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The Library

Food Pets Die For
by Ann Martin

This book should be read by every single person who is involved with pets in any way!

Since 1990, Ann Martin has been investigating the commercial pet food industry and exposing the truth about just how unregulated the whole thing is. When she titled her book "Food Pets Die For," she wasn't kidding.

Chapters include: The Case Against Commmercial Pet Food; Companion Animals in Pet Food; Mad Cow Disease and How It Relates to Our Pets; Sources of Meat, Carbohydrates, and Fiber; Hidden Hazards in Pet Food: Drugs, Heavy Metals, Pesticides, and Pathogens; Pet Food Regulations in the United States and Canada; Recipes and Other Helpful Hints for a Healthy Pet; Resources for Consumer Action.

Buy it, rent it, borrow it... just Read It!

Give Your Dog a Bone
by Dr. Ian Billinghurst

"The Practical Commonsense Way to Feed Dogs For a Long Healthy Life"

That subtitle pretty much says it all. Feeding dogs isn't rocket science, it just takes plain old logic. This is what Dr. B. emphasizes throughout his book.

The book begins by explaining the problems associated with commercial dog foods and badly prepared homemade diets. Thereafter, each food item used in the BARF diet is examined in depth. Finally, the good doctor brings it all together in his chapters on feeding puppies, adults and seniors; how much to feed; and switching over.

I do have a couple problems with this book. First of all, it's rather redundant. I believe Dr. B. deliberately repeats himself so to ingrain what he is saying in the minds of his readers. Not a bad strategy, but it can get annoying. Secondly, Billinghurst is a conventional veterinarian in every manner, besides nutrition. He advocates yearly vaccinations, and actually recommends regular dewormings "just in case" which is a very harmful practice. Even the conventional vets I know of would not give a dog toxic deworming drugs without a blood test to confirm the need! Thankfully, there are only a few short mentions of such practices in this book.

Another possible drawback could be the length of the book. With over 300 pages just on nutrition, it might be intimidating to those not inclined to read a whole lot. However, the book is well arranged, so a quick glance at the table of contents can point you to whatever topic strikes your fancy. And the one benefit of Dr. B. constantly repeating everything, is that it is possible to read the section on feeding puppies or adult dogs alone and put it to use. Of course, in order to get a full understanding of the BARF diet, you'll probably need to read the whole book.

One last thing to keep in mind is that this book is a product of Australia. There are a few topics that don't apply elsewhere in the world, and the diet itself is formulated according to the laid back laws of the outback. So don't be too shocked when you find no strict recipes for feeding dogs! Also, it should be mentioned that since writing GYDAB, Dr. B. has changed his views on feeding grains and is now suggesting totally eliminating grains from the diet.

Overall, this is a valuable book for anyone interested in canine nutrition in general, or the BARF diet in particular. I've never regretted my purchase.

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet
by Kymythy Schultze

This is an excellent book by another leader in the BARF movement. It is compact, easy to read, and covers everything you need to know to start feeding raw, without being longwinded. At just over 100 five by seven inch pages, this book is perfect for those who want to feed their pets a better diet, but don't have the time or desire to do extensive reading. Plus it's a steal at less than $9! The only drawback I see in this book is the lack of an index.

Topics covered include: species appropriate nutrition, foods to use and avoid, finding ingredients for the diet, traveling with the diet, switching over adults, weaning babies, and testimonies from pet owners who switched their pets. Some other nice features in the book are: an evolutionary timeline, which compares the domestication of dogs & cats against that of milk producing animals and modern grains; a chart listing sources of essential nutrients; a shopping list; a sample monthly menu; and a food diary to record your pet's progress in health.

Reigning Cats & Dogs
by Pat McKay

If you like the sounds of the BARF diet, but can't bring yourself to feed bones (even ground), this is the book for you. McKay's diet calls for a calcium supplement instead. Incidentally, there is only one supplement brand she recommends, and she just happens to sell it. Not that the entire book is just a big advertisement for her products, but when it comes to essential supplements, she only mentions her brand. Therefore, if you choose to follow her diet plan, your resources are limited.

On the plus side, the book in general is quite good. McKay discusses each food group, and certain foods within them, which I found very helpful. She also provides unique recipes for snacks, and a nice section on travel foods. Her writing style is straightforward and easy to understand, and there are amusing cartoons throughout the book. All in all, I think this book is a useful addition to any nutrition library.

The Nature of Animal Healing
by Martin Goldstein, DVM

A highly recommended study of holistic pet care, and a deal at only $16. This is a book no pet lover's library should be without.

