Interesting Reads for Dog Lovers


It’s probably self-evident that most writers and editors enjoy reading. We read professionally, and also for fun.

Lately, though, my reading has been getting in the way of writing! There has been an absolute plethora of fantastic articles about dogs in the past few weeks, and just today, I got a message from my browser indicating that it was going slow due to the sheer number of open tabs. I often leave articles open on the screen, so when I have a few spare minutes, I can click on one and read something great and not lose it. But there were just too many open and unread! So I had an idea: I can share some of the reading that has been tempting and then fascinating me with you! And hopefully get to the end of some of these pieces!

“Rotating diets: antidote to pet-food recall risks?”

Well, I loved this one – by a writer I hugely admire on a site that consistently presents great writing on veterinary topics – but also because I was happy to read about veterinarians who agree with WDJ’s long-standing advice to rotate diets, and not just feed the same food (or even different products from the same company) year after year. I didn’t agree with every point in the piece, but I was just happy to see the concept of changing foods to try to hedge one’s bets, nutritionally speaking, that, over time, one’s dog will get everything he needs, and not too much of other nutrients.

One fact about “complete and balanced diets” that rarely gets pointed out: The nutrient levels in foods that meet the standards required in order to make the “complete and balanced” claim are NOT ALL THE SAME. There is tremendous variation in the amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as the macronutrients (protein, fat, and fiber) found in dog foods. A product’s qualification as “complete and balanced” in no way guarantees that it will be an appropriate diet for every dog for the dog’s entire lifetime.

“Rabies Kills Tens of Thousands Yearly. Vaccinating Dogs Could Stop It.”

This is interesting, and something that few of us consider in the U.S. and Canada (where the bulk of our subscribers live). Our rabies vaccination rates are so high, that canine rabies is considered eradicated. The phrase “eradicated” is sort of a misnomer, however, because rabies is still common in wildlife, including bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, and if an unvaccinated dog is bitten by a rabid wild animal and goes untreated, he absolutely will develop rabies and die. What they mean in the article by “eradicated” is that the strain of rabies most commonly seen in dogs is eradicated in the U.S., but any strain of rabies (such as the strains most commonly seen in bats or skunks) can infect and kill any other species of mammal.

Anyway, in this country, we regard rabies as an uncommon, even rare, threat presented by wildlife. But in other parts of the world, dogs themselves are the carriers (and of course victims), and startling numbers of human deaths are directly attributable to bites from rabid dogs.

Just for fun, here is another link, from the Centers for Disease Control, about the rabies threat from wildlife in the U.S.

“How a 6,000 year old Dog Cancer Spread Around the World.”

One of our long-time contributors, Barbara Dobbins, has been writing a series of long, in-depth articles about the most common canine cancers. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say about this one. Really interesting stuff. Kind of above my pay grade, but fascinating.

“Bad Science and Big Business Are Behind the Biggest Pet Food Story in a Decade”

This author has some fascinating observations to make about the FDA’s news releases about canine dilated cardiomyopathy and diet. In my opinion, he’s not right about everything, and he admits that he has a particular bias regarding the topic (he makes and sells a pea-heavy, grain-free line of dog foods, and has published a book bashing the pet food industry.) But he raises some very good points – in particular, #6, #7, and #9. See what you think.

You may need a free account to view the next article, but I wanted to share it anyway:

“Why Are There So Many Books About Dogs?”

A question I have asked myself many times! Here, the mystery is addressed by canine cognition researchers Vanessa Woods and Brian Hare (themselves the authors of the book, The Genius of Dogs). It’s a soft piece that basically just celebrates our modern closeness to and love and appreciation of dogs. Nice.

There are more tabs, but I think you get the idea. I feel very lucky, to be living in the  era so well described by Woods and Hare, when there is so much good information about writing about dogs out there for the reading.


  1. Just a. Trick for saving those articles you want to read but don’t quite have time for now; I just click on the address bar to turn the article into a text page, then email it to myself to read when I have the time. Easier to remember than saving it to Read Later for me.

  2. First, thanks to Randy for his brilliant suggestion. And second, a quick comment about rabies. Hundreds of thousands of dogs are being imported into the US from third world countries every year. Most of them stray street dogs. Which are then transported by the so-called “retail rescues” for “adoption” by unsuspecting American families. The result is that we’ve seen more than one case of rabies (not to mention other diseases not seen in the US) brought in by these dogs. Instead of focusing on rescuing dogs from shelters, maybe we should be paying attention to where these animals are coming from.

