BOOKS: The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July-August 2013:

The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and  The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat by Deborah Mitchell St. Martin’s Press (c/o MacMillan,  175 Fifth Avenue,  New York,  NY  10010),  2013. 248 and 224 pages,  paperback.  $7.99 each.

Health writer Deborah Mitchell in The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat presents dozens of home remedies for common canine and feline ailments including arthritis, dermatitis,  dementia,  kidney disease,  and hairballs.  

“An overweight dog who has arthritis will suffer more than a dog at optimal weight,”  explains Mitchell, recommending treatments including doses of omega-3 fatty acids,  glucosamine,  and chondroitin.  Excessive exercise should be avoided,  Mitchell cautions,  but swimming is excellent for arthritic dogs because they can get a good workout with lesss stress on their joints than they would experience if running or walking.

Unfortunately,  Mitchell often mingles good advice with suggestions more likely to appeal to human devotees of “alternative” healing than to relieve the ailments for which they are recommended.  Both The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat include sections on ear care.  Floppy-eared dogs are by reputation more vulnerable to ear infections than those whose ears are open.  Mitchell urges the use of a soft cotton cloth for ear-cleaning,  rather than cotton swabs.  Ear infections may be treated,  according to Mitchell,  with natural remedies including vinegar,  green tea,  and garlic.  Cats often suffer from ear mites.  Home mite remedies include calendula oil,  Vitamin E,  and yellow dock,  says Mitchell.

Fleas and ticks may afflict either cats or dogs,  but dogs tend to be more vulnerable to these parasites,  especially in warm humid climates.  Mitchell’s suggested home remedies,  either in lieu of or together with conventional treatments, include adding brewer’s yeast to a dog’s diet, and administering mixtures including lavender oil,  rosemary,  and rose geranium oil. In addition to treating infested animals,  Mitchell recommends treating their habitat,  as otherwise the animals will be continually re-infested.

Much of The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat are about diet.  Skeptical of commercial pet foods,  Mitchell discusses dietary supplements and presents recipes for home-cooked cat and dog meals.  Mitchell also offers lists of substances that she believes cats and dogs should not ingest, including marijuana,  grapes,  milk and other dairy products (which have been staples of dog and cat diets for millennia), and canned tuna,  the bait most often used in feral cat neuter/return programs. The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Dog and The Complete Book of Home Remedies for Your Cat are not substitutes for veterinary care.  Home remedies are often not effective against contagious diseases,  cannot replace vaccination,  and are unlikely to relieve feline urinary tract infections or blockages,  relatively common among dogs, caused by swallowing inappropriate objects such as toys and socks.     

 ––Debra J. White

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