Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog (Howell Reference Books)

Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog (Howell Reference Books)

A complete revision of a ground-breaking reference.

Designed to provide updated information found in the original book, as well as lots of new topics, and a new organization—this second edition is more user-friendly than ever!

Readers will get the latest on:

  • Healthful diets for dogs of every age and activity level
  • How to modify your dog’s diet to best meet seasonal needs
  • Natural ways to keep your dog healthy throughout all stages of life
  • How to care for a dog in poor health
  • The vaccine controversy—the pros, the cons and how to sort them out * Homeopathic remedies
  • Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, chiropractics and use of medicinal herbs

Finding nutritional data for dogs can be a difficult business–and while much of the information in Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog is presented by anecdote, there’s still plenty of worthwhile reading here. Aimed at dog owners that are already fairly committed to nonallopathic forms of health care for their pets, much of the book is based around author Wendy Volhard’s Natural Diet. The Natural Diet is fairly labor intensive, as Volhard is the first to admit, but she provides page after page of testimonials that credit the diet with improved temperaments, better activity levels, and exemplary physical health. Each ingredient in this diet is discussed in depth, so owners not ready to take the step of providing a complete diet from scratch can still learn about potentially valuable supplements, as well as what ingredients to look for in a commercial diet.

Beyond the dietary information provided, there are several chapters that give solid explanations of different types of health care available, including homeopathy, kinesiology, and the five-element theory. For those who still prefer allopathic care for their dogs, the chapters that cover standard lab tests are extremely useful, finally giving a layman’s guide for urinalysis, blood serum, liver function, and thyroid testing. A glossary defines various terms such as acidosis and hepatic, and each description is easily understandable, even by those with no medical background whatsoever. For puppy owners, the chapter discussing vaccinations is informative–Volhard questions the necessity of many we take for granted, and suggests several methods for lowering the required number for your pup.

Ultimately, the majority of this book is geared toward folks who are already committed to providing their pooches with alternative health care and homemade food. No matter how interesting the dietary concepts presented here, if you aren’t already a true believer it’s not likely that Volhard’s anecdotes will provide you with enough statistical proof to completely overhaul your dog’s way of life. –Jill Lightner

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Customer Reviews


86 of 88 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
A More Technical Approach To Holistic Veterinary Care, May 12, 1999

This is another one of those books that I recommend to everyone interested in holistic care for their canine companions. It’s somewhat more technical and scientific in its approach than the equally superb books by Pitcairn and Levy, but that shouldn’t put anyone off. Volhard begins with several excellent chapters on canine nutrition which include a very detailed section on supplements. For those determined to feed a commercial food, she provides info on how to read labels, which ingredients to look for and what to avoid. Next she addresses the common problems of allergies and toxins in our dogs’ environment, foods, and water, as well as drug and vaccine reactions. Instead of providing the reader with possible alternatives to vaccinating (such as homeopathic nosodes), she recommends a modified vaccine schedule using killed vaccines only for diseases endemic in the area in question and doing titer tests instead of routinely giving annual booster shots. While this is certainly superior to the traditional veterinary practice of needlessly subjecting dogs to potentially very harmful annual combo vaccines, I much prefer Dr. Pitcairn’s vaccination schedule for those uncomfortable with using nosodes.

Next, Volhard explains the basics of the canine digestive tract and thyroid and adrenal gland function. This is followed by a chapter on laboratory tests and how to figure out if your dogs’ lab results are within normal parameters. After this very technical chapter, Volhard dives into the rather controversial subject of kinesiology which is basically a form of biofeedback. If (like me) you’re the skeptical type, this will sound like a bit of hocus pocus to you. While I keep an open mind, I have yet to be convinced that with this method one of my dogs can tell me — through the transfer of energy — if she has a bacterial infection or needs extra liver in her diet.

