegrove and Zeina Jreige)

Rodney Habib, a pet nutrition blogger and store owner, took his campaign for raw food to veterinary technician students at the Maritime Business College in Dartmouth last week.

He thinks raw food will help make pets healthier and extend their lifespans.

Habib sells both prepackaged raw food and high-end kibble at Planet Paws, which is his pet store in Dartmouth.

Habib says if you make raw food by hand for your pet every day, they can live longer. This is because a raw food diet — which may consist of meats and vegetables — doesn’t include preservatives or artificial colours, flavours or chemicals. Raw food also doesn’t come into contact with heat, which breaks down nutrients within food, lowering nutritional value.

It’s only been two years since Habib has become a pet nutrition blogger. But since then, he has acquired more than 13,000 Facebook followers. Habib is not a certified pet nutritionist in Canada, but he did study in Lebanon and gained certification there.

“You have to understand there is a resistance between fresh feeding and veterinarians,” says Habib.

He says people often don’t take the time to plan their own meals in order to live a healthier lifestyle, so it’s a challenge to get people to do that for their pets. But he urges that people take the initiative.

However, one doctor of veterinary medicine says he sees a problem with prepackaged raw food.

Markus Stasiulis, owner of Vetwise Animal Hospital in Dartmouth, argues there are limited government regulations for pet food within Canada. This means companies can call their food holistic, natural or organic with those words being largely marketing slogans.

Rodney Habib’s pet food store Planet Paws. (Photo: Kendra Lovegrove and Zeina Jreige)

His main concerns with packaged raw food companies is they don’t always have veterinary nutritionists on staff, which can lead to the creation of unbalanced meals for pets.

On the other hand, Stasiulis believes there can be benefits to raw food made by hand.

If a pet has an allergy or if the owner can create a balanced meal by hand, “then that food potentially may be a good one for that particular pet,” he says.

Lousia Horne, the chief executive officer at PetFocus Veterinary Group in Halifax, says this topic is controversial and many vets have different opinions. She says there is no simple answer when it comes to the raw food versus kibble debate.

“The key thing is that pets receive a balanced diet and a safe diet that meets all their nutritional needs,” she says. Horne says there are many ways to go about this.

“Some people have been very successful with doing that with their own food and others choose to go with carefully monitored high quality purchased food,” says Horne.

Rodney Habib talks about raw food at the Maritime Business College in Dartmouth. (Photo: Zeina Jreige and Kendra Lovegrove)

Habib says some people are quick to question whether raw food hurts pets. But he argues that they have a false sense of security that feeding their pets processed food is safer.

Habib’s next goal is to visit the Atlantic Veterinary College of Prince Edward Island, which is a branch of the University of Prince Edward Island. He hopes that there he can further spread his message and get vets talking about the potential of raw food.



4 thoughts on “Pet nutritionist argues for raw food diet

  1. I’ve been feeding raw now for a couple years and made a huge difference in my dogs. Two of my dogs will be 13 & 14 years old come February, my other one just turned 2 yrs. I also dont believe in over vaccination or spay/neutering babies.

  2. I’ve also been feeding raw for over a year now and the difference with my Golden, Charlie, has been remarkable. Constant vet visits for ear infections, eye discharge problems, coat and overall energy has reinforced my decision to change over from kibble to raw. I was skeptical at first as most people are, but after seeing the difference it has made, I will never go back to kibble again. Highly recommend you give it a try 🙂

  3. I have 3 small dogs, ages 9, 10, and 12. All 3 have been on a raw diet with 5 or 6 different protein sources each day, for over 6 years now. They all gained muscle throughout their bodies, none of them have any lumps or bumps, no goopies in eyes or ears. They look and feel beautiful! Feeding raw was the best decision I have ever made for my dog’s health. I am very grateful to have had that option.

  4. Wish Rodney, Dana, Julia, Dr Becker, Drs Falconer and Blanco, Dr Pitcairn, Dr Knueven, Dr Dobias et al, had been around 45 years ago to teach me to listen to my heart. I always knew there had to be a better way and it is RAW!!!

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