BOOKS: How to Treat Your Dogs & Cats with Over-the-Counter Drugs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  September 2012:

How to Treat Your Dogs & Cats with Over-the-Counter Drugs and companion edition
by Robert L. Ridgway, DVM IUniverse:
168 and 104 pages,  paperback.  $15.95 and $13.95.

Along with not judging books by the cover. one must sometimes be careful not to judge them by the title.  Orlando Animal Services’ veterinarian Robert L. Ridgway’s handbook How to Treat Your Dogs & Cats with Over-the-Counter Drugs and companion edition of additional advice are useful and practical.  But the mention of over-the-counter drugs in the titles may be misleading.  Ridgway’s books are not pharmacological guides written to help pet keepers avoid the use of prescription medication.

Relatively little of Ridgway’s advice has to do with drugs. The drugs he recommends are the conventional array recommended by most vets.  His emphasis is on preventive medicine, especially protecting pets against parasites and eye injuries.  Sometimes Ridgway argues against common uses of drugs–“If you’re going on a long flight to Hawaii or a foreign country, there is no sedative on the planet that will treat the animal for the duration of the trip, so don’t do it,” not least because sedation increases the risk that animals will die from heat stress.

Because Ridgway is a senior vet for one of the largest open-admission animal control shelters in the U.S., he often sees injuries and illnesses that result from neglect, mistreatment, and misuse of animals–for example, frequent and often horrific cases of ingrown collars on dogs who have been kept chained outside.  Though Ridgeway says nothing specific about dogfighting injuries, he points out that feeding dogs gunpowder, a common dogfighter tactic, “frequently burns a hole in the stomach or intestines.

Ridgway offers no opinion about the morality of hunting with dog packs, but discusses several categories of pad and nostril injury often suffered by hunting dogs, with evident disapproval of hunters who keep their dogs penned for most of the year and then expect them to exhibit stamina that can only be developed by frequent exercise.

Ridgway comes down hard on the recurring fad of feeding dogs all-meat diets.  Dogs need plant-based food to retain strong bones, and as Ridgway points out, die within three to six months if they do not get enough plant-based food.  Ridgway notes that coprophagia–poop-eating–is normal for dogs, and usually harmless to them, but oddly suggests that the origin of this common scavenging behavior is unknown.  Actually, this has been a big part of how street dogs make their living for as long as humans have had streets for dogs to inhabit.

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