Corrections & Additions to The Dog Bible

This book is a work in progress - as are so many things in life -- so despite every good intention and effort, there may be subjects Tracie missed or need to be clarified. Look for Corrections and Additions to the Dog Bible in the space below.

The Dog Bible: Table of Contents

Foreword by Barry Browning, DVM
Chapter 11 — YOUR DOG’S HEALTH
Chapter 13 — NUTRITION
( DOWNLOAD "Scooby Doo Hotchner's 25 Rules for Kids" - PDF 142KB )


This book is going to change your dog’s life.

It will explain how she thinks, feels, develops and communicates, so you can get the most out of each other’s company . . .

It will give you the truth about the different ways and places to get a dog, so when you make a decision it is a fully informed one . . .

It will give you all of the most reliable information about health care, nutrition, training and everything else that pertains to the practicalities of a dog’s life, so that you can make good decisions for your dog based on your own situation . . .

It will cover every possible problem you might encounter with your dog and give you choices in how to handle it . . .

It will help you safely introduce your dog to new situations and people, to babies and children, to other dogs and to cats . . .

This book is going to change your life.

If you’ve picked up The Dog Bible, then you have a dog, you want to get a dog, or you’re close to someone who falls into those two categories. You may already have discovered that no book exists that covers everything a dog-lover needs to know.

I wrote this book because I went looking for it and couldn’t find anything like it. I wanted a book I could reach for when I had any questions or problems with my dogs, to find quick ideas and suggestions, remedies and advice. There’s never been a book like this, and we dog people needed it. So I embarked on the research of every aspect of a dog’s life and covered all the bases. I read the latest medical and nutritional journals. I interviewed vets and dog trainers, consulted breeders and pet-store owners and dog owners, asking them what they would want to find in an encyclopedic book about dogs. And here it is.

When I was researching this book, people frequently assumed I was relying on the Internet for information, but the opposite was true. Even though there are dozens of sites affiliated with dogs on the Internet—and what seems like a river of information—much of it is superficial and/or unreliable. Every so often I’d come upon something interesting, however much of it was simplistic and the origin of the information was unclear. We all tend to forget that the Internet is not just a free encyclopedia or Yellow Pages in cyberspace: it’s a place where money changes hands at various levels. Many canine sites are venues to sell dog-related merchandise. There is nothing inherently bad about that—after all, commerce makes the world go around—but you certainly wouldn’t want to make any important decision about your dog’s life based on anything you surfed on the Net. Having said this, there are some good Internet sites for canine health and wellness issues: any address with “.edu” means a site is affiliated with a university or veterinary school.

You’re going to want this book because it has in-depth, objective, thorough facts; because it understands the different ways that dogs are dear to all of us and our desire to get the most out of sharing our lives with them; because it gives you an encyclopedic tool you can reach for when you want information about anything to do with your dog. With all due respect to the late great Benjamin Spock, M.D., you can think of this as the “Dr. Spock” for your dog, the has-it-all book that you reach for in times of need or curiosity.

Until The Dog Bible came along, there was no reliable place to turn with questions and concerns about pooches. The typical dog owner knows so little about this creature who basically lives for us, yet there is a mountain of information about every aspect of humans sharing their lives with canines. Researchers are discovering nuances about the nutritional, developmental and emotional needs of dogs. Our devotion to our dogs means that the standard of luxury and care for dogs is constantly being raised. Scientists and doctors are developing medical tests and treatments for dogs that were unimaginable a decade ago. In this book you can find out the latest information about what makes dogs tick; how to enhance the human-dog connection; learn the optimal conditions in which to raise a dog; advances in medical care; what choices you have in feeding a dog; the special needs of very small and very large dogs; healthy living with a dog in the city; how to manage canine health for maximum happiness and longevity; and, eventually, how to deal with the options available for bringing a dog’s life to a dignified and serene close.

My goal in researching and writing The Dog Bible was to improve every aspect of the life you share with your dog. I was already immersed in it, having been a three-dog woman for years now, although not always with the same three dogs. I have never lived without a dog: I was born into a home with a puppy already waiting for my arrival—a fluffy Bedlington Terrier named Pango who shared my life until we were both sixteen. He was my first sibling, and that first year I spent on all fours on the floor with him left me with a compassion for the dog’s point of view that I have never lost. I held onto it for Pango’s daughter Pandora and then the pair of Bedlingtons we had after them—Mistress Quickly and Falstaff—and then the Golden Retriever Roma; the Cocker Spaniel Amalfi; the Rottweilers Brutus and Yogi Bear; the Corgi/Jack Russell Lucca; the Weimaraners Lulu, Billy Blue and Scooby Doo; and Miss Jazzy, a smooth Collie/sled dog mix. And that doesn’t count the dozens of dogs belonging to friends and family who have shared my life and taught me so much.

