Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Senior Dogs for Dummies by Susan McCullough

Senior Dogs for DummiesSenior Dogs for Dummies by Susan McCullough

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Senior Dogs for Dummies is, of course, one of the many For Dummies series of books, on just about everything. They share a common format, with clear, understandable writing and a straightforward layout. They can help make a complex subject approachable to anyone.

The Senior Dogs version is a good starting handbook for anyone who already lives with a senior dog, and can also benefit those whose dogs may not officially be seniors yet, but who are approaching that stage of canine life.

The book touches on many aspects of life with an older dog, from determining if your dog really is a senior (it's not always just a matter of number of years), to the special dietary needs of older dogs, to common and some less common ailments, right up to the final decision to let go. Things are explained in simple to understand language. McCullough doesn't go into in deep detail when talking about medical issues, but the basics are there, as well as strategies to help both owner and dog enjoy life to the fullest. The need for continued socialization is discussed, with suggestions for keeping an older dog engaged and active.

The last sections of the book deal with the most difficult decision faced by the pet owner: when to say good-bye. McCullough gives advice on making the decision compassionately and fairly, with emphasis on knowing what is best for your dog. She also gives a good explanation of what will happen at the end, for owners who have never had to euthanize a pet. The explanations and descriptions are straightforward. She doesn't pull punches or use the euphemisms one hears many times. Still, the compassion and emotion are evident. She's been through it, and you can tell reading here.

As the owner of a senior dog, I didn't find a lot of new information here that I didn't know before, but if you are new to the world of older dogs, or are just anticipating your dog's later years, this book can be a valuable reference. I did learn a few new things, and I think I will keep the book handy on my shelf as both my dog and I go through his senior years.

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