As much as we love our dogs, there’s no doubt we can always use more safe and effective tips to make caring for them easier and less expensive. There are hundreds of ideas that people can use to do this - everything from cutting shedding by 90% to keeping dogs calm during thunderstorms. These and other veterinary secrets are the heart and soul of a new book by my friend Dr. Marty Becker, “America’s Veterinarian” and a regular on “Good Morning America” and “The Dr. Oz Show.”
Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual is Dr. Becker’s latest book, and he says it’s his best yet, filled with all the “Secrets, Surprises and Solutions” you need to make living with your dog easier and better for you both.
I sat down with Dr. Becker recently to ask him about his book, and why he thinks it’s so important that people have access to information like this.
Victoria: Welcome, Dr. Becker, and congratulations on your new book, Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. Clever title. How’d you come up with it?
Dr. Becker: Thanks, Victoria! As you know, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a friend of mine, and I’m a member of “Core Team Oz” on “The Dr. Oz Show.” I love his book “You: The Owner’s Manual,” and thought we really needed a book like that for dogs and for cats (“Your Cat” comes out next spring.) I talked to Dr. Oz about using the title, and he graciously gave me permission. His show was one of my first appearances after the book came out last month, and he gave copies to everyone in his studio audience. The title is all very tongue-in-cheek – dogs and cats are family members, of course, and these books reflect that.
VS: Can you explain for our dog-loving audience what exactly makes this book different?
DMB: There are a lot of good dog books, and you and I have already written a few of them. But the reason I wrote Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual is because of what I knew as a practicing veterinarian who has stayed on the cutting edge of veterinary care. I knew if I could get my “Secrets, Surprises and Solutions” I shared with people in a well-written book, I could make a difference in a lot of lives. I could help make people and the pets they love healthier and happier. You know me, Victoria, and you know that’s what I’m all about. So yes, there are hundreds of these tips, little-known inside information that even some veterinarians don’t know about, and each tidbit will make life easier for a dog-lover.
VS: Can you give me an example or two?
DMB: Of course! The No. 1 thing people don’t like about their dogs is shedding, and the No. 1 reason people take dogs to the veterinarian is for skin problems. Here’s the secret: You can take a bite out of both of these problems by bathing your pet every week. I know that’s going to shock a lot of people. It’s true that for decades we veterinarians have learned – and shared the information with our clients – that frequent bathing dried out a dog’s skin and coat and was not recommended. But new clinically proven studies prove the opposite: Frequently bathing is the BEST thing you can do to prevent and address allergies and other skin problems in your dog. And it also cuts down on shedding. That’s a secret, a surprise and solution all in one, and you only find it in Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. And it’s one of hundreds, I can tell you.
Here’s another: A common poisoning risk to your dog isn’t something most people are terrified of their dog getting into, such as chocolate, which is actually relatively low-risk – especially milk or white chocolate. But it is something sweet that most people don’t think to put out of a pet’s reach: Gum or candy sweetened with Xylitol. A stick of gum can drop of 50-pound dog – it’s THAT dangerous. Most people don’t know, and that’s a “secret” I want shared. There’s of stuff like that in the book, and as a practicing veterinarian I can tell you that I see sick pets all the time who are at death’s door because of things their owners didn’t know. This book helps to get the information out there.
VS: Very interesting, Marty! What else are you sharing? Anything that can help people choose the right dog and get the relationship started on the right paw, as it were?
DMB: Victoria, as you know, my daughter, Mikkel Becker, is just starting her career as a dog trainer, and I’m also honored to know some of the world’s best trainers and veterinary behaviorists, such as you. You’d better believe I put some of that great information from these experts in the book. This is, after all, an “owner’s manual,” and I made it as comprehensive as anything else I’ve ever published. So, yes, there’s information on how to choose a puppy or dog, and how to make your new family member comfortable quickly. Basic training and problem-solving, but again, the emphasis is on those “Secrets, Surprises and Solutions.”
VS: I understand you’ve been taking your message on the road? What’s the story there?
DMB: Yes, and what a trip it is! We have a custom-wrapped 45-foot “rock star” bus that has previously been used to transport “Dog: The Bounty Hunter,” David Copperfield, Lady Gaga and touring Broadway shows. It’s quite the rig: Six TVs, two baths, a shower, a small kitchen and a full bedroom. We’re almost finished with a 45-day tour for the book, and also to promote the idea that “Healthy Pets Visit Vets.” You see, we have this idea that pets should go to the veterinarian when they’re sick only, but that’s not the best way to handle things. When a pet-lover and a veterinarian work together on preventive care for a pet, the result is a longer, happier life – and a lower overall veterinary cost. That’s a message that needs to get out.
VS: Where can people find you on this tour?
DMB: The complete schedule is at www.drmartybecker.com, along with information on where to buy to the book. I’m doing book-signings and meet-and-greets at PETCOs across the nation, and I encourage people to come by, and to bring their dogs. I love to meet people, and I’m happy to help by answering questions.
I’d also like to add that along with the book-signings, I’ve set up a contest to help people help their favorite shelters and rescue groups – and everyone can get involved in that. Our sponsors have chipped in more than $70,000 in products for these non-profits, with $20,000 going to the Grand Prize winner. Those details are also on DrMartyBecker.com.
VS: Thank you, Marty! Best of luck with the book, and I hope we can chat again soon.
DMB: It would be my pleasure! Thank you for helping me spread the word on Your Dog: The Owner’s Manual. It’s a very special book to me!