Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

Summer Reads

7 of the best dog and cat books to read this summer

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

You’ve created a sourdough starter and baked bread until you don’t have any more friends to give loaves to. You’ve planted a garden. You’ve learned how to knit. You’ve binged “Aggretsuko,” “Bodyguard” and “Chef’s Table.” You’ve watched “Hamilton” three times. Isn’t it time you settled down with a great book? Here’s what to read, whether your jam is mysteries, cats, photography or dogs of war.

Most military working dogs, aka combat assault dogs, remain anonymous throughout their careers, but one broke out from the pack after participating in a high-level operation. Millions know the name of Cairo, the Belgian Malinois who took part in SEAL Team Operation Neptune Spear, which ended in the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden in 2011. In “No Ordinary Dog: My Partner From the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid” (St. Martin’s Press), Cairo’s handler Will Chesney and writer Joe Layden tell the story of Chesney and Cairo’s training and careers -- as well as their love story. (Let’s call it what it is.) The action-packed tale begins with Chesney’s journey to become a SEAL, how his love of dogs led him to a role as a handler when dogs began to become valued SEAL Team members, their perilous work in Afghanistan, and how injuries separated them and brought them back together. No one should miss this story, so for kids there is “Warrior Dog: The True Story of a Navy SEAL and His Fearless Canine Partner,” adapted for young readers.

Mystery writer Laurien Berenson continues her Melanie Travis series with “Game of Dog Bones” (Kensington Books), in which the standard poodle owner/schoolteacher and her family head to New York City to watch poodle maven Aunt Peg achieve the dream of a lifetime: judging the Non-Sporting Group at Westminster. But the occasion is marred afterward when Aunt Peg’s nemesis, Victor Durbin, is found dead. Turns out he had a lot of enemies, for a number of good reasons. Travis seeks to nose out the killer before Aunt Peg is charged with Durbin’s murder.

I’ve long thought of myself as a terrible photographer. I took an incomplete in the subject in my college journalism program, and only the advent of smartphones improved my ability to take good pictures -- I even won an award with one of them! But thanks to Andrew Marttila’s new book “How to Take Awesome Photos of Cats” (Running Press Adult), I think I could finally advance from halfway decent snapshots of my pets with a phone camera to actually being able to operate a digital SLR and get great animal shots, both at home and on trips. Even if you’re not that interested in photography, you’ll enjoy the photos of adorable kittens and cats, but if you really want to take better pictures of your cats, this fun and practical guide will show you how.

Cat lovers will also want to check out three more books about their favorite four-footers. “Catlady: A Love Letter to Women and Their Cats” (Prestel), by Leah Reena Goren, features illustrated essays illuminating the ways cats have influenced the lives or careers of women, the friendships between women and cats, and how cats help make a home.

In “Decoding Your Cat” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), veterinary behaviorists have pulled together a guide to why cats do the things they do -- with information that may surprise and educate even those who consider themselves cat experts.

The third edition of “Cats for Dummies” (For Dummies) by Gina Spadafori, Dr. Lauren Demos and Dr. Paul Pion updates a classic with a new chapter on enrichment for indoor cats, including information on catios; a new chapter on helping community cats, including kitten fostering; and all new and updated medical material.

Finally, in “One Hundred Dogs and Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues” (Pegasus Books), Cara Sue Achterberg goes on an inspiring road trip to rural shelters and rescues seeking an answer to the unending stream of foster dogs that come to her door.


Ear mites affect

dogs and cats

Q: Do dogs get ear mites? How are they treated?

A: We tend to associate ear mites with cats, but dogs (and ferrets) can and do get them, especially as puppies. Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) are tiny parasites that are highly contagious and easily transmitted from animal to animal. Luckily, humans don’t get them.

The classic sign -- besides frantic scratching at the ears or shaking of the head -- is an accumulation of dark, waxy debris that resembles coffee grounds inside the ears. The ear canals may look red or inflamed. If ear mites are left to do their itchy work -- feeding on epidermal skin cells -- without treatment, pets can develop raw skin or hair loss around the ears, often complicated by a bacterial infection.

If you had a pet with ear mites back in the bad old days, you might remember having to put drops in the ears daily for a month to get rid of them. You’d have also done the same for all the other dogs and cats in the household to prevent the mites from jumping ship to another host -- or moving to another part of the body, such as the base of the tail, until it was safe for them to recolonize the ear. Nowadays we typically give the ears a good cleaning out, and treat puppies or kittens who are old enough with a topical systemic antiparasite medication such as those used against heartworms, fleas or ticks. While some of these products might not be labeled for mites, they are known to have off-label efficacy against them.

So the good news is that ear mites are much easier to treat than they used to be; the bad news is that it’s still a must to treat all the pets in the household to prevent their spread. -- Dr. Marty Becker

Do you have a pet question? Send it to or visit


Check cans for

cat food recall

-- If your cat eats Natural Balance Ultra Premium Chicken & Liver Pate Formula canned food, check the bottom of the can to see if it belongs to a recently recalled lot that contained elevated levels of choline chloride. Look for the retail UPC code 2363353227, lot code 9217803 and best-by date of Aug. 4, 2021. If you have any cans matching these descriptions, stop feeding the food and return remaining cans to the seller for a refund. Health concerns associated with excess choline chloride (a vitaminlike substance) include nausea, drooling, diarrhea, vomiting and more severe signs such as tremors, irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing. To report adverse reactions, call 888-569-6828 or email

-- There are four Belgian herding breeds. You may be familiar with the Tervuren, the Malinois and the sheepdog, but the fourth and rarest member of the family, the Laekenois (“lak-in-wah”), is gaining recognition in the United States. The medium-size dog has prick ears; a wiry coat in red, fawn or gray; and a protective, devoted nature. Laekenois are highly active and smart. They weigh 45 to 65 pounds and typically live 10 to 12 years.

-- Florida pets can now be protected under restraining orders in domestic violence cases. In one study, as many as 71% of female pet owners reported that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed a family pet. Judges can grant temporary exclusive possession of a pet to the person requesting a protective order. Abusers can be ordered to stay away from animals named in protective orders and can be criminally charged if they disobey. Thirty-five states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, offer pets this protection. States with no pet protections are Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Utah. -- 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, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets 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.