Book Reviews: For Your Client's Library

The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active

Reviewed by Sophia Avgeris, DVM, DACVIM

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The Complete Healthy Dog Handbook: the Definitive Guide to Keeping Your Pet Happy, Healthy & Active includes some of the changes in veterinary medicine during the past 4 years. It has been published as a reference guide of dog care for the general public. The book is written in a question-and-answer format as if a client were in the examination room conversing with a veterinarian. It is easy to read and answers most common questions clients may have. This book allows rapid access to basic knowledge and answers general questions on health and diseases. The author provides personal insights and practical examples from her experience and discusses preventive health care, nutrition, and proper training (with emphasis on positive reinforcement). Practical information is provided for puppies and adult dogs on pet health, routine testing, vaccinations, and recognizing an emergency. The depth of information in this book ranges from basic (why dogs eat grass) to more technical (performing CPR). The material is provided in discrete sections and is highlighted by lists and tables that provide valuable references. There is some personal bias expressed throughout the book, such as the author's opinion on designer dogs, but other controversial subjects, such as feeding raw diets, are explained factually and without bias. Although some questionable medical recommendations are made, such as advising owners to remove the water bowl at night for a dog with polyuria of undetermined cause, the book is primarily filled with practical basic care and good medical advice. Throughout the book, the author emphasizes the importance of consulting with a veterinarian.

Chapter divisions are clear, and it is easy to quickly find information. The book is divided into 4 sections. The information is well stated, and references are made to other sections when more detailed information is contained elsewhere in the book.

The first section covers preventive health care and includes information on how to choose a healthy puppy or dog, with explanations on temperament and health problems in certain breeds. Chapter 2 in this section emphasizes how to keep a puppy healthy, including vaccines and nutrition. Basic training tips and common illnesses of puppies are discussed. Chapter 3 focuses on health in adult dogs and includes information on newer vaccination protocols, nutrition, and miscellaneous medical issues.

The second section focuses on common illnesses of dogs. Disorders are further organized into chapters and grouped primarily on the basis of body systems. Chapters on body system include skin, gastrointestinal, eyes and ears, musculoskeletal, cardiac, respiratory, endocrine, neurologic, and hematologic disorders. There are also chapters on parasites, behavior, cancer, and dying pets. The chapter on seriously ill or dying pets is thoughtful and well written. It offers questions and insights that should prove to be valuable to readers. Many resources are also listed in this chapter that should offer support and additional information to grieving clients.

The third section offers first-aid basics, a list of common poisons, and a guide of injuries and emergencies. The section on common toxins is brief but informative. A handy guide to aid readers in compiling a first-aid kit is provided in table form.

The fourth section offers a discussion of pet health insurance that is clearly written and comprehensive. This section should offer readers excellent comparative information on the various pet insurance options offered. Alternative and holistic medicine is briefl y described in the final chapters of this section. Also included is information on finding a veterinary specialist as well as a list of some Web sites dedicated to canine health.

Overall this is a useful, reasonably priced book for someone who is looking for a general guide to dog care. It is written in a conversational, straightforward style that is easy to read and comprehend. It provides a thorough and concise reference for pet owners from choosing a pet to understanding common diseases. This book can be recommended to any dog owner looking for a basic, comprehensive, and easy-to-understand reference written in an easy-to-read format.—By Betsy Brevitz. 496 pages; illustrated. Workman Publishing, 708 Broadway, New York, NY 10003. ISBN 978-0761-15412-9. 2009. Price $18.95.