There is so much more that dog lovers need to know today—so many more choices about what to do with and for our dogs. With most issues about canines there is rarely an absolute—to each his own. If you are a first-time dog owner, you will soon find that almost everyone has opinions about dog ownership. That age-old wisdom not to give people advice about their pets or children is ignored by lots of folks who want to tell you what to do with your dog. Once you have the facts, you can weigh the information and advice you get and be free to make an informed decision for yourself. But without an objective reference source to begin with, you are at the mercy of secondhand advice and hearsay, which you cannot evaluate intelligently.

How to Use This Book

Any way you want, basically. Don’t let its size put you off. It’s there for as little or as much as you need. You can read all of it or only snippets; the part you need today and the part leading up to it another. The front of each chapter has a list of its subjects to help you navigate, but I’ve tried to make it as logical and user-friendly as possible. There’s a massive index so you can find and cross-check absolutely everything that interests you. Some day, at some point, you may have flipped this book open to most of the entries and gotten the direction you needed. Just knowing it’s all there should be a comfort: you’re not alone and you’re not in the dark. This book will fortify you with enough information to help you determine whether you can handle things alone or need professional assistance.

Dogs are so deeply important to so many people in our world. In fact, a dog is front and center in so many households (sixty million in the United States alone) that collectively we don’t even feel the need to defend how shamelessly in love many of us are with our dogs. We don’t need to explain the huge amount of time and energy we devote to our canine companions. There are so many reasons that dogs are vitally important to us.

As dog owners we all want to take the best care of our pets. To do that, we need to arm ourselves with information, and The Dog Bible presents you with objective information as simply as possible.

I wish a long and happy life to each of you with your dogs. I hope you are able to give them as much pleasure as I’m sure they give you.

I hope that when people see you with your dog they say the same thing that they say to me: “Boy, when I come back, I want to come back as your dog.”

Tracie Hotchner
East Hampton, New York 2005

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Corrections & Additions...

After the text of each addition, you will find a link to a PDF file version of that addition, which you may download.

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All rights reserved. The following material is protected under the copyright laws of the United States of America. The reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part in any form, is forbidden without the prior written permission of Tracie Hotchner.

Omega-3 Fish Oils (page 452)

Even dogs on great diets are still deficient in the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Research suggests that daily supplementation is a "health tonic" for dogs (and for us, too) - important for skin and coat health, the well-being of the eyes, heart and brain, and proven to reduce inflammation, especially in the joints. The oil capsules sold by vets usually don't even contain fish oil. I recommend and use the brand Nordic Naturals because the oil comes from fish in the cleanest waters with the strictest oversight by the Norwegian government in the purity of the oil.

Tear Stains on White Dogs - PDF File (48KB)

Urinary Crystal Diet - PDF File (35KB)

WARNING: Paper Shredders in Home Offices

Some people who work from home keep a document shredder on the floor that is kept on the setting “AutoFeed.” The danger to any pet is that if a cat or dog with a long-haired tail gets close to the paper shredder and her tail waves across it, the shredder will suck the hair right in. This has happened to more than a few cats and dogs and is not only terrifying when you are right there, but just imagine the danger and trauma to your pet if it were to happen when you are away. So if you do have a document shredder, make sure it is always in the off position unless you are actively using it.


Giardia is an intestinal parasite that can be passed to people and giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by this microscopic parasite. Once an animal or person has been infected, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in the stool, where it can survive outside the body for a long time. The organisms come from the environment and live in moist or wet areas. Giardia is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease (from drinking water and recreational water) in humans in the United States, where it occurs in every region.

Read more in the PDF File: giardia.pdf (62KB)


New Combo Breeds

The most popular and successful of hybrid breeds is the Labradoodle, which already has its own breeder’s organization and at 8,500, has the most dogs officially registered with the American Canine Hybrid Club. People say that the “breed” was developed from the traditional guide dog, the Labrador, crossed with the non-shedding Poodle, presumably as a companion animal for people allergic to dogs. Although it makes a nice story, the reasoning behind this is necessarily false because a dog’s hair is not what a person is allergic to - it is the dander, the dead cells on the dog’s skin. Even hairless dogs have dander, so while Poodles are one of the few breeds with hair that grows longer rather than falling out, this only means that they (and to some extent Labradoodles and other “doodles”) do not shed hair, making them less messy but no less allergenic.

