Book Review: Dr Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats

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Book Review: Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats

by Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM, PhD & Susan Hubble Pitcairn

As I purchased this book to learn about the Pitcairn ethos of canine nutrition, it is primarily those pages I will be speaking about in my review here.

This is a large A4 sized book containing 466 pages covering such topics as canine & feline nutrition, grooming, creating a healthy environment for your pet and caring for a sick animal. It does not stop there though, also covering topics that many authors overlook. For example, the emotional connections between you and your pet’s health, coping with your pet’s death, and alternative therapies.

The first 118 pages, and the ones I was most interested in at this stage, are on nutrition.

Dr Pitcairn tells of his last ditch effort to help one of his patients with chronic ailments, of which conventional medicine only offered temporary relief. Feeling that he had nothing else to offer and nothing to lose, he suggested to the owners of this dog that they trial feed the dog a natural diet of fresh meats, vegetables, fruits & grains, to see if he may improve. To the pet owner’s & Dr Pitcairn’s delight, this old fellow came bounding into his surgery like a young pup some months later. From there, Dr Pitcairn started suggesting to the owners of other patients with chronic problems that they too try a natural diet. The results were staggering.

Chapter 2 is entitled “What’s Really in Pet Food”. Nineteen pages later, feeling nauseous & angry at the pet food industry I was eager to get into Chapter 3 “Try a Basic Natural Diet – With Supplements”.

Most of Chapters 3 through 6 are involved with feeding a raw diet, primarily without bones, but with calcium supplements instead. Dr Pitcairn does not come across as anti-cooking, or anti-bone, but these clearly are not his preferred ways of feeding. He does suggest that if meats are to be cooked, they should be only lightly browned to retain their nutrients. Bones seem to be offered more as a snack or recreation, rather than as an important part of the diet. Suggestions are made as to how much to feed & sample menus are provided. All of the recipes provided contain multiple supplements, such as calcium, vitamins A, E, Iron etc, though not necessarily all in any one recipe. There are also recipes for special needs animals eg puppies, kittens, orphans, the overweight and toppings to be added for those who wish to use kibble as the base feed.

For those who wish to feed a primarily raw diet, with supplements added, but without much in the way of bone, Dr Pitcairn’s diets may be just the answer. Those who wish to include plenty of RMB (raw meaty bones) in the diet will have to look elsewhere, as would those wishing to provide mainly cooked meals, or meals that are so complete in their nutritional content that supplements need not be added.

Though I have not & am unlikely to become a Pitcairn convert having read this book, I have found this section on nutrition to be extremely educational, valuable & encouraging. It has hugely boosted my confidence that I have all that it takes to provide my dogs with healthy, well balanced meals. It has also reinforced my resolve to leave the pet food industry out of the equation when it comes to caring for my beloved dogs.

As stated earlier, the rest of the book covers a huge variety of topics. So even for those who are not interested in Dr Pitcairn’s method of feeding, there is still plenty to appeal to just about any dog or cat lover. This is one of those books that I know I will be referring back to when situations arise and I am pleased to have it in my bookcase.

Would I recommend buying this book? You betcha!

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