Daily Archives: April 26, 2010

TLC Book Tour and Giveaway – Chow Hounds

Chowhounds, by Ernie Ward, DVM
ISBN 978-0-7573-1366-0
Published by Health Communications Inc (March 2010)

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to tour Chowhounds, by Ernie Ward DVM.


Read my review.

From the Press Release:

As a practicing vet and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Ernie Ward, DVM exposes why we, as a nation, have created a Perfect Storm of Portly Pets: pet food manufacturers have tweaked their foods to the point that they have addicted our dogs to sugar and fat; pet food labels are so confusing that most owners overfeed their pets by 25 percent; some pet food formulas are too high in carbohydrates, causing and escalating number of “carboholic” dogs; and our sedentary lifestyle has turned active dogs into couch potatoes.

Read more reviews by following the links for the TLC Book Tour.


Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM is a practicing veterinarian who has appeared regularly on the Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured on Animal Planet, NBC Nightly News, and CNN. He has authored and contributed to over forty-five veterinary journal articles in North America, England, Canada, Japan, and China, and has published two training videos. He lectures extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe, and China, and was awarded the Speaker of the Year award from the North American Veterinary Conference in 2004. Read more about Dr. Ward and his work by visiting the author’s website.


*click on photo to enjoy a larger view

I thought it would be fun to do a little piece on Raven related to what I learned by reading Chowhounds. Some facts about Raven:

  • She is a purebred German Shepherd.
  • She is 15 months old.
  • She weighs approximately 60 pounds (which is on the small side for a female German Shepherd).
  • She suffers from allergies, for which she is treated with a combination of herbal remedies, acupuncture and diet. These interventions have been successful in managing her allergies.
  • She is VERY active. Normally she spends two days a week at a day care center for dogs where she plays all day with other dogs on a fenced property. We take her for daily walks. She plays ball, tug and “find it” games every day.

I calculated Raven’s caloric needs (based on Dr. Ward’s recommendations) and found she needs 1400 K-Cals per day (which comes out to 3 cups of her dog food). Raven is a picky eater – sometimes (if she has had a more sedentary day) she only eats 2 cups per day, sometimes (especially on days she spends at the day care) she eats 4 cups. I think she pretty much averages out to 3 or 3.5 cups per day.  Since she is actually pretty thin, I am not concerned about her eating too much at this time. But, we’ll monitor her as she gets older.

We feed Raven a high end commercial dry dog food which is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages. It is Nature’s Variety Instinct (a grain-free Duck Meal and Turkey Meal formula) which has no artificial colors (the carbohydrate comes from Tapioca). I am pretty happy with Raven’s diet right now. But I plan on supplementing it with some of Dr. Ward’s home cooked meals.

In Dr. Ward’s book, there is a section on how to assess the weight of your dog. He recommends viewing your dog from the side, rear, and above…and feeling your dog. Below are photos I took of Raven with a brief descriptor of my assessment.

**Click on any photo to enjoy a larger view.

Step 1: View Your Dog From the Side

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the neck and shoulder region disproportionally large compared to the head?
  • The chest should be wider than the stomach (ie: you should see a gradual sloping of the body as you look toward the hips)
  • Do you see rolls of fat and fur around the neck?
  • Are the size of the legs relative to the body (ie: do the legs looks too small when compared to the torso)? Fitness can be determined by the amount of muscles and size of the legs, especially the rear legs.

My Assessment: Raven has good overall proportions when viewed from the side. Her chest is definitely wider than her stomach (and she does not have any fat on her stomach). In that first photo you can really see the outline of her rear leg muscles. She’s a powerful little dog!

Step #2: View Your Dog From the Rear

A lean healthy pet should look sleek and streamlined when viewed from the rear. Any bulging that you see should be from the upper legs, and not the hip and lower back region. – from Chowhounds, page 74 of the ARC –

My Assessment: Raven has a cute little waist – her bulges are from the strong rear leg muscles. German Shepherds have large torsos, and you can see that clearly on Raven…but there is no fat there!

Step #3: View Your Dog From Above

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the neck seem too wide for your pet’s head?
  • Does the chest seem to be disproportionately large when compared to the size of your pet’s head?
  • Do you see a waist when viewed from above?
  • Does your pet have a slight hourglass figure?

My Assessment: Raven appears proportional when viewed from above. She definitely has a waist (you can see this especially in the second photo), in fact, she is a little on the thin side. Her “hourglass” is easy to see.

Step #4: Feel Your Pet

With your pet standing, feel the ribs. You should be able to easily, with very little pressure applied, feel and count your pet’s ribs. In very lean, muscular, and fit pets, you may even see the faint outline of three or four ribs. – from Chowhounds, page 75 of the ARC –

Dr. Ward also asks that you feel your pet’s stomach. There should be no loose, sagging belly. You should also be able to feel your dog’s backbone  and hip bones easily.

My Assessment: Raven is very muscular. I could easily feel her ribs, backbone and hip bones. She has no flab on her belly. Her muscles are well developed, especially in the rear.

Based on the overall assessment, I would classify Raven as Thin-Normal.

Have you assessed YOUR dog? If so, is he/she too thin, normal, or overweight? If you don’t know, it is time to find out!!