Currently, the second most popular Combo-breed in America is the Puggle, a mix between a Pug and Beagle. There are already several dozen Puggle breeders across the country and there are 7,500 of the dogs registered with the American Canine Hybrid Club. It’s anybody’s guess for how long the Puggle’s popularity will continue to rise or at what point there will be temperament or health issues which will cool the enthusiasm. It usually takes three generations to stabilize the inherited traits in crossbreeding, but in ignorance and enthusiasm, breeders are cropping up to jump on this bandwagon without any provision for the inevitable genetic mishaps.

To envision where this combo-breeding is going, you need only look back to the 1970’s when Cock-a-Poos were all the rage. Ever stop to wonder what happened to that seemingly unstoppable hybrid experiment? Undoubtedly the Cock-a-Poo temperaments did not match up with their cute looks. The faddish Cock-a-Poo is rarely mentioned or seen anymore, while Cocker Spaniels and Poodles are no less prominent. On some level you can judge any breed by its staying power, because while many will go in and out of fashion, the committed educated breeders stay their course and the dog breeds of substance and quality do not disappear.

Word has it that the Schnoodle and Goldendoodle are not far behind. With today’s hybrids commanding very high prices there is a big incentive for novice breeders to try to cash in on this mania for new breeds, with either no regard or no control over the outcome. Even the Queen of England has gotten in on the fad: apparently one of Princess Margaret’s Dachshunds had an assignation with one of the Queen’s Corgis, a combination they are calling the Royal Dorgis. The first question that comes to mind is why the Royal Family is not informed enough to know that they should be setting an example of responsible ownership by spaying and neutering all their dogs? This is doubly true if you believe what they say of the Queen’s Corgis: that they are not palace-trained and relieve themselves at will, and also that they are disposed to using their teeth to interact with humans.  Whether you ascribe to the developmental theory of “nature” or “nurture,” the fact remains that these are not desirable qualities in a dog, especially not when joined with Dachshunds, whose repertoire can include snapping and who are notoriously difficult to house-train.

If you think things may be going too far with all the new mixed breeds that are cropping up, here’s word from the canine grapevine about some of the newer hybrids we can look forward to:

Bloodhound + Labrador = Blabador (a dog who barks all the time)
Collie + Lhasa Apso = Collapso (a dog who folds up for easy transport)
Collie + Malamute = Commute (a dog who travels to work)
Deerhound + Terrier = Derriere (a who is true to the end)
Labrador + Curly Coated Retriever = Lab Coat Retriever (the choice of research scientists)
Malamute + Pointer = Moot Point (as in “The Seavers just got a Moot Point…oh well, never mind… it doesn’t matter.”)
Newfoundland + Basset Hound = Newfound Asset Hound (perfect for financial advisors)
Pointer + Setter = Poinsetter (the traditional pet for Christmas)
Spitz + Chow Chow = Spitz-Chow (a dog who throws up a lot)
Terrier + Bulldog = Terribull (a dog who makes awful mistakes)
Bull Terrier + Shitzu = well, you get the point…



I beg pardon of agility aficionados and those who want to explore agility training for the first time because this section accidentally got dropped from the book. I will make up for it here and promise to give the sport its rightful place in the revised edition.

A quick explanation for those who know nothing about this growing sport: it is a competition in which dogs are timed as they navigate a pre-determined course over a series of regulation obstacles. The dogs perform off-leash in partnership with their person, who runs alongside or ahead of them, indicating to the dog which obstacle she must navigate next, either going on, over, around, through or under. The dog practices over and learns to identify those obstacles by name that the person calls out in competition, indicating which hurdles, tunnels, hoops, catwalk, or poles to weave around.

There are a number of agility groups you can contact to find out where there might be gatherings in your area. All these groups welcome dogs of every background, except the AKC which only allows purebred dogs.

American Kennel Club (AKC); Australian Shepherd Club of America (ASCA); Canine Performance Events (CPE); Dogs on Course in North America (DOCNA); Just for Fun (JFF); North American Dog Agility Council (NADAC); Teacup Dogs Agility Association (TDAA); United Kennel Club (UKC); United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA)


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Health Insurance

Please take the time to shop and compare the following (alphabetically arranged) companies that offer pet health insurance. Companies may go out of business, or may change their policies, and policy terms vary depending on the state, so the list below is only a list – you need to get detailed information when you are shopping and comparing. And don’t be surprised if you get nowhere with companies that have “folded their tents” since the list was formulated.