Like virtually everyone interested in a holistic approach to dog rearing, Volhard recommends feeding a natural, homeprepared diet. Unlike many other homeprepared diets, the one she recommends has been clinically tested over a 12-year period, so you can rest assured that it is perfectly balanced. Volhard tells you exactly what and how much to feed as well as how to supplement (there are exact charts for dogs of different sizes). The drawback of this diet is that it must be followed to the letter. There is no room for experimentation here. Another problem is that, like Pitcairn’s diet, the Volhard diet contains too many grains. Dogs are carnivores, and while there’s nothing wrong with small amounts of whole grains in the diet (unless of course a dog is allergic to all grains), several cups a day are simply too much. Less grains and more pulped vegetables and raw meaty bones would be healthier and more biologically appropriate.

There are several short, very basic chapters on herbal medicine, homeopathy, and other alternative therapies (if you’re interested in these subjects, you’ll definitely want to read more elsewhere). Finally there is a simple but useful reference guide to certain diseases and possible remedies, profiles of all the amino acids in dogs, and a brief resource guide.

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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is THE HOLISTIC PET BIBLE, August 25, 1999
By A Customer

This book is filled with essential information every pet owner should know. My own copy is highlighted on almost every page as it has become an invaluable reference! Time and again nutritional and health related questions have been answered from these pages. Knowledge is key to keeping your pet healthy. Even if you don’t fully embrace holistic methods, there is so much information about commercial pet food and signs of vitamin deficiencies that is a must for the informed and caring pet owner. Nutrition and a fresh food diet(along with a mix of Innova dry food) has kept my pet cancer free after having a tumor removed two years ago. Nutriton does make a difference and this book is a great source of information. Don’t miss it!

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good reference material for non-holistics too, June 14, 2003
This review is from: Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog (Howell Reference Books) (Paperback)

This book is NOT just for people who believe holistic is the only way to go! So although many reviewers write from that perspective, I strongly suggest that people who love traditional medicine consider it because it provides clear explanations of how a dog’s system works, the functions of the organs, and what the various nutrients do in and for the dog. It also provdes an excellent explanation of each section of a blood test or urine test and what the results *mean.* And, it has simple but very complete charts in the back which cover various things from *both* the traditional and the holistic points of view in causes and treatments.

What made me respect this book was that they offer traditional medicine causes and effects, tests and medications, treatments and solutions … as well as holistic ones. So, both “sides” can get plenty out of it, and perhaps learn something from the beliefs of the “other side” too to get a much more balanced picture of what is going on with their dog.

It is not as simple as most of the consumer oriented books, but it is also not as complex as reading the veterinary medicine web sites. It definitely provides more detail than you may be accustomed to in a “pet health” book.

It provides a good base to research from so you can go look at traditional and alternative medicine web sites and know what the heck you’re looking for.

If you don’t care for the diet they recommend, or any other “holistic” parts, you can easily ignore them. It’s a good reference book, and if you are the type who wants to be really involved in your dog’s care and want to know more than what the vet told you, then get this book. You can find out what you need to know in order to ask the vet good questions and be able to insist on good answers (not just a quick answer, but one that means something to you).

I highly recommend this book whether you prefer traditional, holistic, or a blend of veterinary medicine styles.

Whatever you do, though, if you think your dog has a problem, find a darned good vet and go there now. If you feel uncomfortable or confused, or hope there are more options out there, get a second opinion from another primary vet, or ask for a referral to a specialist. Any good vet will gladly refer you to a specialist regardless of whether he thinks you really need one. You are your pet’s only “human” voice. Be in charge and be responsible and don’t give up until you have the information you need.

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Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable

  • ISBN13: 9780547232829
  • Condition: New
  • Notes: BRAND NEW FROM PUBLISHER! 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Tracking provided on most orders. Buy with Confidence! Millions of books sold!
The human/animal bond is never stronger or more tender than when your dog’s muzzle turns gray and the spring in her step begins to diminish. After spending the better part of a decade with this beloved member of your family, making sure your canine friend ages comfortably, contendedly and well is a natural priority.  And no one knows how to ensure healthy aging better than the renowned faculty of the Tufts Cummings Veterinary School, who treat more than eight thousand older dogs annually.  

Good Old Dog brings their renowned clinic into your living room, providing you with essential advice on nutrition, health, and caretaking to see your dog through the golden years.

