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

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Rodale, Jun 15, 1995 - Pets - 383 pages
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
Second Edition

Now completely updated and revised, this is an expanded edition of the classic natural pet-care book by veterinarian Richard H. Pitcairn and his wife Susan Pitcairn-- both renowned specialists in chemical-free nutrition, treatment and natural healing for pets. Written with the warmth and compassion that have won the Pitcairns a nationwide following, this guide will help you select the most compatible dog or cat for your own lifestyle-- and show you how to provide the very best in companionship, healing, nutrition and lifelong care. Since its publication more than a decade ago, the Pitcairns' book has become the definitive guide to a natural lifestyle for dogs and cats.

A comprehensive, thorough reference, this pet-lover's companion will tell you:

* How to choose a healthy animal
* Dozens of recipes for delicious, economical, healthful pet food-- with completely updated tables, charts and nutritional guidelines
* How to give your pet a checkup
* What's really in pet foods-- and which ones to avoid to ensure your pet's best health
* Special diets for special pets
* A guide to handling emergencies that includes techniques for external heart massage, artificial respiration and control of bleeding

An in-depth, alphabetical "Quick Reference" section that gives specific instructions for preventing, diagnosing and treating a wide variety of animal diseases and disorders-- from abscesses, allergies and behavior problems to vaccination risks, weight problems and worms. The Pitcairns' approach is drug-free and holistic-- with special attention to homeopathic and alternative remedies and treatments.

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User Review  - kcdylan697 - Overstock.com

This is a book that I had seen at our local natural vitaminherb store. I couldnt afford to buy it there. When I stumbled on it here I couldnt believe this was the same volume at a super price. Excellent reference book to have on hand for all pet owners. Read full review

Outstanding resource!

User Review  - calicobird - Overstock.com

I checked out this book from my library four times in the last year so I thought Id better just buy my own copy... Its invaluable. Fantastic info about creating a healthy raw meatcooked grains diet ... Read full review


We Need a New Approach to Pet Health Care
What Do They Really Put in Pet Food?
Try a Basic Natural DietWith Supplements
EasytoMake Recipes for Pet Food
Nutritional Composition of Recipes for Dogs
Special Diets for Special Pets
How to Care For a Sick Animal
How to Use the Quick Reference Section
Anal Gland Problems
Appetite Problems

Kitten Feeding Schedule
Helping Your Pet Make the Switch
Exercise Rest and Natural Grooming
Common Ingredients in FleaControl Products
Creating a Healthier Environment
Choosing a Healthy Animal
Behavioral Patterns and Congenital Defects in Dogs
Behavioral Patterns and Congenital Defects in Cats
Emotional Connections and Your Pets Health
Responsible Pet Ownership
Tips for Special Situations
Coping with a Pets Death
Holistic and Alternative Therapies
Behavior Problems
Bladder Problems
Breast Tumors
Ear Problems
Lyme Disease
Skin Problems
Upper Respiratory Infections

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About the author (1995)



"Why don''t you take care of this one?" my colleague asked me, with the look of someone about to unload an unwelcome problem. He pointed through the door to a little middle-aged dog sitting forlornly on the examining table. If his coat had ever been sleek, soft, and healthy, it was no more. Obviously, his hair had been falling out for some time, revealing large greasy patches that had an unpleasant odor. Even his spirits were low. Unfortunately, I''d seen cases like his all too often.

Waiting nearby were the dog''s equally dejected guardians, an aging couple who had "tried it all" and still cared enough about their little companion to try once more. The dog''s hospital record showed a long history of treatments--cortisone shots, medicated soaps, ointments, more shots, more salves--none of which brought any noticeable improvement.

"The poor little guy is just so miserable, doctor," began Mrs. Wilson anxiously. "We would do anything if we thought it would help."

It didn''t take me long to decide that it was finally time to step off the beaten path and try out a new nutritional approach to this kind of case, an idea that had been brewing in my mind for some time. We were at a medical dead end and there was nothing to lose. But more importantly, I knew there was a good chance that what I had in mind might work. As I examined Tiny, I explained to the Wilsons why I thought an improved diet was their animal''s best chance for recovery.

"Skin problems like his are probably the most common and frustrating of the conditions we try to deal with," I told them. "Because the skin is such a visible area of the body, it can show the first signs of underlying problems, particularly those caused by inadequate diet. The skin grows very rapidly, making a whole new crop of cells about every three weeks. It needs a lot of nourishment, so when the diet lacks what''s really needed, the skin is one of the first tissues to break down and show abnormalities like the kind we see here in Tiny."

As we went on talking about the effects of diet and the shortcomings of highly processed pet foods based on low-quality food by-products, the Wilsons saw that a change could make a big difference. So we worked out a suitable feeding program for Tiny, emphasizing fresh natural foods.

Starting now, Tiny would eat meat, whole grains, and fresh vegetables. In addition, the Wilsons would give him several supplements rich in nutrients important to the health of the skin as well as to the rest of the body-- brewer''s yeast, vegetable oil, cod-liver oil, kelp, bonemeal, vitamin E, and zinc. I also recommended that they bathe Tiny occasionally with a mild, non-medicated shampoo to help remove irritating, toxic secretions from his skin without burdening his body with harsh chemicals.

