RSPCA Complete Dog Care Manual by Dr Bruce Fogle
|RSPCA Complete Dog Care Manual by Dr Bruce Fogle|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A comprehensive book on dog care written by a vet. It takes you through from choosing a puppy to the care of the elderly dog and gices loads of sensible advice. If you have a dog it's one to buy and keep close to hand.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: March 2006|
|Publisher: Dorling Kindersley|
For the last ten years I've never been without a dog and for most of the time I've had two dogs with the occasional extra temporary resident. We've been through most of the common health problems one way and another and even had excursions into the more unusual. Throughout all this, Complete Dog Care Manual has been my Bible and it's beginning to look very well-used.
The format is simple and very user-friendly. It begins with a basic history of the dog which is interesting and not overly long and then moves into some more specific articles about selective breeding and understanding a dog. Bruce Fogle is a Canadian-born vet now resident in London, who is internationally recognised for his expertise in animal behaviour and the notes and illustrations he gives on how to interpret the signs a dog gives should be mandatory reading for every owner. It's very easy for the inexperienced to interpret play as aggression and it's always worth knowing when you are dealing with a dominant dog.
The chapter on basic care covers everything from how to choose a dog to suit your lifestyle, the equipment you'll need and making your home safe for the new puppy. The section on examining a new puppy is excellent and if potential owners go through the suggested checks they should get a good dog. There's plenty of good advice about what you need to do when you get the puppy home. Fogle is an advocate of the newspaper method of house training a dog. I never have been, but it does work and is certainly better than no training at all.
Something which has made me chuckle when I reread the book this week is the piece on dog-proofing your garden. I hadn't looked at this since I first read the book a decade ago and then I thought this section looked rather extreme. Ten years, and two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, later, I look at it and think how much it resembles our garden. Our fencing is sturdy, gates have sound locks and areas which can cause problems are fenced off. There's a useful list of plants which can prove toxic to dogs - and it might cause you to look carefully at what you have in the garden.
The chapter on feeding is clear and sensible. There are charts to show what your dog should be consuming both in terms of content and quantity, with notes as to the likely effect if they have too much or too little of anything. I'm disappointed that he doesn't put a great deal of stress on the part that vegetables can play in a balanced diet. Both my dogs have big appetites and the vast quantities of raw vegetable which they consume helps to satisfy the hunger without fattening them.
"Grooming" covers not only the care of the coat, but also the other regular care which needs to be given to a dog, such as cleaning ears and eyes, brushing teeth and clipping claws. Whilst he mentions consulting a vet if you're in any doubt about clipping a dog's claws, he doesn't mention that regular exercise on a hard surface will keep the claws short without the need for clipping. Grooming of the coat covers all the different types of coat and doesn't suggest that you need a lot of specialist equipment.
The chapter on training is basic and I would regard it as a starting point rather than a complete guide. I dislike the fact that he advocates the use of choke chains, albeit with certain restrictions, but I would never allow a dog of mine to wear a choke chain as I believe that they can cause numerous problems and there are ways to control a dog which are as effective and far more humane.
Unfortunately, for me the most used part of this book has been the section on health. It begins with a section on the healthy dog, with pictures of clear eyes, healthy teeth and even a picture of what the anal region should look like. We then move on to signs of ill health, and in a double-page spread there's a guide to the general areas of problems - "Urinary Disorders", "External Parasites" for example - and you're directed to the appropriate page. Each problem is dealt with in the same way, so let's look at Digestive Disorders (which I've had cause to look at far too many times) as an example.
Everything is summarised across a double-page spread. On the left there's a brief introduction and a diagram of the digestive system. I've found these diagrams useful as they're simple and clearly labelled. When our dogs have been having continuing care they've meant that I've been able to discuss the problems with at least a degree of knowledge. On the right-hand page is a list of symptoms such as Occasional Vomiting and Persistent Vomiting. Each symptom is described and then you're told what action needs to be taken. With occasional vomiting food is withdrawn for twenty four hours, but with persistent vomiting or vomiting blood the vet is contacted immediately. This almost certainly saved the life of one of my dogs. Late one evening she vomited what looked like blood. Courtesy tempted me to leave phoning the vet until the following morning: Dr Fogle said otherwise. The vet saw her at 9pm and operated within hours. Had I left it until the morning we would probably have lost her.
Each and every illness is not covered but the individual symptoms are all there. There's sufficient to tell you whether you can treat the problem yourself, or whether you need to call the vet. You will also have some idea of the information the vet needs: "she's been vomiting for two days, hasn't eaten anything strange, but hasn't brought up any blood. I withdrew food for a day, but that hasn't cured it." It's a book that helps you to get the best from the vet - and the best for the dog.
I suspect that my vet would like all owners to read the chapter on visiting the vet. It covers all the basic checks and gives the reason why they're done. It also makes the point that prevention is not only better than cure - it's also less expensive. Having read the book I've made a point of ensuring that our puppies are used to the checks that the vet will make. We regularly examine their ears, separate toes, extend joints and open mouths. Willing visitors are encouraged to do the same. When we go to the vet it's really nothing out of the ordinary for them.
Photography in the book is stunning. Not only are the pictures a pleasure to look at, they also illustrate the points being made extremely well. I suspect that there were a number of photographers as I was unable to find a name!
The book has been a godsend to me. All the advice given is sensible and appropriate and it's helped me to deal with my vet on an informed basis. On at least one occasion I think it saved my dog's life.
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