Pet lovers of all ages can choose from an assortment of beach reading, biology, and heartwarming tales of love, partnership and adventure
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Andrews McMeel Syndication
Summer vacation is back! Whether you are enjoying the mountains, the shore or city excursions, it’s always good to have a book on hand when you’re ready to relax. Publishers have provided a plethora of fiction and nonfiction for adults and kids who love reading about animals.
1. In Alan Russell’s “The Last Good Dog” (Three Tails Press), LAPD detective Michael Gideon and his German shepherd K-9 partner Sirius are each new parents, but before they can begin enjoying family life, they must find a killer who is threatening to destroy their new happiness. The manhunt and its climax bring Gideon to a realization about his future and the new path he must take. Russell’s storytelling technique -- weaving together humor, action and suspense -- doesn’t disappoint.
2. If your tastes run more to cozy mysteries featuring dogs, you’re probably a fan of Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis series. The latest, “Pup Fiction” (Kensington Books), has Melanie preparing to send her sons to summer camp, but the arrival of three Dalmatian puppies on camp director Emily’s doorstep sets off several unexplained incidents, culminating in the discovery of Emily’s ex-husband’s body in the woods. Can Melanie and Aunt Peg clear their friend and save the camp season?
3. Former United States Marine Craig Grossi tells the story of how he and his dog Fred, a stray Grossi found while serving in Afghanistan, came to support a special program at Maine State Prison. In “Second Chances: A Marine, His Dog, and Finding Redemption” (William Morrow), Grossi shares stories of how the inmates, many of them veterans themselves, learn to raise and train Labrador retrievers to become service dogs for disabled veterans. The dogs not only make a difference to the veterans who receive them, they also give a second chance to the inmates who train them, developing skills, experience and a sense of self-worth.
4. If you go just by the first three words of the title, you might be tempted to pass this one by. But in “Biology of Dogs: From Gonads Through Guts To Ganglia” (Dogwise), author Tim Lewis, Ph.D., takes readers on an accessible and entertaining guided tour of the canine body, revealing fascinating facts about how dogs eat, think, reproduce, use their senses and more.
5. Can dogs learn to talk? Speech-language pathologist Christina Hunger used a push button to teach words and communication to her dog Stella. In “How Stella Learned To Talk” (William Morrow), Hunger describes their journey and the techniques she used. Fascinating!
6. George has lost his wife. Dan wrestles with OCD. Lizzie lives in a women’s shelter. Ericka Waller’s debut novel, “Dog Days” (St. Martin’s Press), explores how the lives of these three strangers intersect and the ways their dogs lend support as they face life’s challenges.
7. At one time or other, every parent has heard the words, “We want a dog.” In his picture book of the same title (“We Want a Dog,” Sourcebook Jabberwocky), author Lo Cole, with playful rhyming text accompanied by clever illustrations, takes readers through one of the most important searches of a dog lover’s life: What kind of dog? Hint: Cat lovers, you’ll enjoy this one, too.
8. Based on a true story, Lynne Barrett-Lee’s “Able Seacat Simon: the Wartime Hero of the High Seas” (Lume Books), is the fictional retelling of a skinny kitten found in Hong Kong by a kind sailor who takes him in, feeds and names him, and gives him a job: chief ratcatcher. When the ship comes under fire, Simon is wounded, but thanks to care from the ship’s doctor he is soon helping injured crewmates with their own recoveries. The “able seacat” eventually wins Britain’s Dickin Medal: the Victoria Cross equivalent for animals. Keep tissues at hand.
9. It’s not new, but rabbit lovers won’t want to miss S.D. Smith’s four-book Green Ember series, featuring brave bunnies Heather, Picket and their friends. It’s for ages 7 to 12, but I loved it as much as my 10-year-old great-nephew.
Can adult cat
eat kitten food?
Q: I accidentally bought a bag of kitten food for my adult cat and didn’t notice it until I had already fed her a couple of times. Is it all right for her to finish the bag? I hate to throw it out.
A: That’s a great question! Cats have very specific dietary needs, so it’s smart of you to check. For instance, cats shouldn’t eat the same food as dogs because it doesn’t provide the level of protein, fat and other nutrients cats need for good health. I asked my colleague Dr. Tony Buffington to weigh in on this topic.
“On a short-term basis, it should certainly be OK for a healthy adult cat to eat food formulated for kittens,” he says. “Kitten foods are generally somewhat higher in protein, fat (making them higher in calories per gram of food) and some minerals and probably vitamins, and they likely contain less acid. But as long as the cat is fed to a healthy body condition and is eating approximately 40 kcal/kg lean body weight or more, she should be OK.”
The main reason not to feed kitten food to adult cats is that they’ll have a higher risk of becoming obese, since that food has higher levels of protein and fat. Carrying too many pounds is linked to a number of feline health problems. Obese cats are more likely to suffer a liver disease called hepatic lipidosis; feline urinary tract disease; diabetes; lameness from arthritis; complications from anesthesia; and nonallergenic skin conditions.
Remember that weight gain is more likely after cats turn 2 years old, so don't let them become sedentary as they mature. That's a heck of a lot easier than trying to change their eating habits or food after they have put on too many pounds. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com or visit Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker.
What to know
-- It’s hot out there! Early signs that your pet is overheating include decreased moisture on nose tissue, less interest in play or treats, seeking shade, not wanting to move much, sprawling on cool ground, rolling his tongue out as far as it will go to increase evaporation and heat dissipation, and uncontrolled panting. Serious signs are staggering, bloody diarrhea and collapse. Cool your dog with cool or cold water -- either is fine -- and get him to a veterinarian to make sure he’s OK. It’s a good idea to stop active cooling while his temperature is still slightly higher than normal so he doesn’t become hypothermic.
-- Sprollies aren’t fancy British umbrellas. The good-looking hybrid dogs are a cross between an English springer spaniel and a collie or border collie. If you’ve been to the United Kingdom, you may have seen one relaxing outside a pub after taking their owner on an active walk or hike. Sprollies are noted for their high energy level, intelligence and good nature. The cheerful and fun-loving dogs can be intense and highly active, making them a potential challenge to live with. Their coats range from short and sparse to medium-length and bushy, and come in black and white, brown and white, tricolor, or black.
-- A bird’s beak is the avian equivalent of a Swiss Army knife, serving as a weapon, a lockpick, a nutcracker, a feather comb, a peeler, a baby bird feeder and much more. Parrot beaks consist of powerful upper and lower mandibles and a strong and agile tongue. The shape of their beak gives members of the parrot family, which include budgies and cockatiels, the nickname “hookbill.” Canaries and other finches have short, straight bills, enabling them to easily obtain the seeds and grubs that are part of their diets. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
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 Facebook.com/DrMartyBecker or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at Facebook.com/KimCampbellThornton and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at Facebook.com/MikkelBecker and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.