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Dr. Mahaney's Book Review- I (Heart) My Dog

I (Heart) My Dog by the Editors of Women’s Day. 96pp. Filipacchi Publishing This user friendly read is filled with many chapters of useful information for current and potential pet owners. Plentiful creative photos capture the essence of a variety of canine specimens and personify the companionship dogs provide their human caretakers.  I personally related to many of the pictures, as the images prompted recall of the good times I have shared with pets both past and present.   The book opens with a series of entries on the topic “Choosing the Right Dog,” followed by “Training Your Dog,” and concludes with “Caring for Your Dog.”  These three main categories emphasize to dog owners the long term commitment they are making to another living creature, themselves, and society by accepting the responsibility of pet ownership.   As my integrative veterinary practice focuses on pet wellness by incorporating both a conventional (Western) and Chinese (Eastern) medical perspective, I was enthused to read the segments detailing many of the topics I emphasize to my clients.  My favorite segments include healthy versus unhealthy pet food ingredients, home prepared diets, obesity prevention, common canine toxicities, all-natural pet care, alternative health remedies, seasonal health tips, and pet first aid kit components.   One exceptional suggestion that should pique the interest of new and experienced pet parents is titled “controlling allergies with acupuncture.”  I see improvement in allergic skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis and other inflammatory dermatologic abnormalities through the use of acupuncture and other Eastern veterinary medical treatments.   There were many “why didn’t I think of that” moments where dog owners will pick up valuable information that easily translates into positive additions to any canine health plan.  Examples include the “While-You’re-Aware Pet Care Checklist” and “Traveling with Your Pet: 5 Essential Pet Health Records.”   As a veterinary medical care provider, there were inevitably areas where I did not agree or believe the book’s message could be better clarified.   It is recommended that “even if it’s an emergency, if the estimate is more than a few hundred dollars, get a second opinion”.  There are innumerable situations where appropriate emergency care is well over a “few hundred dollars.”  Time lost seeking a second opinion ultimately affects the pet’s health by not permitting the quicker establishment of accurate diagnosis and treatment.   It is also claimed that avocados, “every part of them, including fruit, pits, skin, and leaves are dangerous.”  Avocado skin, stems, leaves, and seeds contain Persin, a fatty acid-like compound that can cause localized irritation to the oral cavity and digestive tract.  In dogs, clinical signs such as salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea are typically mild and resolve with supportive care.  The avocado fruit is actually quite healthy and contains compounds that benefit the skin, coat, and other canine body systems.   Conflicting information is given about dog dental care.  One section suggests “brushing your dog’s teeth every three months or so will help prevent decay and keep his teeth healthy.”  Later, the direction is given to “brush your puppy’s coat and teeth daily to reduce the chance of skin and gum disease.”  The daily teeth brushing recommendation is most appropriate.  Frequent dental care reduces the risk of serious internal organ abnormalities caused periodontal disease and can decreases the likelihood anesthesia will be required for dental cleaning or tooth extraction.   I agree with the advice to avoid food additives, such as corn syrup, due to the myriad of health problems to which it can potentially contribute.  Unfortunately, the claim “like humans, dogs that consume too many sweets can be at greater risk for hypoglycemia, tooth decay, and obesity” is, in part, incorrect.  Excessive calorie consumption of can cause hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar), not hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).  Ultimately, chronically high blood sugar can exhaust the canine pancreas’ ability to produce insulin leading to insulin dependent diabetes.   Overall, I enjoyed reading the book, looking at the cute canine images, and even picked up a few suggestions that I may apply to my own dog’s health care and that of my animal patients.  As medical advice is being dispensed without credit to a veterinarian or other veterinary medical professional, the publisher may want to consider utilizing expert evaluation of the content when conveying accurate health information to dog lovers. Thank you for reading my article. To receive my next article via email, please press the “Don’t Miss a Blog Post” button on the right upper corner of this page. Copyright of this article is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article, pictures, or video in any format must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format. Visit for contact information.
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