In National Geographic’s comprehensive and easy-to-use illustrated pet reference, a renowned veterinarian offers expert advice on common health, behavior, and training for cats, dogs, and other domestic pets.
Combining first aid, medical reference, and tips and tricks of the trade, here is your go-to-guide for at-home animal care, focusing on dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and more! Building on more than two decades of veterinary experience, Dr. Gary Weitzman covers topics including upset stomachs, house training, physical ailments and behavior tips. The president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and former co-host of the weekly NPR show The Animal House, Dr. Gary brings a wealth of experience to essential veterinary questions, revealing basic first-aid techniques, when a trip to the vet is necessary, dietary recommendations, simple training techniques, necessary supplies, essential behavior cues, and much more.
The National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness is subtitled The Veterinarian's Approach to At-Home Animal Care. This is a big, comprehensive book that covers both physical health and behavior. The book's end flap includes the description "the written equivalent of a veterinary house call," and that gives a great idea of the book.
The book is divided into six sections:
Animal Happiness and Responsible Pet Ownership
Everyday Pet Health and Nutrition
Pet Behavior and Training
Emergencies and Disaster Preparedness
Common Health Issues
Diagnostics, Aging, and Holistic Medicine
I knew that I would like this book because I am a lifelong animal lover. I currently have a small dog (Abby, who sometimes blogs here!) but also have had and loved cats and birds.
As a pet rescue advocate, I really appreciated the author's recommendations for adopting a pet as a family member. He also talks at length about how to choose a pet that fits in best with your family, looking at factors like exercise needs, personality, shedding, grooming needs, barking. I love that he extols the value of adopting an adult dog -- "Most people want puppies, but you shouldn't write off an adult dog. Most adult dogs already know or quickly pick up house training, and many older dogs are past the destructive puppy phase" (p. 27). He even gives specific help with looking at online adoptions, rescue groups, etc.
This is very much a book for the whole family and I think parents will particularly find features like Pet Safety with Babies and Toddlers and Pet Chores by Age to be helpful.
I really like the way the author starts at the very beginning, with choosing a pet, buying pet supplies to keep your cat or dog safe and comfortable, and then moving on to exercise, diet, and preventative care including fleas, ticks, etc.
There are great tips about house training, crate training, and socialization. I loved the socialization suggestions, like "Make it a goal to try to introduce your puppy to 100 different people, places, sights and sounds in the first 100 days you have him. Start with this list and add to it as you go along" (p. 196). What a great idea -- a wonderful way to bond with your pet while socializing him or her!
The section on adult dog behavior is great. It includes information on "how to speak dog," interpreting what your dog is trying to communicate -- not just giving commands without listening. There are great, practical, specific solutions to issues like barking, chewing, jumping up, etc. My little dog Abby can be a barker, and I found the tips on barking helpful. I especially found this point interesting (and possibly relevant here): "Add independence training to your dog's curriculum. In other words, train your dog to entertain himself sometimes, even when you're around. Pure reliance on you will make your dog very susceptible to anxiety when you're not around" (p. 217).
Being a National Geographic book, the photos are, as expected, beautiful! There are great, helpful pictures on every page of the book. They add a lot to how enjoyable this book is to read.
I recommend this book very highly for a first time pet owner, for anyone adopting a new pet, or for a pet owner who wants to learn more about day to day behavior training and first aid. It would also be a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves cats or dogs!