Easy-To-Understand Book Written To Appeal To Students, Pet Owners

March 31, 1999

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Dog owners have the right stuff, according to a new book that says a canine companion "augments and improves human social relationships." Dogs are good for human health, especially for a person's physical and psychological well-being, says author Linda P. Case.

"The Dog: Its Behavior, Nutrition & Health" covers the human-dog bond in a chapter on ownership. It also takes dog owners through what is known about dog history, and helps them choose an appropriate canine diet to promote good health.

The book, published by the Iowa State University Press, is geared to college students in pre-veterinary, nutrition or animal behavior courses. However, pet owners can benefit from Case's simple writing approach, which incorporates years of research findings with easy-to-grasp explanations.

"I began writing this book for use as a textbook in companion animal classes like the one I teach," said Case, a lecturer in the department of animal sciences at the University of Illinois. "Then I began to realize there was a need for a book that could be used by hobbyists, by pet sitters, by people who show and train dogs. There are many books available, but the popular ones tend to lack a scientific foundation, and many academic books aren't accessible to a general audience."

Case, who also owns and operates the Autumn Gold Dog Training Center in Mahomet, Ill., takes the reader through a dog's basic development. "All dogs and wolves go through very distinct developmental periods, not just physiological but behavioral critical periods as well," she said.

For example, the period between the ages of 3 to 12 weeks is "when puppies learn normal canine behavior patterns," Case said. It is a time when puppies develop species-specific social behavior. Case then goes on to discuss learning theory and how to utilize current thoughts on common problems such as aggression and separation anxiety in training and behavior modification efforts.

Part Three of the book covers health and disease. Case guides readers through "Infectious Diseases and Vaccination Programs," a chapter that helps an owner better grasp what goes on -- and why -- during annual trips to the vet's office. She discusses non-infectious diseases, common parasites and first aid.

Part Four zeros in on nutrition and pet food. Case compares premium varieties of pet food, grocery store brands and generic, private-label brands. "There is a difference in dog foods," she said. "I don't recommend a particular pet food. Rather I describe the benefits and disadvantages associated with various types of food, and how an owner can use the pet food label to help select the best food for their dog."

Case and Kerry Helms, a graphic artist in the U. of I. College of Veterinary Medicine, are planning to complete a similar book on cats. Case also is lead author of "Canine and Feline Nutrition," a comprehensive book published by Mosby in 1994; a revised version will be published later this year.
-end-


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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