AKC Pet Healthcare Plan, [866-725-2747]  [866-937-7387] [877-738-7237]

Pets Health Care Plan, [800-807-6724] [888-738-7837]

Veterinary Pet Insurance, [866-467-4738]


Diseases Passed From Dogs to People

The risk of disease transmission from one species to another is quite low but it is still a possibility. For people with compromised immune systems – cancer or dialysis patients or those with HIV or an organ transplant – the possibility of contracting an illness from a dog is real threat. For a person with a poor immune system, a simple lick from a dog with oral disease can lead to a human infection or a dog with Bordatella can cause human pneumonia.

Because of the intimate physical way in which many of us relate to our dogs, even the healthiest people should take precautions. At the very least, be sure to wash your hands after touching your own or other dogs, especially if you are going to eat. The ease with which humans can become infested with roundworms is a creepy example: a dog with roundworm will shed eggs in his feces but also on his coat. A person who pats that dog and then eats a sandwich without washing his hands thoroughly, will ingest those roundworm eggs which migrate to human organs or eyes, where they can cause blindness.

The following list shows the diseases on the left and the method of transmittal the right. In every case, the way to protect yourself is by thorough hand-washing (except in the case of rabies where vaccination is a necessary reaction and scabies in which the mites have to be eradicated.)

DISEASE                  FROM/BY

Bordatella                                         feces

Diarrhea (bacterial)                        feces

Giardia                                              feces (parasite)

Leptospirosis                                  urine

Rabies                                              saliva

Ringworm                                        skin (fungus)

Scabies                                            skin (mites)


Cancer Diet Advice

There have been some changes in the recommendations about the best diet for dogs with cancer. It used to be that the only advice available was to encourage these dogs to eat as much as possible because it was known that dogs with cancer lost weight even though eating normally. Until recently, this phenomenon was not understood, but research has shown that cancer cells thrive on carbohydrates as an energy source, rather than on fats or proteins.  The chemical reaction of the breakdown of those carbohydrates causes dogs with cancer to burn calories at a faster pace, so that they lose weight even while eating the same amount they always did. This means that the newest recommendation is for dogs with cancer to have diets low in carbohydrates, high in protein and high in fat. Dogs with cancer who were fed in this way lost less weight and even may have lived longer as a result.

On a low carbohydrate diet, cancer cells will next turn to protein as an energy source.  If the cancer is a fast-growing kind, it can use up all the protein in the dog’s diet and then turn to the dog’s own muscle protein. In order to minimize this risk, the dog’s diet needs a high protein level. The dietary fat should be especially high since the body can use it as an energy source but cancer cells cannot. In fact, cancer diets should include additional Omega-3 fatty acids which actually seem to inhibit tumor growth.

If you can spare the time, you will be doing your dog a great favor to prepare him a special diet while he is fighting the cancer. This formula is not suggested for long term use on a healthy animal, but will help sustain a dog who is suffering from cancer. A simple rule of thumb for the cancer diet is to have one half poultry or fish and one half mixed vegetables, either fresh or frozen. These can be cooked together, frozen in portions and served with some olive, safflower or cod fish oil and a high quality vitamin/mineral supplement. Calcium is also beneficial and can come from dry milk powder, cottage or ricotta cheese, yogurt or whole milk.


Eye Problems

CATARACTS are a cloudiness in the normally clear lens of the eye. This is different than the hazy appearance that all dogs get after 8 years of age, a normal change called sclerosis. This is simply the lens of the eye getting more dense and does not affect vision. But cataracts are different: a dog can be born with them or can develop them as a puppy or adult as a result of genetics, poor nutrition or as a side effect of diabetes. In some dogs cataracts develop rapidly, while in others the process is slow. Unlike in humans where cataract surgery is done routinely, it is more difficult in dogs and only recommended with severely compromised vision or full blindness in both eyes.

CHERRY EYE appears as a bright red lump in the corner of the eye. It is the exposed gland of the third eyelid that all dogs have at the corner of their eyes to keep them moist and clean. Cherry Eye is an infected tear gland it is as painful as it is unsightly. It can potentially be irritating enough to cause blindness and may require surgery. The condition is usually seen in young, small breed dogs.

CONJUNCTIVITIS is a common problem in which the membrane of the eye gets irritated and it produces mucus to soothe the cornea and fight the baceteria.

DRY EYE is a disease mainly of older dogs that is caused by inadequate tear production. Treatment is directed at increasing tear production. Unless it is treated in early stages, it can lead to serious infection and corneal ulcers.

