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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Dr. Mahaney's Pet Themed Book Reviews for 2012

Being a very visual person who is easily stimulated by the images I see on television and online, I read to calm my mind late at night before dozing off for some much needed rest. So, I’ve put together my top five (i.e., the only five I’ve actually fully read) pet-related books of 2012.

Not all of these texts were published in 2012, but they happen to fall within my spectrum of interest or my availability to engage in some pseudo-recreational reading.

1. Unsaid

by Neil Abramson

This touching, supernatural tale explores the bonds people have with each other and their pets from the perspective of a recently deceased veterinarian, Helena, who shares her insights as she observes the challenges and victories of her husband, David, who is left to tend to their shared canine, feline, and equine brood.

I greatly enjoyed the story, yet it is hard to turn off my clinical brain when recreationally reading (something I’m working on for 2013). I found myself occasionally scratching my head in wonder at some of the medical information. For example, one cannot actually determine the physical size of a heart chamber by merely listening with a stethoscope (auscultation). This can only be done via echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

Clinical perspective aside, it was inspiring to read about David’s developing relationship with the animal companions left to his care as a means of preserving the memory of his deceased partner.

2. Darwin's Dogs

by Emma Townsend

This intriguing work of nonfiction vividly describes the perspectives Charles Darwin had in developing his evolutionary theories; that human beings and animals share a common ancestry.

As a scientist and believer in man’s evolution from primordial beings, it was refreshing to read the vivid descriptions of the ways in which humans’ behaviors and physical characteristics could be tied to the realm of animals.

Thank you to Elizabeth Hanson from Troff for turning me on to this excellent book.

3. The Art of Racing in the Rain

by Garth Stein

As a means of temporarily escaping the realm of my daily work life treating dogs and cats, I am often drawn to books that don’t directly involve animals as their main characters. Reading this book went against my normal trend, but I found myself unable to put it down due to the dark and absorbing exploration of the relationship between owners and their canine companions, both in good times and in bad. We get to follow a dog named Enzo as he progresses through life observing the struggles faced by his human family.

Unfortunately for Enzo, his master, Denny, could have been more thorough in exploring treatment options for Enzo’s mobility compromising conditions. You see, Enzo has hip dysplasia, which causes him to experience joint inflammation (arthritis) and pain. Surprisingly, Enzo informs us that Denny’s veterinarian has informed them that “there was nothing else he could do except, some day in the future, perform expensive surgery to replace my defective parts.”

Fortunately, Enzo was prescribed anti-inflammatory medication for his discomfort. Yet, there are many additional means of keeping dogs like Enzo comfortable while taking smaller quantities or less frequent doses of pain medication, including nutraceuticals (supplements), acupuncture, massage, physical rehabilitation, etc.

4. Not Fit for a Dog (The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food)

by Michael W. Fox Ph.D, D.Scl, M.R.C.V.S, Elizabeth Hodgkins D.V.M., and Marion E. Smart D.V.M, Ph.D.

As a holistic veterinarian with a keen interest in the health benefits stemming from the foods we and our pets eat, I was very enthused to read this book. I believe in feeding myself, my dog, and my patients diets that are whole food based instead of highly processed. The highly processed options are filled with feed-grade ingredients with higher allowable levels of toxins, and potentially carcinogens, as compared to human grade foods. (See Are You Poisoning Your Companion Animal By Feeding Pet Grade Foods?)

Some of the information yielded in this book may (and should) shock pet owners who have been lulled into the belief that kibble or processed canned foods are truly the healthier and most appropriate options for our companion canines and felines. From pet food recalls to home prepared diets for dogs and cats, this book has many pearls of wisdom that are easily understood and highly applicable to pets owners worldwide.

5. Underwater Dogs

by Seth Casteel

Reading shouldn’t always be so serious;  it can also be fun and filled with eye-catching photos that keep you flipping the pages. Casteel’s creative images of menacing looking dogs diving underwater to retriever their beloved toy creates remarkably strong visuals that will make you look at your own dog from a new perspective.

Have you read any of the above books? What are your thoughts on these texts, subjects, or authors? And feel free to share your suggestions for pet-themed books you have read and/or that I should review in 2013.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Rocky’s favorite book by dchrisoh / via Flickr

Comments  13

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  • Oldie But Goodie
    12/18/2012 11:55am

    "All My Patients Are Under The Bed" by Dr. Louis Camuti is a personal favorite.

    There's a wonderful author from Kansas City who is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. He's written several heartwarming books about the critters that have touched his life. My favorite is "Another Cat At The Door." The books can sometimes be hard to find, but well worth the trouble.

  • 12/19/2012 06:42pm

    I share your fondness for ALL MY PATIENTS ARE UNDER THE BED. Dr. Camuti had a cats-only practice, hence the title. I ordered the other book you mentioned; thanks for the tip.

  • 12/19/2012 11:27pm

    I'm glad to hear your ordered one of the Charles Gusewelle books. So many are out of print, but worth the time to search for them. You can feel the tenderness he has for all critters.

    I've had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gusewelle and some of his family. They're definitely good animal people.

  • 12/22/2012 04:21pm

    Thank you for the suggestions.
    Dr. PM

  • 3 Good Books
    12/18/2012 12:09pm

    Three good books I have read this year and recommend are:

    The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant -- The story of the Vick dogs after they were removed from Michael Vick's dog fighting kennel. Everyone should read this -- excellent!

    I’m Listening With a Broken Ear by Vicky Kaseorg is a true story about real commitment to a difficult pet.

    Wallace: The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage and Championed Pit Bulls -- One Flying Disc at a Time by Jim Gorant

  • 12/19/2012 06:40pm

    THE LOST DOGS is terrific. Thoroughly debunks the mythology of the inherent viciousness of pit bulls. I learned from reading this book that pit bulls have been bred to be exceptionally desirous of pleasing humans, even by dog standards. And that Michael Vick and his "friends" (several of whom took plea deals and ratted him out) didn't just kill dogs that lost fights, but also dogs that wouldn't fight.

  • 12/22/2012 04:22pm

    Thank you for the book suggestions. I will check them out in 2013.
    Dr. PM

  • 12/18/2012 02:58pm

    Just found the "Chet and Bernie" series by Spencer Quinn. Bernie Little is a private investigator and Chet (just Chet, pure and simple) is his canine companion/partner/sidekick. The stories may be a bit far-fetched (sorry!) but the doggie characterization of Chet is spot(sorry)on and FUNNY! I like to read before bed late at night and these books had me giggling out loud at 2 a.m.

  • 12/19/2012 11:56am

    I'm a fan of the Chet and Bernie series -- I listen to them on audio books -- really funny!

  • 12/22/2012 04:22pm

    Sounds like a fun read. I will check it out for 2013.
    Dr. PM

  • blogs on behavior
    12/19/2012 07:26pm

    I would like to see more blogs on how to stop your dog from digging, barking, marking, and stuff like that. Here is a site that has what im talking about -http://www.bluedogblogs.com/dog-blogs.html

  • 01/06/2013 06:23pm

    I have not read the Jim Gorant book mentioned, but i did read and review his book Wallace. It is a terrific story about a very special Pitbull..yes Pitbull that changed people's mind about the breed, and helped save a marriage. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and recommend it.

    p.s Hi Dr. Patrick aka WeHo Vet

  • 01/07/2013 06:32am

    Hey Barbara! Great to hear from you!
    Thank you for commenting on this article.
    I hope to see you back again on my Daily Vet page (and perhaps sometime in real life.....which has been busier and busier......all good though).
    Dr. PM

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