Great book by Ted Kerasote
Pukka's Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs: Ted Kerasote: 9780547236261: Amazon.com: Books
This reviewer summed it up much better than I could:
This hefty book begins as a heartwarming tale of a man, who after the loss of his dog, Merle, launches an exhaustive search for a new dog/companion/friend. Ted Kerasote is not a common man so his search for a new dog was anything but quick and easy. It took YEARS.
After the first few chapters of the book I was laughing, crying and cheering when Ted finally found his Pukka and brought him home. But soon after Pukka arrives in Kelly, Wyoming the tone of the book changes to something less jovial. Ted's mission is to give Pukka the healthiest/longest life possible, and this quest involves countless hours of research, interviews, and site visits. All this work uncovers, bit by bit, why our dogs are dying so young. Reading chapter after chapter I felt outrage, indignation, pity, and shame. Shame at my own stupidity. I care deeply for my dog, so why didn't I know any of this stuff!
The lessons this book are too numerous to mention, but a few that I found the most informative/interesting are:
* Genetics and how a limited gene pool is causing health problems of purebred dog. One statistic was quoted that only 5% of male Golden Retrievers in the United Kingdom get to pass on their genes.
* How the Kennel Clubs (British and American) reward appearance over function/health, and how these dog-as-fashion trends are crippling some of the breeds.
* How the "coefficient of inbreeding" should be used when selecting a purebred dog. Too much inbreeding intensifies genetic flaws and health issues in the breed.
* The growing evidence that the span between dog vaccinations should be increased. That once vaccinated for rabies the dog can be protected for 3-7 years. Parvo, distemper and adenovirus-2 also have a duration of immunity in excess of seven years.
* Depending on where you live (and how cold it gets), monthly doses of heartworm treatment may also be unnecessary.
* A lively debate on the pros and cons of selecting a dog from breeder vs a shelter.
* A lengthy discussion on dog nutrition. Should they be fed grains and carbohydrates? Is a raw diet the best or are kibbles okay? Ted also documents what raw products go into kibbles, and describes the manufacturing processes. Ted also warns of PFCs (Teflon-like chemicals) found in the stain-resistant and grease-proof coating of kibble bags. Who knew!!! I didn't!
* How to protect your dog from environmental contaminates: herbicides, carcinogens, neurotoxins, pesticides, etc. He talks about the dangers of PBDEs (fire-retardant polybrominated diphenyl ethers) that are found in carpets, furniture, and some dog beds. Reduce your dog's intake of phthalates by replacing plastic blows with stainless steel or glass. The effect of GMO (genetically modified organisms)on human and animal health.
* There is also a chapter on the "rendered products" that make up dog kibbles. This chapter was was both fascinating and disgusting at the same time.
* The chapter "Whom Shall We Eat?" brings up the moral dilemma that if every pet is fed a 100% meat diet then how many other animals (cow, chicken, pig) must be raised and slaughtered for consumption.
* There is a chapter discussing the ever increasing number of dogs being stricken with cancer. The chapter also discusses which cancers are most common in which breeds and preventative measures that could be taken to hopefully protect our dogs.
* There is a chapter giving an in-depth discussion of no-kill and traditional shelters with statistics on kill rates around the world. Ted also gives us a "day-in-the-life" of a shelter which includes a heartbreaking segment on dogs and cats being euthanized. I admit that chapter made me cry.
* One of the last chapters goes into alternatives to spay and neutering. I didn't realize that female dogs could get tubal ligation or hysterectomy and males could get a vasectomy as an alternative to spay/neuter. Ted also discusses the adverse health effects (cancer) that spay/neutering has on pets.
* There is a short but interesting section on cloning and a summary of current genetic research looking into increasing life spans.
At the end of this 384 page book I really believe my knowledge, understanding, and love for my dog has increased 100-fold. Thank you Ted Kerasote for opening my eyes to to all the dangers that my sweet baby girl is exposed to on a daily basis.