GLAUCOMA is the same in dogs as in humans, a disease in which pressure builds up inside the eye, which can lead to blindness. The eye may appear cloudy and red, due to the fluid normally circulating in the eye which does not drain properly.  It is usually seen in middle-aged dogs, especially Cocker Spaniels and terriers. It can be painful and you may be aware that your dog squints in bright light. Another symptom is that the eye may bulge and if the glaucoma becomes advanced the eyelid may not even be able to cover it. If the glaucoma goes untreated to this emergency stage it can cause blindness in a matter of hours.

TEAR STAINS (also called “Poodle eye”) is a condition is peculiar to certain toy breeds like Poodles, Maltese, Pekingese and Pomeranians. The cause is usually unknown but creates streaks down the face from the corners of the eyes. Vets will often give a broad spectrum antibiotic for about three weeks or in a low dose to put in the food for long-term control. The antibiotic is secreted in the tears and stops them from staining. Like with all medical issues, you obviously need to speak to your own vet about the advisability of this treatment.


Pain Control

The most modern thinking about the importance of pain relief for dogs is that withholding that medication is tantamount to “patient abuse.”  It was once believed that dogs who had undergone major traumas and medical procedures must not be really suffering because they did not show outward signs of their distress. However, a dog  who experiences a minor trauma (like being stepped on or stung) does yelp, cry or whine. The difference is that the survival instinct of a pack animal is by necessity to hide serious injury or pain so as not to appear vulnerable or call attention to himself.  In the wild, if a dog were to exhibit extreme pain it would make him a target for predators.

It was only a few years ago that pain relief was rarely given to pets after spaying or neutering – or even after a more invasive or complex injury or surgery. It took years for practitioners to realize that the animals were truly suffering, albeit in silence. It may seem incredible now that veterinarians did not recognize that animal needed pain medication – and only recently has there been a consensus that there is no benefit from withholding pain medications and no gain from the dog suffering.

Doctors now know that medication helps animals recover faster and better, while the pain itself causes physiological repercussions. Whether in animals or humans, pain creates physical problems like increased heart rate and respiratory rate, decreased intestinal and urinary function, muscle spasms and depression. By preventing or controlling pain people and animals return to normal body function and activities sooner. With their stress levels lowered, dogs recover faster and return to mobility sooner.


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Urinary Stones

Since nearly losing my Weimeraner Scooby Doo to bladder stones I discovered that it is not uncommon for dogs (and cats) to suffer from painful and often life-threatening stones in their urinary systems. There are two different kind of stones which form in either the kidneys or the bladder: “struvite” stones are the most common and most-easily managed with diet, while “urate” stones are more difficult. As luck would have it, the latter were the kind of stones poor Scooby got, which in his case were undetected by x-ray because they had imbedded in the bladder wall. A third of his bladder had been destroyed by the time emergency surgery was performed.  Ordinarily it is Dalmatians (especially males) who are known to develop urate stones, so the dietary advice that follows should be of especially great benefit to Dalmatian breeders and owners.

Increasing the amount of liquid the dog drinks is the first advice to managing either kind of stone. You want to keep the urine diluted and flowing frequently, so that crystals are less likely to form, which means lots of fluid intake. In my case this presents a real problem since Scooby is some sort of canine camel: he never seems to get thirsty and rarely takes a drink. The other dogs slurp and gulp throughout the day, while Scooby often takes no more than one tentative sip. The suggestion was made to make his food or water salty to promote thirst but this just sounded all wrong to me and in fact adding salt to a dog’s diet creates health risks, including formations of stones!).

The first thing you can do to increase water intake is to make water more accessible and appealing by putting water bowls in various locations and changing the water frequently (I always change the water in the bowls a couple of times a day anyway, which I was “trained” to do by Lulu, my first rescued Weimeraner, a fussy female, who would not drink from any water bowl that the “boys” had already drunk from) (yes, I admit, I am a pathetic slave to my dogs’ pleasure and comfort!).  Some other tips to increase water intake are to flavor the water with sodium-free chicken bouillon and to offer ice cubes as treats.

Something your vet will want to check periodically is whether the dog has a urinary tract infection (UTI) – which is treated aggressively with antibiotics because even a mild unchecked infection can also lead to stone formation.

I began to research dietary ways to prevent urinary stones.  My own vet was diligent in combing the medical texts but unfortunately not much has been written about the role of food in managing the condition. This was not a big surprise, given the lack of general nutritional study in veterinary (or, for that matter, human) medical training.  Much of the information about beneficial food for stone-sufferers is not readily found, so you may want to share what you learn here with your vet and her staff.