    • Mostly street dogs? Not so sure about that. I’ve met owners of these rescues in puppy class – that’s right – they adopted Korean meat dog puppies – and one looked like a miniature poodle! Seems like at least some of these overseas ‘rescues’ are really sourced from for-profit puppy mills.

  3. Carole makes an excellent point about the importation of dogs. You just never know whether they’ve been fully vetted (pun intended). You would hope so, but you never know. I would think that the best bet would be to deal with a rescue organisation that you trust.

    Also on the subject of rabies: some people in rural areas DON’T BOTHER to vaccinate their pets, especially in the South (sigh).

  4. Last year during The Spring and Summer months in New York City Central Park we had an outbreak of distemper in the racoons.

    Nearly a hundred died and or were captured by parks Dept.

    With the racoons being sick and unafraid of dogs, many dogs were bitten.

    It was unsafe to allow dogs off leash during this time which was very unfortunate.

    Although I have zero evidence I wondered many times if distemper wasn’t brought to the park by the influx of dogs coming from overseas. Many being saved from the Korean meat markets.

  5. I volunteer with a rescue and have fostered and adopted for many years. When we take a dog from the reservation, it never fails they are sick or getting sick…parvo, distemper, valley fever, URI, Giardia, coccidia round tape hook worms and tick fever. My point, it not just dogs from overseas..its dogs that have not been taken care and vetted properly.
    There are so many sick, injured, pregnant, starving dogs, animals are suffering here in our own back yards, on the reservations..We should take care of our own rather then bring dogs and diseases from other countries. Theres more then enough dogs to help and save right here in the U.S.

    • Amen!!! I adopted a puppy from Pinal county animal control that they had found on a reservation. After him just 4 weeks he had developed full blown distemper. There wasn’t any way to save precious boy. I miss him every day.

  6. As always, a very interesting article and I have bookmarked those. But I do have to ask…where did the accompanying picture of the dog come from? It could be our Clem, who came down down from a reservation in northern Manitoba! I have never taken a better picture of her!

  7. It might be easy for us to ” judge ” those who don’t properly take care of their pets as we do, but when I read several comments about dogs coming from “reservations” or other countries, it brought to mind that many of these people are struggling with issues of life that far outweigh their thoughts of animal welfare. I know…I know…I know what you are thinking. I’ve thought the same thoughts and shed the same tears for the pets…but I try to remember their struggles.

    • I think communities that have veterinary practices should also offer low cost spay/neuter and vaccinations. I know during the last reccession, many food banks also offered dog food.
      We adopted our English Lab/Mastiff mix because his previous owners couldn’t take care of him any longer (I don’t know their circumstances. I do know that he was very much loved, well taken care of (too well fed, certainly), and beautifully trained).

      The ones who really anger me are the folks who see their pets as things and don’t vaccinate them and allow them to run loose.

  8. And Jeannie, no judgment implied by the use of the word reservation. In our province the overwhelming majority of rescue dogs are ‘rez dogs’ so this is a statement of origin and reality. The numbers are staggering as are so many of the case stories. I know full well that this is because their lives simply mirror those of many of the human inhabitants with whom they live in proximity. Our vet is one of many who does volunteer fly in clinics to vaccinate and spay and neuter and the scale of the problem for both animals and humans breaks her heart. Clem had terrible mange when she was transported down here but that was all. She shines with intelligence and good health just as her twin in the picture does.

  9. Ms Kearns, this reply is about rabies vaccinations. I am totally on board w minimal vaccination, but rabies is required by law – both to renew my dog’s annual municipal licence (Animal Control will visit me if I don’t), and to allow him to be boarded should I need to travel. There’s no way out, although I have a medical waiver exempting him from DHPP and Bordetella due to a medical condition. Titres for rabies are not legally accepted. I’m concerned, but must balance my dog’s needs against my preferences.

  10. Animals that come into the USA from overseas are quarantined at Paris Island until their health status is known. Unvaccinated pets are from the US. Yes, probably from Reservations but also from anti-vaxers. We all need to believe in science.