Our dogs are living longer than ever thanks to enormous advances in medical treatment and a highly evolved understanding of what they need to thrive. No one knows this better than the faculty of the Cummings Veterinary School at Tufts, who treat more than 8,000 older dogs annually. Their philosophy of caring for aging dogs combines empathy for each individual dog and owner, a comprehensive approach to patient care, cutting-edge science and technology, and a commitment to innovation. Good Old Dog brings their renowned clinic into your living room, arming you with essential advice to see your dog through his golden years.
 
Featuring
• Nutritional advice—not every senior diet is right for every senior dog
• Emphasis on treating conditions common to older dogs so they live longer
• How to evaluate complicated procedures and decide what’s right for your dog
• The cost of caring for an older dog and how to shoulder the burden
• How to identify cognitive decline and how to manage it
• Advice on creating a healthy and comfortable environment
• How to determine when “it’s time” and how to cope with the loss
• And much more
 
Common Questions About Aging Dogs Answered in Good Old Dog

Q: Regarding a dog’s age, is it really seven human years for every year lived?

A: Not exactly. For a medium-size dog who weighs between twenty and fifty pounds, yes, that’s about right. For a large dog, one who weighs more than ninety pounds, every year of life is closer to the equivalent of about every eight human years. For a small dog under twenty pounds, each year is the equivalent of about six human years. That’s why small dogs, on average, live longer than large ones. They “use up” fewer years with each year of life.

Q: If I choose a dog food that says “senior” on the label, I’m giving my older dog the nutrition he or she needs, right?

A: Who knows? “Senior” is a marketing term, not a specific nutritional term, so it means whatever the manufacturer wants it to mean. Some “senior” dog foods are high in calories, some are low in calories, and some have a nutrient composition that is not well balanced for all older dogs, with levels of sodium, protein, and other ingredients all over the map. The only way to know if a food is right for your geriatric dog is to make sure there’s a sentence on the package that says the food is appropriate for maintenance, not for growth or gestation and lactation.

Q: If a dog has arthritis, she or he will limp, right?

A: Not necessarily. If the arthritis is in the same spot on both hind legs or both front legs, the dog may waddle or shuffle. That is, the gait will look symmetrical, unlike a limp. But waddling and shuffling are not normal ways of walking, and a dog who is not walking normally should be taken to the vet for an exam.

Q: Why is it that dogs with cancer who are on chemo don’t go bald?

A: It’s rare for a dog on chemo to lose hair because dogs get lower doses of chemotherapy for their size. In people, the aim with chemo is to try to cure the cancer. In dogs, it’s to extend life but not rid the body of the malignancy. Since chemo can be so debilitating, with side effects that include nausea, diarrhea, and infections, and since an older dog with cancer will lose not decades of life but only a few years at most, the veterinary community feels it is not right to put such a dog through a medical regimen that will destroy the quality of life while affording the animal only a few extra months to a couple of years.

Q: Why is it that you never hear of dogs dropping dead of a heart attack?

A: Dogs don’t get heart attacks, generally speaking. They get heart failure, a progressive disease that takes its toll over time. Fortunately, much can be done to forestall the effects of heart failure and grant an affected dog several more years of good-quality life.

Q: My ten-year-old dog doesn’t come when I call him anymore. Is he falling prey to age-related dementia?

A: It’s hard to say. He might just be going deaf. Dementia is a bit tricky to diagnose in dogs because they are unable to communicate in words that they don’t hear or can’t see as well or have other declines that could be mistaken for dementia. Good Old Dog has a checklist with constellations of symptoms that, taken together, indicate when you should take your dog in for a neurological evaluation to see if he has the canine version of Alzheimer’s. New methods to treat the disease are emerging, and the sooner your dog is correctly diagnosed, the better chance you have of stalling any cognitive decline.

Q: A dog will let you know when “it’s time” to put him down, right?

A: Not necessarily. Many conditions in older dogs that look like “this is the end” are very treatable. While we believe that euthanizing a dog who is in constant pain and has no quality of life left is a responsible and loving thing to do, you should never make a choice to euthanize without first taking him to the doctor for a professional workup. We’ve delivered the good news to many dog owners that, despite their fear, the dog’s time has not yet come.


