‘National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness’ Answers the Questions We Should Ask, but Don’t [REVIEW]

Henry and Heather

Henry is one happy pooch… especially when his mommy takes him for a walk. (Photo by Jathan Fink, Jadeworks Entertainment)

You guys know we are huge animal lovers. We’ve both had so many pets over the years that we can barely keep track of all of them. But as any pet parent knows, there are times when you simply have questions. Should I buy a purebred or adopt from a shelter? How much food should my fluffy friend actually eat? Do animals have allergies too? Now you don’t have to wait to take your family pet to the veterinarian to get answers. National Geographic has a great new book every family with a four-legged friend should own, the Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness by Dr. Gary Weitzman.


National Geographic

This comprehensive volume includes practical first aid tips with medical references so we can care for our animals at home, or at least until we can get them to the vet. Chock full of the insider tips Dr. Weitzman has acquired during nearly three decades of practice, he shows us the tricks of the trade when it comes to taking care of birds, bunnies, cats, dogs, and more.

If you read this book from cover to cover, you’re going to learn everything you need to know about becoming a responsible pet owner. Not only will you learn how to keep your pet healthy, but you’ll also discover the best ways to train them, and even which animals are best suited to your lifestyle. Best of all, Weitzman infuses each page with warmth and wit as he addresses our most pressing (and perplexing) questions. It’s kind of like having a house call from the family vet. (Don’t you wish that were really a thing?)

In addition to providing general knowledge about pet ownership, this book also teaches us more specific things we should know for the different stages of a pet’s life. For example, how do you modify a pet’s behavior? What’s the best way to train a puppy and how do you care for pets in their old age? The other super helpful thing is that you’ll learn to recognize symptoms for common illnesses and injuries so your pet doesn’t suffer any longer than it has to.


Even big breeds like this Bullmastiff named Mystique can get along with small breeds. (Photo by Wayne Seward, Flickr)

If you already have a pet at home but want to add a new member to the family, it can be a stressful situation for everyone involved. Weitzman gives great advice on how to do this, “whether you’re bringing home a new puppy or kitten, cat or dog, hamster or rabbit.” He suggests the animals should meet on neutral territory rather than at the shelter since that’s such an abnormal environment for both pets. Also, don’t expect that they will get along famously from the moment they meet. This isn’t kismet. This is two animals having to learn each other, so make sure that they have space to retreat in case they feel threatened or get a bit nervous around their new housemate.

Dog Walker

Sometimes even the most experienced pet owner can use a little extra help. (Photo by Thomas Hawk, Flickr)

As Weitzman says, “It takes a village to raise a happy pet.” If your dog is home alone on a regular basis, he suggests investing in hiring a dog walker. Sure, they can be an added expense, but then again, who can afford to buy new furniture when Fido gets separation anxiety and starts to teeth on the sofa cushions? Or, you may decide that a doggie day care is more to your liking, where your pet can get lots of exercise and interaction with staff and fellow pets. If you have to travel, you can put your dog in a boarding facility, but do you know how to pick a good one? You may want to find a great pet sitter instead, so Brutus can stay on his own turf.


As adorable as these fluff buckets are, they can easily bring home parasites if you aren’t careful. (Photo by Jetske, Flickr)

Finally, while we’ve all heard about fleas and ticks, did you know there are loads of other parasites your pet may encounter on a daily basis? Chapter 13 is all about these little buggers, and what we can do to prevent them, and… God forbid… treat them if and when they arrive with all their nasty little friends. Weitzman shows us the proper way to remove ticks when they hitchhike in on our pet’s skin (and yes, you’ve probably been doing it wrong). Also, he tells us just how often we should test our pets for heartworms, mites, and all kinds of other grody parasites that can attack everything from the urinary tract to the respiratory system.

Yuki and Oni

Keep pets happy. Proper education can do wonders to prolong life and maintain health for those adorable fur babies. (Photo by David Grant, Flickr)

I know we’re always telling you about great books on this site that are necessary additions to your home library. But for pet owners, the National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness truly is a must have. Not only is it good to keep on hand in case of pet disasters, especially if your family vet isn’t immediately available, but it also teaches all of us pet owners lots of great info we never thought to ask. Think of it as What to Expect When You’re Expecting for the pet parent set. There are so many things that we should ask, but don’t, and Weitzman does a stellar job of addressing those questions before they become a serious issue.

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Dr. Gary Weitzman joined San Diego Humane Society as its president and CEO in 2012 and has served as president of the Washington Animal Rescue League.

A Certified Animal Welfare Administrator, he is currently chair of the board of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and serves on the board of Mama’s Kitchen

, a San Diego nonprofit committed to providing lifesaving food for people with chronic illnesses.

Former co-host of the nationally distributed public radio program The Animal House, Weitzman is the author of Everything Dogs, How to Speak Dog, and How to Speak Cat.

He currently lives in San Diego with his partner and two rescued, but not always well-behaved, dogs.

By Gary Weitzman, DVM, MPH, CAWA
400 pp. National Geographic. $24.99

Purchase National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, National Geographic, and Powell’s.

National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to ‘National Geographic Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior, and Happiness’ Answers the Questions We Should Ask, but Don’t [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Gary Weitzman, DVM, author of National Geographic Complete Guide To Pet Health, Behavior, And Happiness, on tour April 2019 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Sara Strand says:

    We have two cats and one dog right now but the cats are getting up there in age and this sounds like it would be a great resource to have so we know what to expect. Thanks for being on this tour!

    Sara @ TLC Book Tours

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