Book Reviews: For Your Client's Library

Caring for Family Pets: Choosing and Keeping Our Companion Animals Healthy

Reviewed by Kimberlee Buck, DVM, DABVP

Caring for Family Pets: Choosing and Keeping Our Companion Animals Healthy is intended as a guide for pet owners. It contains excellent advice on choosing and caring for a variety of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and small mammals. The chapters provide valuable, realistic insights as to the pros and cons of various pets and the responsibilities of pet ownership. I was impressed that species-specific issues are not sugar-coated but are instead clearly addressed with information that would allow an average person to make an educated decision about owning a specific animal.

The chapter on behavior issues is extensive, covering normal behavioral development as well as the most common behavioral problems seen in dogs and cats. Proper early training and socialization are emphasized.

Another chapter addresses complementary and alternative medicine. This chapter explains the differences between veterinary and human practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine and strongly encourages pet owners considering such treatments to consult veterinarians trained in these modalities.

Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to develop a good relationship with a veterinarian early in their pet's life and to work with that veterinarian to provide their pet with the best care possible. Each chapter also includes a reading list for owners who desire more information.

I believe this book will be a positive addition to the lending library of any veterinary clinic. It encourages responsible pet ownership and supports the veterinarian-client-patient bond.—By Radford G. Davis. 225 pages. Praeger Publishers, 130 Cremona Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93117. 978-0-313-38527-8. 2011. Price $48.00.

When You Have to Say Goodbye: Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet

Reviewed by Suzanne Hetts, PhD

Overall, I really like When You Have to Say Goodbye: Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet. It is a little book and is designed for parents to read with or to their child before or after a pet dies. Its strengths are letting children know that it is OK to feel sad and express their emotions, encouraging children to talk about and memorialize their pets, and validating what a great gift loving a pet is. I also like the subtle reference to a military parent who may be deployed and absent. The illustrations are appealing as well.

A few minor concerns would be the use of the term “special medicine” for products used to help a pet die. Children are quite literal, and because there is a potential for a child to conclude that any medicine could help a pet or person die, this page should be accompanied by careful clarification when read to a child. Another concern is in the examples that illustrate what children and pets do together. I would have liked to see a few examples changed so that it does not imply that pets are always available to children and mirror a child's emotions. Pets need down time and quiet time away from children and people, and their emotional reactions are distinct from those of a child's.

Despite those issues, I believe this book is a valuable addition to any veterinarian's lending library. Talking to children about death is never easy, and this book can help facilitate that process. Some practitioners may even want to read the book with a grieving family while at the veterinary practice.—By Monica Mansfield. Unpaginated; illustrated. Beanpole Books, PO Box 242, Midway, FL 32343. ISBN 978-0-9831032-1-9. 2011. Price $8.95.