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Customer Reviews


38 of 38 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Well written with some exemplary advice, September 30, 2010
By 
Stephen M. Lerch (Elkton, MD United States) – See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)
  
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)
  
(REAL NAME)
  

This review is from: Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable (Hardcover)
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Good Old Dog is a great resource for people who have an aging 4 legged friend of the canine variety.

While a great resource, it is NOT comprehensive. This is, of course, not a negative as the book is expertly written and researched and includes plenty of “real dog” stories to help get some of the finer points across that may not be relayed easily during the more fact filled descriptions of issues. But it deserves to be pointed out; there are certainly many issues for aging dogs that just aren’t covered.

What is included are the top issues/problems/concerns that the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, which is one of the largest residency programs for Veterinary Medicine in the USA, see on a regular basis. According to the back of the book, they see 26,000 cases annually, 8,000 of which are for elderly dogs. I would say if they claim these are the top issues and concerns a person should have for an aging dog, they are likely right.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive of issues facing aging dogs, there really doesn’t seem to be many if any out there.

Did you know that an aged dog’s nutritional needs differ from those of a middle aged dog? Do you know how to spot the signs of aging and do you know when you should begin looking at when to change the diet to one more suited to an older dog? After reading this book you will.

Also included are chapters on joint care, cancer discussions, kidney failure, heart disease and dementia. In the more general care area there are chapters on changing the diet of an older dog (including wonderful information on supplements), what to anticipate in caring for your aging dog (an ounce of prevention…), how to keep your aging dog stimulated without over exerting themselves and finally, dealing with the decision most dog owners must eventually make, putting your beloved friend/companion/pet to sleep. For the last part, putting your dog to sleep, they don’t really sugar coat it but they do give you some very, very fine pointers on how to know when the time to make the decision has come.

The copy I have being a pre-release copy (“advance reading”), there is one thing I sorely miss from the pages of this book; an index. There is, according to the table of contents, a planned index of all the information included in the book. As this book paints itself as a reference for “keeping your aging dog happy, healthy and comfortable,” it would be nice to have a way to quickly flip to the index and try to find the pertinent sections of the text this way. I give the 5 star review with the hope that this books includes a comprehensive index. I enjoyed reading this book and the invaluable information it provides, enough to actually purchase the final release for the index alone.

While I don’t currently have an elderly dog (my current dog is an 8 month old pup), reading through this book and applying what I’ve read to what we experienced prior to having our 14 year old Shetland Sheepdog put down last year, I kind of wish I had had this book then. Moving forward with my new puppy, I will be sure to keep hold of this book for the future and keep my eye out for signs of old age (which hopefully won’t be fore quite a few years from now!).

Also, it cannot be stressed enough; if you suspect your dog is sick, don’t rely solely on any book for a diagnosis; get your dog to an animal hospital or your veterinarian RIGHT AWAY. This book is meant as a resource and supplement to REGULAR health check ups for your companion, not a replacement for proper veterinary care.

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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars
Mixed Review, November 2, 2010
By 
M. Hill (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)
  

This review is from: Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

Anyone interested in this book is clearly concerned about proper care of their senior dog. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing my life with dogs for many years, and have recently been reading almost everything I can about them. What can we do to make our canine companions later years as comfortable and healthy as possible? Does the book assist in that goal? Yes and no.

Although a book on senior dogs is needed, this one is not comprehensive, rather it is an over-view. Perhaps it is impossible to cover everything in one volume, but this isn’t a lengthy book. I felt a number of areas were not adequately covered. Perhaps simply stating the book is a beginning point is sufficient.

I found the chapter on proper canine diet, confusing. I did learn to look for the Statement of Nutritional Adequacy and to look for an indication that the food went through animal feedings tests using Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) procedures, rather than it simply met established nutritional standards. Clearly it is important to know the food was actually fed to dogs in a test environment.

There is additional information regarding these standards which adds value to the chapter but, the information about lack of standards in the term –senior– dog food seemed to contradict the author’s solid faith in prepared food and question the motivations of the manufacturers.

Apparently not only is there no legal definition for the term – senior — but the ingredients may be unhealthy and actually cause problems to a dog previously doing fine on their old chow. The author mentioned increased sodium levels, higher fat and higher calories all inadvertently putting the senior dog at risk after their well intentioned human switches them to a diet presumably designed for the aging canine.