During the next weeks, my thoughts often went to Tiny, wondering how he was doing on this new treatment. A month after their first visit, the Wilsons returned to show the results of the treatment. Tiny was like a new dog.

"You wouldn''t believe the difference!" Mrs. Wilson exclaimed. "He runs around and plays like he''s a puppy again." Tiny was indeed full of life, jumping around excitedly on the examining table. His coat was much healthier, and hair was rapidly filling in the previously bare spots.

It was very rewarding to all of us, but most of all to Tiny. For the Wilsons, there was the added benefit of realizing that their dog''s health was now in their control and that keeping him well did not require monthly injections of cortisone or other medications.


Tiny''s case was one of my first clinical attempts to apply the results of a long learning process concerning the vital role of nutrition in health. Now, after 27 years of seeing successes such as this with improved diet, the essential importance of nutrition in restoring health is obvious to me.

I did not, however, always approach cases in such a manner. My veterinary school training in nutrition had included little more than the admonition: "Tell your clients to feed their animals a good commercial pet food and to avoid table scraps." Beyond that, nutrition just wasn''t considered an important part of our education. I accepted this attitude at face value, and after graduation I set out to conquer disease, armed with the usual arsenal of drugs and surgical techniques gleaned from my years of schooling.

Faced with the day-to-day challenges of my first job in a busy mixed practice (small and large animals), I soon learned that many diseases simply did not respond to treatments as I had been told they would. In fact, it often seemed that what I did to help mattered very little. I was like a bystander at the battle for recovery--doing a lot of cheering and occasionally making a contribution of sorts, but often feeling ineffectual.

So I tried to make sense of what I saw, and gradually several basic questions arose: Why do some animals recover easily, while others never seem to do well, regardless of which drugs are used? Why do some animals in a group seem to have all the fleas and catch all the diseases going around, while others are never affected? I knew there must be some basic understanding that I just didn''t grasp about the ability of an animal''s body to defend and heal itself.

When you ask a question long enough and deeply enough, life seems to provide the opportunity to find an answer. Soon a job offer as an instructor at a veterinary school was dropped in my lap. Always eager to be in a climate of learning, I immediately accepted.

Once I was back in academia, I decided to take a course or two myself. The next thing I knew, I was a full-time graduate student in veterinary immunology, virology, and biochemistry. Surely here, I thought, I can learn the real secrets of the body''s defense systems. And so I set about studying and researching various problems, particularly the body''s immune response to cancer.

Some five years and a PhD degree later, I found that the answers to my questions still eluded me. Though I had acquired an even greater wealth of factual information about the mechanisms of immunology and metabolism, I still did not feel a sense of real insight about the issues that concerned me.


I had begun to realize what was causing me to feel baffled by conventional veterinary medicine. Knowledge was fragmented, and specialists clung to narrow academic disciplines. For example, one group of immunologists would hold a particular viewpoint on disease mechanisms and a second group, a different view. It seemed that no effort was being made to reconcile the opposing positions. And then there were the microbiologists, the virologists, the biochemists, the pathologists, and a host of others, all of whom tended to see things through different sets of filters! Our research aims had become so narrowly defined and carried out that we were missing the whole picture. I didn''t fully realize it at the time, but I felt, somehow, that what we really needed was a holistic approach to the problem of disease.

As a result, I started doing two things that were decisive and have continued to define my style of operation ever since. One was to read broadly in many fields and from many sources to get a larger scope of concepts and ideas. The other was to experiment with new ideas that made sense to me by trying them out on myself.

I made it a first priority to learn more about nutrition. After some self- directed study, I was convinced that nutrition was a very significant factor in maintaining health and treating disease. Therefore, it amazed me to find that the indifference to nutrition that prevailed when I was a student in veterinary school was still in place. There was a wealth of research, for example, showing that a number of specific vitamins are essential to the normal functioning of the immune system--though they were never mentioned throughout my years of graduate study. Most surprising to me was the fact that proper nutrition could boost the body''s natural resistance to disease. Here was an incredible truth--unique in that it meant the body need not rely on drugs for better health. With this information, people could take charge of their own health. At last I was beginning to find some answers to my questions.


I decided to change my own diet. I began to use whole grains, to cut out sugars and other junk foods, to eat less meat, and to take supplements like nutritional yeast, wheat germ, and various vitamins. Before long I was feeling better than I had in years.

I also started exercising regularly, using herbs, and exploring my inner life. All these measures eventually played a part in removing some things from my life that I didn''t need--like a potbelly I was developing, plus colitis, ear infections, excess tension, susceptibility to colds and flu, and a number of negative psychological habits.

Though these personal experiments didn''t constitute so-called statistically significant studies, they were tremendously valuable to me. There is nothing more convincing about the value of a treatment than feeling better after using it. You don''t need the interpretation or opinion of any authority to acknowledge positive changes in your own body and mind.

After helping myself, I began to apply my newfound knowledge to animals-- first my own pets and then, as I returned to clinical practice, to some "hopeless" cases like Tiny. At one point, I adopted a stray kitten half- starved and ragged from life in the woods.

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