Dog Book Reviews (Nutrition, Health, Welfare, Behaviour)


BOOK REVIEW:  Animals Matter, by Marc Bekoff (2007) published by Shambhala, Boston & London, ISBN 978-1-59030-522-5

What did I like about this book?  I liked Bekoff’s gentle philosophy, his belief that all living creatures have an important part to play (not just humans) in this world and we should respect that.  Of course I only read this kind of book because I already share this belief, and probably all the animal experimenters, zoo keepers, farmers, and anyone else whose way of earning a living involves looking at animals as separate entities from human animals, will never see it. 
I have always leaned towards vegetarianism since the day I walked into the local market with my children to see the nice animals, and realised I had a pound of animal in my bag.  I was 29 and had never made this connection.  Now I am totally vegetarian and do not miss the meat I was in the habit of eating, although it took many years to cut it out altogether and the support of my vegetarian husband.  Vegetarianism requires you to break habits, but more importantly, form new ones.  There is a huge variety of wonderful vegetarian foods out there, and more and more people are experimenting with it.  Bekoff states that “Twenty vegetarians could live for a year on the amount of grains needed to provide meat for just one meat eater.”  That’s worth thinking about.
This book covers all the ways that humans “use” animals, (and particularly interesting is his chapter on researchers’ observational methods and the effects these might have on an animal population – a practice that is done with the best possible intentions of increasing our knowledge so that we are more aware of what these animals need), and questions the value of these uses.  The people likely to read it probably don’t need convincing, but everyone will find something about this subject that they didn’t realise, so a very worthwhile read.  Although written in 2007, it is still relevant.  It would be a wonderful school text book, but never will be.

The Pit Bull Placebo:  The Media, Myths and Politics of Canine Aggression, by Karen Delise

Published in 2007 by Anubis Publishing

ISBN 10: 0-9721914-1-0

ISBN 13: 978-0-9721914-1-8


This is a book I couldn’t put down.  Apparently the author researched for this book over 15 years, and I can believe it.  No statement is made without supporting references.  For me it was an eye-opener.  Delise has examined the way newspaper reporting in the US – and the public’s perception – of dog bite fatalities has changed in the last 150 years or so.  She shows how, with media hype, dog types given the greatest publicity for fatalities very soon become the most popular dogs for what she calls “substandard” owners, i.e. owners who want dogs who will increase their sense of power.  She shows how, in nearly all cases of dogs attacking humans, the treatment of these dogs (starved, chained, no social contact) is the underlying cause.  She outlines how the media currently ignores or gives minimum coverage to fatalities involving dog breeds not of “the pit bull type”.  She sites the amazing statistics for children who die at the hands of abusive fathers or father figures, against the comparatively small number who die from dog attacks.   This manipulated focus on breed of dog, rather than cause of behaviour, has two negative effects:  one, no one believes that other breeds can be dangerous, and every dog is capable of being dangerous;  two, the actual cause of the behaviour and thereafter proper preventative measures cannot be established.  Did you know that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that pit bulls’ jaws “lock”?  Delise dispels all the myths.  All politicians and all Council officials in charge of dog issues should read this book.  Frightening how easily we humans are led up the garden path.

“We are so cognitively disconnected from reality that we spray poisonous chemicals on the crops we feed to our children and rationalize such stupidity as the best and most efficient way to feed a hungry world and even to protect wildlife and biodiversity, and we are so emotionally disconnected from other animals that for economic reasons we justify incarcerating livestock in the cruel, intensive confinement systems of factory farming.”

P133 “Not Fit for a Dog”, (2009) Fox, Hodgkins and Smart.

We've just read 'Not Fit For a Dog' by M W Fox, E Hodgkins and M Smart (ISBN 978-1884956-83-6. 1-884956-83-1).
If you read this you will think carefully before you buy any cat or dog food in future, especially cat food! And more especially, dried food. (And you will think twice about what you put on your own table as well, probably!).
This is a well- researched book that exposes the truth about the manufacture of pet foods in the United States, and it's an easy read.
We have no reason to suppose it's any different in the UK, although there could be differences in regulations, and we will research this.
We'll keep you posted (or if you know any different, please put a comment in).

If you love your dogs and cats, READ THIS BOOK.



Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs

 Still on the dog food trail!

This one is Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs by Lew Olson
(isbn 978-1-55643-903-2, published in 2010 by North Atlantic Books)

This gives clearly set out information on raw feeding, but also home-cooked food. It starts out with a very interesting history of dog food - how easy it is for us to be taken in by the big food giants, both for human and for dog food! There is no condemnation here, just the facts, which speak for themselves.

The latter half of the book deals with nutrition for specific illnesses and diseases. Very helpful.

If you've tried everything the vet has to offer and nothing seems to be happening, it makes a lot of sense to look at your dog's diet. There has been a lot of debate recently on how much protein older dogs need. Perceived wisdom has it that they don't need as much, and that too much can cause renal failure. Olson states that research shows no relationship between high protein diets and renal failure (p145).

I found this book very helpful and enlightening.

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