Search Books:

Join our mailing list:

Recent Articles

The Mystery Murder Case of the Century
by Robert Tanenbaum

by Anna Godbersen

Songs of 1966 That Make Me Wish I Could Sing
by Elizabeth Crook

The Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina Keegan

Remembering Ethel Merman
by Tony Cointreau

The Eleven Nutritional Commandments for Joint Health
by Richard Diana


Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
By Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD and, Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Published by Rodale
September 2005;$18.95US/$25.95CAN; 1-57954-973-X

In the third, revised edition of this groundbreaking text on holistic dog and cat care, Dr. Richard Pitcairn once again outlines his program for helping pets obtain complete wellness, from their puppyhood and kittenhood throughout old age. In this updated edition, he:

  • Presents fully revised recipes to reflect products currently on the market
  • Reveals information on what consumers don't know about the pet food industry
  • Includes detailed information on homeopathic medicine and first aid procedures
  • Provides tips on traveling with pets
  • Uncovers ways to safeguard the home against toxins -- both inside and out
  • Has expanded the Quick Reference section to include today's more common ailments

For more than 20 years, this classic guide has been equally invaluable to both veterinarians and pet guardians alike. Make this your first choice in raising your pet in the most natural and healthy way possible.

Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, opened the Animal Natural Health Center, a clinic offering only holistic animal care, in 1985. Recently retired from practice, he teaches post-graduate courses in homeopathic medicine to veterinarians.

Susan Hubble Pitcairn was a major contributor to the first two editions of this book. As the third edition goes to press, she is splitting her time between artistic pursuits and the support of positive social change.

"The third edition of this 'landmark' text is welcome and will take up space on my bookshelf, as well as the bookshelves of many of my colleagues and clients." --Carvel G. Tiekert, DVM, founder, American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association

"If you want your dog and cat to live a longer, healthier life, then this easy-to-use and well-researched book is a must for you." --Christina Chambreau, DVM, holistic veterinarian

"Dr. Richard Pitcairn again demonstrates why he is so respected in his field. This book should be required reading for anyone seeking true, lasting health for their animals and will continue to be a must-read for my clients." --Larry A. Bernstein, VMD

"For many of my clients, Dr. Pitcairn's book is their trusted holistic health guide for their canine and feline companions' needs -- a must-read for those embarking on the worthwhile journey towards restoration of their pets' health and happiness." --David Evans, DVM, Natural Care Clinic for Pets

The following is an excerpt from the book Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
Published by Rodale; September 2005;$18.95US/$25.95CAN; 1-57954-973-X
Copyright © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Selecting a Healthy Animal

The tables that follow will alert you to potential problems in various breeds and mixed breeds. But how can you tell if a particular animal is healthy. Here is a "checkup" list you can use to pinpoint any congenital defects present. It also helps assess the likelihood of chronic health problems to come.

  • What color is the coat? White animals, beautiful as they are, often fall victim to extra problems, such as skin cancers or deafness in white, blue-eyed cats. (Test for deafness by clapping your hands behind the animal's head.) Gray collies sometimes have a blood immune problem, with increased susceptibility to infection.
  • Check the nose and jaws. Are they unusually long and pointed or unusually short and pushed in? Odd shapes here should act as a warning against trouble with teeth and gums, in addition to potential respiratory problems.
  • Are the upper and lower jaws the same size? Do the teeth fit together well? (This particularly applies to dogs.) Are the gums pale or inflamed? Is there a red line at the edge of the gums next to the teeth?
  • Are the eyes normal-looking? Are they both the same color? Be cautious about eye trouble if the eyes are unusually small or large compared to other canines or felines. Discharges from the eyes signal plugged tear ducts, because tears and liquids would ordinarily be discharged through the nasal cavity.
  • Does the animal move normally? Or does it swing its hips from side to side as it walks -- a warning sign of possible canine hip dysplasia? Are the legs a normal length, and are the front and back legs in the right proportion relative to each other?
  • Does the pigmentation over the nose look normal? If not, the animal may be subject to sunburn and skin cancer.
  • Observe the animal carefully for normal temperament. Be wary of animals that seem unusually aggressive, clinging, jealous, fearful, suspicious, hyperactive, noisy, or unaware. Whether because of inheritance or environment, such problems may be difficult to live with and even harder to correct. If you want a playful or affectionate animal, choose the one that responds to your overtures. Roll a dog on its back and hold him there. If he fights to get up, he may be difficult to train and aggressive. A dog that keeps its tail low or acts submissive will be the most devoted and easiest to train.

Once you have the trust of the animal (and with the owner's assistance, if necessary), take a closer look for problem signs.

  • Is the coat attractive? Does it look and smell healthy and clean, or is it slightly greasy or thin? Are there reddish patches? Is the skin light pink or off-white in color, pliant and firm, or are some areas unusually thin, thick, dry, dark, red, or crusty? Is the skin covered with fleas?
  • Does the animal breathe quietly and easily? Raspy, heavy sounds, especially after a little exertion, are not good signs.
  • Look inside the ears. Check for any signs of inflammation or dark, waxy discharge. This could signal a chronic tendency toward ear trouble.
  • Feel around the navel. You're looking for a lump, which could be a sign of a hernia.
  • Check the scrotum in an adult male for the presence of both testicles.

In spite of the many problems inappropriate breeding has caused, it is still possible to find a genetically healthy animal or one with only minor problems. If you don't plan to breed the animal and don't mind the extra work of caring for an animal with inherited problems, you can select from a wider variety. Although you cannot always foresee or control potential congenital problems, with just a bit of common sense you can actually do a great deal to minimize the risks. In the process, you will be doing a big favor not only for your own animals and yourself, but also for those whose time is yet to come.

Choosing the Best Pet for You

When choosing a dog or cat, pick a breed that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Both dogs and cats vary widely in their temperaments and their needs, often along breed lines. Every day humane societies must euthanize healthy animals turned in because their unhappy owners did not anticipate certain issues. For instance, a mild-mannered person would be unwise to select a large dog from a breed that tends to dominate the owner. Similarly, a family with toddlers in the house should choose a breed less likely to snap at children. Those who live in an apartment with no yard should pick an animal suited to smaller confines, such as the Korat cat.

It is also important to consider size variations when you are selecting a dog. Clusters of traits tend to accompany size. Small dogs, for example, may be especially active and have a high demand for affection. Large dogs tend to be quieter and more patient with children. Dogs that are unusually large or unusually small tend to have the most genetic problems, especially structural ones. Larger and more active dogs require the most space and consume the most food, which involves economic and ecological considerations. For example, a 70- to 80-pound dog needs as many calories every day as an adult woman. So if you plan to feed your dog a natural diet, as recommended in this book, it will be easier to deal with a smaller dog. Many people find it too expensive or too much work to prepare food for a larger dog. Such dogs almost always end up on a diet of commercial food, with the accompanying lower level of health.

Copyright © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn

Reprinted from: Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn  © 2005 Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, and Susan Hubble Pitcairn Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at

For more information, please visit