A fundamental fact about dogs who form either kind of urinary stone is that you need to stay away from dry food: kibble cannot be the basis of the dog’s diet (nor should it be for any dog, but you’d have to read that section of THE DOG BIBLE to learn why). Feed home-cooked meals that are low in purines (see below) and or canned foods rather than dry food, which absorbs water in the dog’s system which can result in concentrated (stone-prone) urine.

A great source of dietary information is Mordanna, whose site it is, has steeped herself in the nutrition field; she also has a kitty who had surgery for (struvite) stones so she has paid special attention to this issue. Some of what she’s learned about stone formation seems to contradict the commonly held belief that to guard against stones a dog should get the lowest possible amount of animal protein. Her research showed her that avoiding foods high in purines is what makes a difference.

One thing I can say is that the U/D (urinary diet) food made by Hill’s Science Diet and sold exclusively by veterinarians was NOT the solution to my pet’s long-term health or even his short-term wellness. Anyone out there who is prescribed this food by their vet should give it a good, long look before jumping in as I did. But don’t take my word for it: just look at the bag and see for yourself what’s in there. I am embarrassed to say that I never actually looked at the ingredients on the U/D bag, embracing it unquestioningly as “medicinal” dietary protection. After Scooby’s brush with death I thought I was lucky to get U/D, blindly accepting that it would be his salvation.

I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t read the bag until I’d been feeding this food for a full month  – during which time Scooby Doo was always hungry yet at the same time gained unsightly weight that packed on in ripples of cellulite-like fat. He began shedding and his coat lost its luster. Only when I began to suspect the U/D food did I discover, to my horror, that there were basically two main ingredients in that food: pork fat and brewer’s rice, hardly ingredients I would choose to fortify my dog. I already knew from my research that “brewer’s rice” has no nutritional value except as filler – it is the leftover material discarded after rice is used to make liquor. And pork fat as a main source of nutrition??

After tossing out the U/D I experimented with a series of diets to manipulate the kind and amount of protein in Scooby’s diet. For two months I fed a commercially made soy-protein based food that seemed to neither satisfy his hunger nor alleviate the extra pounds he was packing – and then I learned that soy is apparently a poor food source for dogs, who cannot metabolize well it because of its amino-acid make-up. With continued seeking and experimentation I believe I have now come to a nice balanced solution – it is individual to my dog, his body type and exercise habits. I recommend that anyone whose dog has had urinary stones should experiment with different food combinations from the chart that follows, after discussing it with your vet. You’ll know you’ve found the right mix when your dog’s coat is looking good and his weight is within acceptable limits –and it will probably satisfy your dog’s hunger as well.

The dietary suggestions that follow are ONLY for dogs already forming stones and should be undertaken only in partnership with your vet. Please note that the advice for the two kinds of stones is markedly different so be sure you understand clearly what kind of stones your dog has a tendency to form so that you are helping the condition, not aggravating it.

STRUVITE STONE DIETARY ADVICE: You need the dog’s urine to be acidic so you need to include an “acidifier” like vitamin C or cranberry. You can put liquid vitamin C or open capsules into the food; see if he’ll drink cranberry juice or eat dried sweetened cranberries as a treat.

Reduce carbohydrates generally, beginning by reducing or eliminating dry food completely (it is dehydrating when what you want is to increase the fluid balance in the dog’s body). You want to give lots of protein of every and any kind. Along with high quality protein, you can offer raw or cooked vegetables. One way to do this is to boil up a big batch - chopped or shredded carrots, leafy green vegetables, peas, string beans, any greenery – adding some rice and/or potatoes and/or sweet potatoes. You can then freeze it in containers or bags.  And always add as much water to the food as your dog will tolerate. 

URATE STONE DIETARY ADVICE: You want to lower the concentration of uric acid in the urine by lowering purines, which occur primarily in meat proteins.  Despite what was once believed about protein, you want to avoid proteins (and other foods) with high purine content (see below) but give the dog proteins that are good for him.

GOOD PROTEINS: eggs (raw or cooked), any cheese (cottage cheese or ricotta are easy to use), milk, yogurt and poultry (chicken, turkey etc.).

PROTEINS TO AVOID: all fish and shellfish, red meats (even meat broth) and especially organ meats like liver, heart or kidneys.  

OTHER PURINE-RICH FOODS TO AVOID: oatmeal, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, lentils, peas, beans, cauliflower all have a lower purine content than the proteins but still should be avoided as possible.

USE LOW PURINE FOODS: nuts (including peanut butter), butter and other fats, bread, fruits and juices, all vegetables (except those above). 

