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.

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    • JoAnn on April 27, 2010 at 03:44

    Sounds like I need to take a look at this one! We’ll be adopting a retired greyhound within the next month or so (after being dogless for several years) and weight control was one of the issues stressed by the rescue group. Thanks for the review, Wendy.

  1. Sounds like a good book. We had friends in Auburn who were both vets and they fed their dogs nothing but boiled chicken and rice.

    • Serena on April 27, 2010 at 08:59

    I really enjoyed this book, but you are right that breakdown of food labels in dog food made me glaze over.

    • Lisamm on April 27, 2010 at 09:33

    ONE Good Life bone is the equivalent of FOUR KFC chicken breasts? That is just shocking!! I’m sure I’m doing practically everything wrong with my dog.

    Thanks so much for being on the tour for this eye-opening book!

  2. I read another review of this book that was wonderful as well. I have a little piggy-dog living with me that I think could really benefit from this book, so I am off to enter your giveaway!!

    • Laura on April 28, 2010 at 05:58

    This looks like a really helpful book, Wendy. One of my dogs is overweight and we’ve found it very challenging to deal with. Looks like it’s just arrived in my library system so I think I’ll request it. Thank you!

    • Wendy on April 28, 2010 at 07:18

    JoAnn: That is interesting about greyhounds…I always think of them as being “thin” dogs…perhaps when they are retired they tend to put on weight! Good for you adopting one of these dogs…they are gorgeous animals!

    Kathy: I know a lot of people who avoid commercial dog foods. I don’t have the energy to home cook all my dog’s food, but I think supplementing a really good commercial food with home cooking is a nice compromise.

    Serena: Glad to hear I was not the only one! *laughs*

    Lisa: I was blown away by the treats vs. human consumption part of the book! It was VERY eye opening! Thanks for the opportunity to tour this one 😉

    Zibilee: LOL! Little piggy dogs definitely could benefit from this book 🙂

    Laura: Labs tend towards being overweight because they really love to eat! Hope this book helps!!

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