Thanks to the generosity of  book publisher Health Communications Inc., I am happy to offer TWO copies of Chowhounds for giveaway.  It is simple to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment on this post telling me something fun about your dog (if you don’t have a dog, tell me why you want to win the book!)
  2. U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only please.
  3. Comments will close on May 4th at 5:00 PM (PST)
  4. I will draw TWO winners using Random.org on May 5th and announce their names here on my blog. Please make sure that when you complete the comment form, you leave a legitimate email address so I can contact you for your snail mail should you win.

That’s it!! Good Luck!

Chow Hounds – Book Review

And what if your dog isn’t obese but is just toting around a few extra pounds? Owners who view their dog’s “few extra pounds” as no big deal are greatly underestimating the potential health threat. Even as few as two or three extra pounds may be silently damaging your dog’s vital organs. – from Chowhounds, page 1 of the ARC –

Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian who has authored or contributed to more than 45 veterinary journal articles worldwide, has written a book which just may save your dog’s life.  Chowhounds is a user-friendly manual for dog owners that not only gives you the frightening statistics around canine obesity (in 2008 nearly half the dogs in a pet obesity study were found to be overweight or obese), but tells you how to slim your dog down to a healthy weight.

The book is divided into several sections – beginning with the statistics around the problem, then taking the reader through the complicated maze of pet food labeling, then helping the layperson assess their dog’s weight, and finally giving the answers to the problem: choosing a good commercial dog food, supplementing your dog’s diet with home cooking, exercise (for you AND your canine), and troubleshooting.

Before I read this book, I thought I knew a good deal about dogs and how to feed them – I’ve raised five German Shepherds from puppies and none of them were overweight. But I was amazed to discover that weight itself may not be the key to a healthy dog. Dr. Ward’s section on deciphering the label on a bag of commercial dog food was very interesting to me, although I must admit the complexity of it made my eyes glaze over a bit.

Not surprisingly, the pet food companies have figured out what to add to dog food to make our dogs want to eat more food: sugar, fat and salt are the primary additives which increase the desire for a dog to eat more than is healthy for them.

The primary concern is that sugar and fat contribute greatly to weight gain because they are higher in calories. However, even more dangerous is that when many animals eat foods rich in sugar, fat, or salt, they want to eat more, regardless of whether or not they should. – from Chowhounds, page 11 of the ARC –

Sounds like dogs are not that much different than people, doesn’t it?

Some of Dr. Ward’s advice is just commonsense – such as tracking how many “treats” you give your dog. I did enjoy his comparison charts in this section which show the reader the effects of dog treats in human terms. For example, if I give Raven (who weighs approximately 60 pounds) one Good-Life wholesome bone, it is like me eating FOUR Kentucky Fried chicken breasts. Yikes!

One of the most helpful sections for me was the section on choosing a commercial dog food. Dr. Ward breaks down the contents for the reader in easy to understand terms: Calories, Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates. He also specifies what to avoid (such as artificial colors – dogs don’t see color like we do!). Following this section, is a fun section on how to supplement your dog’s food with home cooked meals. I enjoyed looking through the recipes and have decided to try out a few of these with Raven who is a picky eater! For example, check out this recipe:

Turkey Meatballs (makes 30)

6 oz. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup ground quinoa or oatmeal
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of kelp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beef and carrots in food processor and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until mixed. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on nonstick cooking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  (calories per meatball = 17)

Overall, Chowhounds is a useful book for dog owners who care about the health and fitness of their pet. Some sections may be a little too technical for readers…but that is really a minor complaint. Understanding the caloric needs of our dogs, as well as their fitness requirements, is essential to preventing early onset arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases related to obesity. Even if your dog is NOT overweight, Chowhounds is a good reference tool for selecting healthy food for your dog.

Highly recommended for dog owners.

Read more about the book and author on my TLC Book Tour post (I’ve also included photos and an assessment of Raven based on the information in the book). This post also offers you a chance to win a copy of Chowhounds. Contest ends May 4th.

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Mailbox Monday – April 26, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday hosted each Monday on Marcia’s blog The Printed Page.

Here is where I share the latest books to arrive at my home.

This is what arrived this week:

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummings arrived from Angela at The Penguin Group. This novel is due for release June 1st though New American Library and it looks wonderful. The press release reads (in part): ‘[The Outside Boy is]… a poignant, unforgettable coming-of-age story that brings 1950s Ireland to vivid life. [Jeanine Cummins]…tenderly explores the universal bonds of family, community, and identity…‘ Early praise sites Cummins’ book as poignant, poetic, and powerful.

Jeanine Cummins published her memoir (A Rip in Heaven) in 2004 which quickly became a bestseller. Cummins was born in Spain, but grew up in Maryland. She later moved to Ireland for several years before returning to the United States to immerse herself in the publishing world of New York City. The Outside Boy is Cummins’ debut novel. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and young daughter. Learn more about Cummins and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Everything is Broken by Emma Larkin arrived from Penguin Press thanks to TLC Book Tours. I will be touring this book on June 9th, so be sure to  come back then to read my review. This is a nonfiction book which takes a look at chaotic days and months which followed the May 2, 2008 tropical cyclone that made landfall Burma. The storm claimed an official toll of 138,300 dead and missing, but what was more shocking was the Burmese government’s unthinkable response to this catastrophe. Their decision to block international aid from entering the country resulted in hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens going without food, drinking water, and basic shelter…even though relief was available.

In Everything is Broken, Emma Larkin (an American who writes under a pseudonym) unveils  the motivations of a regime whose brutal dictatorship continues to suppress its people.

What books found their way into YOUR home this week?