To reduce the chance of urate stones in dogs who tend to form them is to keep their urine diluted and with a high urinary pH of about 7.0  - but no higher than that. (In Scooby’s case, his urinary pH was so low on the scale that I tried to acidify it with a spoonful of cranberries in his food – and he began to consistently measure between 6.0 and 7.0. Your goal is to maintain a consistently non-acidic environment in the urinary tract. You’ll need to use pH strips periodically to test whether your dog’s urine stays in that range.  I had trouble finding a pH test kit (my pharmacist sold me strips that test urinary ketones for diabetics!) but Mordanna hooked me up with a company in Florida called Vaxa International (800-248-8292) (or on the internet at that has a handy little kit, which works like testing the chlorine and Ph balance in a swimming pool. You hold a test strip under the dog’s stream of urine and compare the color to a chart on the test kit. Do not freak out (as I admit to doing!) when your dog’s urine tests at one extreme or the other. To get an accurate picture of what’s going on you should preferably check the urine several times a day. There’s a chance you will see wide variations, as I did, with either very low or high acidity, but some of the time his urine will be in the desirable neutral zone.

Please please please do not just go off and do this on your own: you have to manage your dog’s condition in partnership with your vet. She needs to support your independent efforts to manage the stone formation with diet – and if she won’t, you need to find a doctor who will. Your dog’s health and even his life depend on your being actively involved. 

Then, when you’ve done all of the above, you can resort to keeping your fingers crossed: there is some just plain luck in whether dogs with stones keep forming them!


Alternative Pracitioners

There is such wide variation in the advice, methods and training of the medical caregivers dispensing non-traditional care that the best way to guide those seeking an alternative to Western veterinary medicine is to recommend that you consult the list that follows. Keep in mind that you do not need to turn your back on traditional veterinary medicine just because you want to explore these options – in fact, there are many Western-trained vets who welcome alternative methods, have studied some themselves and advocate care that “bridges” between the disciplines.

Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy:; 866-652-1590
AltVetMed Complementary & Alternative Veterinary Medicine:
American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture:; 860-635-6300
American Veterinary Chiropractic Association:
International Alliance for Animal Therapy & Healing:; 530-795-5040
Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association:


More on Behavior and Communication Issues

Before you can ask a dog to do anything for you, you must satisfy the dog’s needs first. Once you have addressed your dog’s natural needs and instincts, you can bring his focus back on you so he’ll pay attention to what you want him to do. 

The three primary needs of dogs which we people can fulfill, in order to raise well-adjusted and content animals, are: a physical outlet for energy, companionship with people, and mental stimulation. All dogs have those three needs – whether it’s the enormous, mellow Scottish Deerhound or the tiny, effervescent Chihuahua. So even if you aren’t experiencing behavior problems you’ll be doing your dog a favor by following this advice.

1)  A PHYSICAL OUTLET FOR ENERGY is a fundamental need for all dogs, but most of all for the sporty breeds and the terriers. Dogs originally bred to do jobs with or for humans have an inherited drive to work. It is a genetically “hard-wired,” inborn desire to “go and do.” Dogs like this are often referred to by trainers as a “high drive” dog, and can even come from a breed not associated with working. If these dogs do not get a chance to run and play and have a task to burn up some of that energy, their frustration and pent-up energy is going to make it difficult for them to concentrate or settle down. General exercise is a must, but also more specific activities (obedience, agility, Rally-O, retrieving) may have more value to high-drive, high-energy pooches.

2) COMPANIONSHIP - or the chance to spend time by your side - is a profound need for dogs.  That close attachment is generally true of certain breeds, to whom it is vitally important to have their person always in sight. It can also be an aspect of an individual dog’s personality that is stronger for some than others. If you pay attention to the signals your dog gives you you’ll figure out if you have one of those super-attached dogs who needs more quality and quantity time with you (for example, Scooby Doo needs to be with me at any possible moment but patting or talking to him if I am not looking right at him is not as satisfying as if he has my full attention…seriously, he’ll physically or verbally make known his displeasure if my attention is elsewhere when he considers it “his” time. I don’t consider it “spoiled,” by the way, I look at it as excellent cross-species communication on his part!). “Companionship” can also apply to another dog or even a cat, but generally speaking dogs need to spend time with their people.

3) MENTAL STIMULATION is important for some types of dogs more than others – the herding breeds in particular. For dogs who crave novelty and challenge, anything like interactive play or new sights and sounds can satisfy the dog and tire her out in a healthy way. If you live in the country or use your car a lot, taking the dog with you as often as possible – whether or not she gets out when you do – can burn up a surprising amount of mental energy.  Satisfying the need of a dog who craves being engaged mentally is satisfied some of these needs will.

