I am a caregiver of animals, but I experience pet care from two different perspectives: from my professional role as a veterinarian and from my role as guardian to two French bulldogs known as Fanny and Manny. My mission as a veterinarian is to help companion animals attain health and maintain quality of life. In my other role, I get to enjoy the benefits of making an animal a part of my family by providing them with the daily maintenance and upkeep—the feeding and bathing, the daily strolls to the park, the petting and playing, the regular veterinary care, and the loving companionship that all contribute to their health and happiness.
Over the years I have seen major change in the quality of veterinary care available to dogs and cats. We are now in the high-tech age of veterinary medicine, where things like digital radiology, ultrasound, endoscopy, and laser surgery are common; where advanced diagnostics like MRI are now becoming readily available; and where veterinary practices are no longer one–or two–doctor clinics open five days a week, but multidoctor hospitals operating 24 hours a day. However, no matter how advanced the diagnostic or treatment abilities of veterinary medicine become, the basic care that you provide to your animal companion daily, including diet and nutrition, exercise, and emotional well-being, is the true foundation for their long-term health and quality of life.
We address many of these fundamentals of dog care, and do so in an innovative, educational, and fun way. For example, I have learned through the years that better nutrition has the biggest impact on your animal’s overall health.
This guide gives you a path to explore better nutrition using home-cooked diets as an alternative to the mass-produced, processed dog food most of us feed our pets. The recipes included are easy to make and delicious, if Manny and Fanny are any indication (they especially loved the meatloaf!).
In these pages you will also read about alternative and holistic veterinary medicine, including acupuncture and homeopathy, which can have wonderful complementary benefits to traditional veterinary care. Additionally, This guide/em> draws a link between the environment and health, and gives you strategies for choosing a path that avoids many of the chemicals and toxins that we voluntarily expose ourselves and our pets to on a daily basis. As a bonus, you will find all kinds of projects, from homemade shampoos and nontoxic house cleaners to homemade chew toys, which will delight and challenge the Martha Stewart in all of us.
Whether you currently have a canine companion or are considering inviting a dog to be a member of your family, This guide is a guide to pet care that offers a multitude of benefits and options. It will benefit your dog by giving you natural, alternative choices for canine care that should increase his or her health, well-being, and longevity, which in turn will benefit you because you will have a healthier and happier family member that will be a part of your life for a longer period of time. And as an added bonus, by following the recommendations contained on the following pages, you can have a positive effect on the environment that every one of us, including our animal and human companions, must share.
Our pets are always there for us, our constant companions in good times and in bad times. In return, we want to give them the best lives we can. We want to make healthy choices when it comes to their care and feeding, choices that are also good for the planet, just as we do for ourselves.
Our dogs Jordan, a golden retriever and yellow Labrador mix, and Gertrude, a little red hound and shepherd mix, were with us for nearly sixteen years. We adopted them when we were college students, and they kept us company as we worked late nights on design-school projects. They happily endured many moves during their long lives, from houses to apartments and back again and from city to country. Our dogs loved, inspired, and often frustrated us, and we loved them for it. Through the years, we always tried to make the best choices for their health and happiness. In the beginning, many of those choices were dictated by our student budgets. We bought whatever food we could afford, with no real thought given to ingredients. Our household-cleaning supplies were usually the ones we had become familiar with growing up. As the years went by, we became more concerned with our own health and that of the environment. We learned about the importance of organics and the dangers of pollutants in our food, air, and water. And so we worried about Jordan’s and Gertrude’s health as well. We began to read the ingredient labels on the dog food we were buying as conscientiously as the labels on our own food. When time permitted, we specially prepared our pets’ food, and we learned how to supplement their diets for optimum health as they grew old. We switched from the toxic household cleaners we had been using when we realized we weren’t going to change our dogs’ habit of licking wet floors or drinking from the toilet bowl.
This guide provides valuable information on how to care for your dog in a way that is good for your pet, good for you, and good for the environment. We offer tips on grooming, including recipes for shampoo, as well as nontoxic pest controls. We include information on good nutrition and give you the basic tools you’ll need to read the labels on commercial dog foods, as well as to prepare special homemade meals. We also discuss how to create a healthy home for your pet, including eco-friendly housekeeping options and tips on creating comfortable spaces just for your dog. We even have great ideas for recycling your old jeans and sweaters into comfortable dog beds and fun toys.
We hope This guide will educate and inspire you to think about your dog’s health, your own health, and the health of the planet. Whether you are a new or an experienced pet owner, whether your dog is young or old, the choices you make will have an impact on your canine companion’s health and happiness. Let your decisions bring your pets as much happiness as they have brought you!