Finding nutritional data for dogs can be a difficult business—and while much of the information in Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog is presented by anecdote, there's still plenty of worthwhile reading here. Aimed at dog owners that are already fairly committed to nonallopathic forms of health care for their pets, much of the book is based around author Wendy Volhard's Natural Diet. The Natural Diet is fairly labor intensive, as Volhard is the first to admit, but she provides page after page of testimonials that credit the diet with improved temperaments, better activity levels, and exemplary physical health. Each ingredient in this diet is discussed in depth, so owners not ready to take the step of providing a complete diet from scratch can still learn about potentially valuable supplements, as well as what ingredients to look for in a commercial diet.

Beyond the dietary information provided, there are several chapters that give solid explanations of different types of health care available, including homeopathy, kinesiology, and the five-element theory. For those who still prefer allopathic care for their dogs, the chapters that cover standard lab tests are extremely useful, finally giving a layman's guide for urinalysis, blood serum, liver function, and thyroid testing. A glossary defines various terms such as acidosis and hepatic, and each description is easily understandable, even by those with no medical background whatsoever. For puppy owners, the chapter discussing vaccinations is informative—Volhard questions the necessity of many we take for granted, and suggests several methods for lowering the required number for your pup.

Ultimately, the majority of this book is geared toward folks who are already committed to providing their pooches with alternative health care and homemade food. No matter how interesting the dietary concepts presented here, if you aren't already a true believer it's not likely that Volhard's anecdotes will provide you with enough statistical proof to completely overhaul your dog's way of life. —Jill Lightner