The net result of satisfying a dog’s natural needs is that you can then apply straightforward training ideology: reward the good, ignore the bad – or don’t allow the opportunity for it to occur. The basics are as simple as reinforcing him when he does what you want - by giving him something you know he really likes, which for many dogs may be a tasty treat, for others it may mean a chance to run free or play with a favorite toy. When there is something you don’t want a dog to do, the first thing is to be sure that you aren’t giving the dog the opportunity to do this forbidden thing. Every time a dog “rehearses” a behavior it is self-rewarding: just by doing that behavior the dog is rewarding himself and increasing the likelihood that he’ll do it again. For example, if your dog “counter surfs” then you cannot ever leave any food out in the kitchen; if he digs in the garbage can, it must be put out in an inaccessible location. All of this is covered in Chapter Ten, “Teaching Manners,” as well as throughout the book.


Explaining the Controversy About Pit Bulls

On pages 22-23 of the book I have a section with warnings and advice about Pit Bulls which does not fully explain the complex issues about this breed. Until I can remedy this deficit in the next edition of The Dog Bible, I will expand and explain further what is known about the pleasures and pitfalls of this popular – although often maligned – breed. On the one hand, there have been tragic Pit Bull attacks on humans (especially in the Bay Area of California where the breed is popular and there are thousands of Pit Bulls). These horrible maulings have left people with the incorrect belief that Pit Bulls are a vicious, dangerous breed that should be banned. On the other side are the defenders and lovers of the breed, who feel it has been unfairly singled out for discrimination because of a few “rotten apples” (and that the humans who own those few are at fault). I will attempt to get at the truth, which lies somewhere between.

Pit Bulls are not bred to be human-aggressive – in fact, this breed is actually intended to be Lab-like in its tolerance for any kind of handling by people. In fact, I have heard that even the sorry souls who use Pit Bulls for dog fighting rely on the fact that they can reach in and grab their dog without that dog turning on them (and it is said that any fighting Pit Bull is destroyed who displays aggression to a person handling him during a fight). In any case, one of the strong characteristics of the breed is their desire for human attention, especially touch. This affectionate side is one of the reasons that these dogs are so beloved by the people who have them as pets, along with their loyal and playful disposition and a reported trainability based on an eagerness to learn and please.

Therefore, there is something inherently wrong with any pit bull who would challenge a human over any object or command. In theory, a good Pit Bull would not even defend himself against a human. Professionals and knowledgeable owners have adopted a zero tolerance for any aggressive behavior – either defensive or offensive – by a Pit bull (or really any of the large strong breeds). This needs to be a firm policy to keep people safe and restore or maintain a good reputation for a breed. A shelter with a well-trained staff will carefully evaluate every Pit Bull and Pit-Mix for aggressive tendencies; a shelter fortunate enough to have the resources will then have the dog live for several weeks in a foster home situation with knowledgeable people who can complete the dog’s evaluation. This means that Pit Bulls displaying any aggression must be screened from the population.

The potential for danger in a Pit Bull is higher than other types of dog because:

  • Pits have a strong drive to chase things
  • They have an intolerance towards other dogs (or smaller animals like cats)
  • Pits can be unable to control their excitement level, “losing” themselves if they get too wound up - even when playing
  • If a Pit Bull decides he is going to attack something, there is nothing that can stop him once he gets going.

These are qualities inherent to the breed, which people who chose a Pit need to know so they can choose their dog accordingly and train with these issues in mind.

The Marin County Humane Society in Northern California continues to adopt out Pits and Pit-mixes after careful evaluation, and suggests that if you want to learn more about Pit bulls, go to (for Bad Rap, or Bay Area (Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls).

A Film about the Exploitation of Pit Bulls

American Pit Bulls once had a stellar place in our culture: Petey was the canine star of “Our Gang” on television – Victor was the RCA dog listening to the gramophone - the logo for Buster Brown shoes was a Pit bull and Stubby was the most decorated dog in American history, receiving numerous medals and the honorary rank of Sergeant for his services in WWI. President Theodore Roosevelt had a Pit and so did Helen Keller. Now there is a documentary film that explores the evolution of the breed and tries to answer how a dog once beloved is now believed to be a “public menace” and is banned in some areas.

“Off the Chain” is a new documentary film that offers a disturbing look behind the scenes at the people who participate in the gruesome world of dog fighting - while also showing the loving nature of the breed. The film is available in DVD and is being sold through the Humane Society of the United States, which will receive one third of the sale price. To order go to and use the redemption code HSUSOTC so that the Humane Society will receive their donation from the filmmaker.






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