Then there is the issue of by-products found in dog food. The author states that by-products are considered delicacies, like sweetbreads. Yes, some by-products are considered delicacies, but I doubt those bits are finding their way into the dog chow. When the term by-products is used in animal food it can mean anything from bird beaks and feathers to who knows what else. Books by holistic veterinarians focus much attention on how the life span of dogs is decreasing rather than increasing and that is largely attributable to both prepared diets and environment. It isn’t that all prepared food is bad, but the lack of concern about by-products seemed at best, odd. So, I had difficulty reconciling the author’s opinion about by-products while pointing out the lack of standards and then expressing faith in the chow.

Another stumbling point — the author explained that adding a few precious months to our dogs life actually equates to a much longer period in dog time. Apparently this point is so important he mentioned it several times in the book. Well, it may be true that three months to us is much longer to a dog, but we live in people time and to be blunt, dog guardians are paying for expensive treatments with people money not dog treats. It is noted that just because a treatment exists doesn’t mean it needs to be done – and that is an important statement, and one not mentioned nearly enough particularly when the patient is a senior dog. Dog guardians are not always informed of that fact.

One of my dogs is currently terminally ill. When she was diagnosed the oncologist suggested chemotherapy although it is proven to be ineffective with this form of cancer. How do I know this? It was clearly stated on the biopsy report. I asked why the ineffective treatment was being proposed and was told because it is the only thing available.

I imagine it is difficult facing a client and being unable to provide any shred of hope. But people have a right to the full picture when making these decisions, difficult as it may be to hear. Whether I want to spend many thousands of dollars to add three months to the life of my precious senior dog is a personal decision, but it should be made with full knowledge that there is no assurance I will gain even a few months, and that the cost of the additional time includes many of my dog’s remaining days spent in the veterinarian’s office, stressed and perhaps in discomfort.

The author mentions saving for future medical costs and having insurance, but that’s not enough. I’ve encountered expensive procedures that insurance will not cover, and, when they do pay, often it is a small portion of the charge. For example, they paid nothing for knee surgeries on my dogs and ten years ago one of my dogs swallowed part of a presumably safe dissolvable dog bone treat. It became lodged in her throat. She needed an emergency endoscopy to locate it and either pull it back out or push it into her stomach. The charge was close to a thousand dollars and the insurance would cover only 0 of it.

I increasingly…

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars
Very comprehensive & quite useful, September 24, 2010
By 
William Merrill “eclecticist” (San Antonio, TX United States) – See all my reviews
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(REAL NAME)
  

This review is from: Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What’s this?)

There’s a whole galaxy of books about dogs, but the “senior years” have been relatively neglected. This excellent book, Good Old Dog, remedies that situation. Written by the faculty of the Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, it covers just about every aspect of aging dogs’ lives you could possibly want to know about. There are chapters on nutrition, arthritis, dementia, cancer and much more. I particularly appreciated the following areas:

The caution about dog foods branded with “senior” in the name was very good. Also, the information in that chapter about dogs’ caloric intake, how to read the labels on dog food packages, and weight control was as good as any I’ve read in a dog book, whether about aging dogs or otherwise.

Since my dog can’t easily or always tell me when she’s not feeling well, it’s especially useful to know about indicators or signs to look for to tell whether she may be having joint problems, kidney issues, or whatever. Good Old Dog is great about giving a lot of tips along those lines.

The chapter on “End-Of-Life Decisions” was a bit hard for me to read, as I just lost Lady, a 15 year-old companion, a few months ago. However, I wish I had read this before she was put to sleep. In her final months, I got very tired of hearing two comments from well-meaning friends, “You’ll know when it’s time” and “she’ll tell you when it’s time.” In my case with Lady, neither of those was true. Fortunately I got more practical advice from vets, but the chapter on this subject in Good Old Dog provides a great set of criteria to consider regarding the dog’s quality of life, things I will definitely consider the next time I have to go through that awful decision again.

One of the best things about the book is that it isn’t just a dry recitation of medical knowledge. The book is filled with true stories of older dogs and their families that made it much easier for me to relate to the topics, and made the reading more interesting in general.

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