Pet Connection

Page Turners

Nine of the best new pet books to read this summer

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

Summer reading can be an escape, an education, an entertaining way to while away a few hours or all of the above. If you’re a pet owner, you have an astonishingly wide array of literary pleasures and educational treasures awaiting you during long, lazy days of vacation or simply while you’re waiting for the kids to get out of day camp. The following new releases cover all the bases: mystery, science, photography, behavior and humor.

In “Fear on Four Paws,” book seven in Clea Simon’s Pru Marlowe pet noir series, the animal communicator faces a drugged bear, a ferret who’s not sharing any secrets, her own crabby tabby and a town whose pets are disappearing. Marlowe herself becomes a person of interest in a murder, and a tempting job offer further complicates the situation. Can she identify the killer and return the missing pets to their homes?

Blue cats, big cats, plush cats, silly cats. If your happy place involves looking at pictures of cats, you won’t want to miss professional cat photographer Larry Johnson’s book “Show Cats: Portraits of Fine Felines.” In its pages, more than 180 images depict cats in all their glory: color, eyes, ears, tails, coat type, in motion and more. The accompanying text shares information and insights about the cats themselves and the challenges of photographing them.

If you’d rather see cats trip on ‘nip, look for Andrew Marttila’s “Cats On Catnip,” photographic documentation of the silly, bizarre and delightfully unhinged behaviors cats exhibit under the influence of the herb.

How do dogs smell? Frank Rosell set out to answer that question in his book “Secrets of the Snout: The Dog’s Incredible Nose.” He does a terrific job of explaining dogs’ olfactory obsessions as well as exploring the different types of work dogs do, including finding lost pets, search and rescue, and detecting explosives, pests and diseases. Sniff it out.

Ethologist Adam Miklosi brings together anatomy, behavior, biology, evolution and history to present the latest in what we know about dogs. His art- and photography-rich book “The Dog: A Natural History” ranges from the controversies over where and when domestication began to our current dog-loving culture and the attachment between humans and dogs.

Marc Bekoff’s “Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do” is a fine companion to Miklosi and Rosell’s books, bringing the latest science on cognition and emotion to canine personalities, play, marking habits and more, including the eternal question: Why do dogs roll in stinky things?

I must confess, my co-writers Dr. Marty Becker and Mikkel Becker and I are among the contributors to the next book, “From Fearful to Fear Free.” Subtitled “A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias,” it addresses how fear affects the canine brain, types of fears dogs can develop, such as separation anxiety and noise and thunderstorm phobias, and how to use reward-based techniques to reduce or even prevent fear at the veterinary clinic, out in public, on the road and more.

Kids who love animals and want to learn more about animal welfare can’t go wrong with Beth Adelman’s book “Dogs and Cats: Saving Our Precious Pets.” In easy-to-understand language, she addresses pet overpopulation, breed-specific legislation, genetic diversity, declawing and health problems caused by extreme physical characteristics, to name just a few of the important issues to consider when we live with animals. A quiz and suggested research project at the end of each chapter help readers remember what they’ve learned and find out more.

In “Catnip: A Love Story,” Michael Korda’s doodles of his cats’ imaginary lives -- reading the newspaper, happy hour at the local pub, a Fourth of July celebration -- are a joyful and humorous representation of the love for cats he and his wife shared.


Common disorder

hard to diagnose

Q: My dog has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. What can you tell me about this disease?

A: Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones. Usually it develops when thyroid glands become inflamed (thyroiditis) or when the glands atrophy with age.

In most cases, the body’s immune system reacts by attacking and destroying thyroid gland cells, a condition called autoimmune thyroiditis. This causes thyroid glands to be less able to produce and secrete their hormones, leading to progressive and irreversible damage. The body’s metabolic rate drops, and dogs may gain weight or lose hair. We often see autoimmune thyroiditis in Doberman pinschers, beagles, golden retrievers and Akitas, but any dog can be affected.

It affects less than 1 percent of the canine population, but that still makes it the most common endocrine disease in dogs. It’s a concern in more than 70 breeds as well as in mixed breeds.

Hypothyroidism is challenging to diagnose and can be missed or mistaken for other disorders. That’s because it has a wide range of variable symptoms that are also seen in other diseases. Figuring out what’s going on requires a complete physical exam combined with several diagnostic tests and knowledge of other factors such as breed idiosyncrasies and illnesses and drugs that can influence test results.

Just a few of the common signs are thinning hair on both sides of the body or on the tail; skin that becomes dark, scaly or greasy; unusually heavy shedding; and lethargy. Dogs may feel cold all the time and seek out warm spots. Weight gain is one of the signs that may be overlooked because people associate it with aging instead of possible disease. The good news is that once diagnosed, hypothyroidism can be managed with a synthetic form of thyroid hormone given orally twice a day for the rest of the dog’s life. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Pet emergency costs

difficult to meet

-- Are you financially prepared for a pet health emergency? According to figures from pet insurance company Pet Plan, the average cost of emergency veterinary visits ranges from $800 to $1,500. A Bankrate survey found that only 39 percent of respondents would be able to cover a $1,000 emergency bill. Financial experts recommend saving $5,000 to $10,000 for pet emergency expenses, purchasing pet health insurance while pets are young and don’t have any pre-existing conditions, or opening a CareCredit medical credit card account. Finally, don’t be afraid to discuss your budget with the veterinarian, who can then help you decide the most cost-effective way to proceed.

-- The lagotto Romagnolo isn’t a fancy Italian racecar, but a curly-coated water retriever. The name means “lake dog of Romagna,” but the breed’s talents aren’t limited to fetching fallen waterfowl. He’s also a popular truffle-hunting dog. Lagotti (the plural of the name) are medium-size dogs weighing 24 to 35 pounds. The coat doesn’t shed much, but it requires regular professional grooming or an owner skilled with clippers. No fancy trims needed, though; he’s supposed to have a natural appearance. The dogs are affectionate, intelligent and exuberant, so be prepared to provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy.

-- Does your cat stink? If the smell is coming from his hind end, he may have poop stuck in his fur, especially if he has long hair. Gird your loins and give him a look-see. He may need to have the fur around his rear trimmed or a butt bath to get him clean. Cats who are overweight, arthritic or have some other condition that limits their mobility are most in need of a little grooming help from their human friends. Take them to the veterinarian, who may be able to diagnose the cause and recommend treatment. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.

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