Dr. Goldstein explains just what disease is, it's causes, and it's treatments. One hundred pages are dedicated to a list of common ailments, with nearly a third of that space taken to discuss cancer. Alternative therapies are covered, along with an entire chapter explaining the healing crisis, or detoxification. The more than thirty pages on vaccinations are an eye opener, as is the section on nutrition. Dr. Goldstein's writing style is down to earth, and his sense of humor shows through on every page.

Regarding his recommendations on diet, Dr. Goldstein seems to be in the process of changing his views on the subject. He states, "I've recently gone from wary endorsement [of raw foods] to real enthusiasm."

The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat
by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

Levy is one of the best known and respected authors on natural health and herbal medicine. Her knowledge stems from years of research and experience. She is passionate about her beliefs, and frowns on anything unnatural. While some of her views may seem a bit odd, the methods described have proven successful for many people and animals throughout time.

Topics covered in this book include: the natural rearing of dogs and cats, herbal medicine and the treatment of ailments, and the trouble with vaccinations.

A great buy for bookworms or those who are totally dedicated to the natural rearing concept. Those with more conventional views may be more satisfied with a book such as Richard Pitcairn's.

Natural Food Recipes For Healthy Dogs
by Carol Boyle

A simple diet book for dogs, based on feeding "people food." Nutrition experts generally agree that such a diet, gone unsupplemented, can be severely unbalanced, especially in calcium. However, many dogs seem to get by just fine on such fare, and there are certainly worse ways of feeding dogs than the Boyle diet. Her recommendations are not to simply feed your dog whatever you are having for dinner, but to cook healthy foods for the whole family, including the dog.

Included in the book are diet sheets for the young and old, and guidelines for working dogs and those with health problems. The remaining pages are mostly comprised of recipes, which are intended for both humans and dogs.

If a "people food" diet is what you prefer to feed, then you should read this book. Boyle's regimen is at least more balanced than such a diet haphazardly put together.

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD & Susan Hubble Pitcairn

This widely read book comes highly recommended by veterinarians and natural health enthusiasts across the country. Topics covered include: the trouble with commercial pet foods, how to prepare natural diets for dogs and cats, natural pet care, and a reference section on diseases and emergency care.

I just love the way Dr. Pitcairn begins his discussion on pet foods. His description of "Insta-Meal," scientifically formulated fodder for humans, makes you laugh and think at the same time. He puts you in your pet's shoes, er, paws, and hopes you see what a ridiculous tradition feeding our pets from a bag or can has become.

In the chapters on diet, Dr. Pitcairn discusses each food group, and offers recipes for supplementing commercial foods, for use as the main diet, quick recipes for when you run out of food, and special recipes for growth, pregnancy, hard exercise and stress, vegetarians, and health problems. To ensure balance, the recipes given have been analyzed in order to meet or exceed AAFCO standards.

The natural health chapters cover many interesting things, such as exercise, grooming, flea control, indoor and outdoor toxins, choosing a healthy pet, behavior, and more. Also discussed are the drawbacks to modern medicine, and alternative treatments that are safer and more effective. Vaccinations are covered in the reference section.

This is an ideal book for those who want to learn about every subject concerning pets in one place. No pet care library would be truely complete without it.

The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog
by Wendy Volhard & Kerry Brown, DVM

This review refers to the 1995 edition of the book.

This was the second or third book I read on natural pet care. At the time I found it very educational. However, I no longer consider it one of my favorites and rarely do I refer back to it. Of course, with over half a dozen other nutrition texts, plus the internet, I have many other resources to choose from. People who are just learning about holistic health will likely find this book as valuable as I did back then.

The topics covered are similar to those in other natural pet care books, including commercial vs. natural diets, general nutrition, vaccines and other toxins, alternative therapies, and diseases. The majority of the book is dedicated to nutrition. Volhard's diet, which she based on the work of Juliette de Bairacli Levy, has been extensively tested to ensure optimal nutrition and balance. Unfortunately, her recipe calls for a long list of supplements and is rather strict. This could scare some people away from feeding naturally, if they believe such a diet is their only option. On the other hand, it may be comforting to those who are paranoid about providing for their dogs a perfect balance of nutrients. It should be said that dogs on the Volhard diet are absolutely radiant with fine health, so there is certainly nothing wrong with her formula; it's simply a matter of preference.

If you are a bookworm, or you are looking for recipes for scientifically formulated dog food, I recommend this book. Otherwise, you can likely find what you want elsewhere, in an easier to follow format. Remember, of course, that there is something different to be learned from every book.