Thursday, January 7, 2010

The New Holistic Way

During the Christmas holidays I read “The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats”, by Paul McCutcheon, DVM and Susan Weinstein. I blogged about the book a while back and was very keen to read it, cause Dr. McCutcheon is a real t(r)ailblazer in researching the role stress plays in wellness and disease, and was a holistic thinker at a time most people had no clue what that meant (we forgive him that he lives with cats, not dogs).
In addition, my friend Susan Weinstein, a very mindful dog owner and writer, co-authored it.

I was not disappointed; enjoyed the read from the first page to last, both for its content and the way it was written. There is a lot I like and to comment on everything is too much for this post, so you need to get the book yourself, but the things that stuck out for me were the emphasis that pet animals CAN BE stressed, and that stress starts with CONCEPTION.

"The New Holistic Way…" talks about the connection between stress and health, specifically the immune system. Books that fall into the disease and alternative health category can be dry and boring, and one has to be really interested in the topic to work through them. Not this one. Thanks to Susan’s skilled writing, I was glued and think it will be the same for others, and that is important because it allows layowners to understand their pets better, and make confident choices on their behalf that’ll make them feel better.
Nowadays, thanks to the media and physicians that acknowledge the detrimental implications stress has, most people are somewhat aware of it – when it comes to themselves. But many dog owners I meet are surprised that their furry companion can be stressed as well. So I am glad that there is a book now that addresses that, written by an authority with four decades of first hand experience.
Just because our pets don’t have to rush to work, multitask and worry how they’re gonna pay the bills, does not mean they don’t deal with things, including environmental, medically induced and food related stressors, which is also explained very well in the book.
One sentence I really liked and I quote: “…animal can cope if the stressors of life is appropriate for him as a species and individual…”, and that gives you an idea of Dr. McCutcheon’s approach to evaluate each animal individually, rather than to apply a one-fits-all symptoms suppression fix-it method. Assessing and healing according to individual needs is typical for everyone who thinks holistically, but the care, love and respect he has for all his clients is extraordinary and visible on every page. Such sensitivity.
I am really happy that the book points out that stress begins with conception. I couldn’t agree more, and it is a fact every dog owner should know, but many don't. It’s important cause that insight hopefully compels more and more people who think about getting a dog to ask their breeder specific questions how the damn is fed and treated, and what the environment she lives in is like. People that know that they could have lifelong problems if their pup’s mom was fed crap and stressed; lives in an inadequate, overcrowded or harsh place, are less likely to shop at a pet store, puppy miller or broker.
So, those were the focal points for me. If you want to find out more, you can purchase the book at chapters or amazon, and there also is a website:

I am addicted to books and got a bunch for Christmas hubby Mike and our daughter Yana picked from my pages-long book list I handed them in November. The next two I am going to read are: "Shadow Syndromes – The Mild Forms of Major Mental Disorders That Sabotage Us", and I’ll probably find some useful info to help me with my work with dogs.
And “The Vanishing Face of Gaia”, that has nothing do to with dogs, but is kind of a dooms day account of the consequences of global warming. I heard a CBC interview with the author James Lovelock that really intrigued me, and I can read stuff like that because I have a “not so mainstream” belief about life and won’t get depressed.


  1. I too just read this book and it was wonderful, thank you Silvia for recommending it. It was especially meaningful as I just finished "When The Body Says NO: The Hidden Cost Of Stress" which is the human equivillant and an excellent and enlightening read. Both books really show how similar we are with dogs in our emotional stressors and responses. It gave me an even greater appreciation and awareness for my dogs emotional life

  2. I have the "When The Body Says NO" also, and that'll be my third book in line to read. I can say that I feel really good - no stress, but like to read for professional interest.
    Dogs and humans are anatomically different, but physiologically more similar than different and they live in the same environment as humans do, so it makes a lot of sense that both species are dealing with the same issues. Except we can make intelligent decisions and have, at least to a level, autonomy - something our dogs don't have.

  3. One of my Shar Pei, Chloe, has Shar Pei Fever (FSF) ... one of her fever triggers is STRESS! I have become so aware of what stresses her out because it causes a fever, swollen hock, etc. So to prevent the episodes I try as hard as I can to keep the stress to a minimum, and it works :)

  4. Lucky Chloe to have an owner who is so aware and caring.

  5. Thanks for the rave review, Silvia!

    And Marjorie, I am going to read the book you recommend, When The Body Says NO. I wasn't aware of it but it looks like I should read it and know about it.


  6. Susan, I think you will find the book very interesting. I loved "The New Holistic Way" and I'm recommending it to my vet. Don't you just love a good book!