Review: Natural Dog Care

Natural Dog Care.

I found this book in mint condition at a used book sale for $1. The books I’m prone to buy are ones that I think I may later use as a resource, and this one looked like it might possibly fit that bill. Natural Dog Care is written by Celeste Yarnall and was published in 1998. The book aims to provide a comprehensive guide to holistic and homeopathic care for your dog, including an extensive chapter on nutrition and even a chapter on using zodiac signs to heal your pet. OK. As I started to read about Yarnall, however, I began to think that I may have wasted a dollar.

Celeste Yarnall’s qualifications? She’s a champion cat breeder. That’s it. She’s not a veterinarian. She’s never actually studied animal medicine at a university. The dust jacket says she’s researched a lot on nutrition. Well, that’s nice, but I don’t know if that exactly qualifies you to give medical advice to dog owners. Throughout the book, she uses cat examples to prove that her methods work. It’s great that it works for your champion Tonkinese, but cats are quite different from dogs.

Yarnall spends an entire chapter telling you not to vaccinate your dogs, ever. I have heard varying opinions on this and some of what she says is intriguing, but I find it very hard to believe her when she uses shoddy and poorly cited research to back up her arguments. She also universally applies research from different disciplines to make her point.

The long chapter on “astromedicine” is really what pushed me over the edge. I know some people believe this, and if you do, that’s fine, but I think it’s especially silly in a book on canine health care. The fact that my dog is a pisces shouldn’t dictate what crushed herbs and crystals I slip into his food–if I’m going to use crushed herbs and crystals in the first place. (Also, what if I adopt a dog and don’t know his or her exact birth date? No astromedicine for you, pup. And it’s probably just as well.)

So, save your time on this one. I’m sure there are far better and more credible sources of information for those interested in holistic and homeopathic medicine for dogs.

Review: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

Dr. Pitcairn's Guide to Complete Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

I got a used copy of the older edition of this reference book, Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. The more I learn about dog food and even what humans eat in general, the more I want to just eat happy, pesticide-free plants.

Despite the lack of any medical degree, my mother has always espoused a general mistrust of traditional Western medicine, and I suppose I have a little bit of that in me. That said, I found Dr. Pitcairn’s book quite interesting.

Some of his recommendations sounded pretty kooky–the discussion of the unquantifiable and unknowable “life force” that permeates all things, which we must channel for our own benefit–but overall, I think this book provided a helpful overview of the alternative medicine techniques and therapies for dogs and cats.

The emphasis of the book is grounded strongly in preventative medicine. Pitcairn advises that the first thing we must do is create a healthy, non-toxic environment for our animals to live in (ourselves included!). This means keeping all chemicals at bay, when at all possible; shying away from plastics; any synthetic products that do not come directly from the earth, and so forth.

The second big emphasis on the book is understandably on diet. The more we learn about health, the more we understand the indelible link between what we eat and how our bodies perform. This is just as true for dogs as it is for us. Feeding your dog a bag of generic kibble may be cheap and convenient, but you’d just be filling your pet with animal byproducts, unnatural chemicals, and known toxins. This leads to the breakdown of a dog’s entire system, Pitcairn asserts. He pushes for a raw food diet, which is a serious commitment, but also gives advice for those who can’t or won’t make that kind of time.

I don’t know if there are any veterinarians in my area who practice alternative or homeopathic medicine, but I’m definitely interested in looking further into this topic.

Do you practice any alternative medicine or home remedies with your dog? Does your vet? What have you learned?