Recommended Reads for Responsible Pet Owners’ Month

February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, a month dedicated to celebrating the bond between pets and their owners, as well as highlighting the responsibilities of owning a pet. We love our animal friends and it’s an incredible gift to remember how much they love us. So, this Valentine’s Day, we’d like to celebrate a few books about our pets and their presence in our lives.

Books to Explore the Human-Animal Bond

A Perfect Harmony: The Intertwining Lives of Animals and Humans throughout History is an informative, insightful history of animal domestication through the ages, by late ASPCA president Robert Caras, author of numerous fine works on pets and wildlife. As Caras defines it, domestication is “the shaping of a species by man, using selective breeding to replace natural selection.” By studiously reviewing the origins and probable methods of domestication and the ancestry of all manner of animals, from goats and horses in the Stone Age to camels and elephants around 4000 B.C., to ferrets and cats in more recent years, Caras explains how “animals have played a vital role in man’s evolutionary course.”

Pets play a greater role in our emotional and physical health than ever before, says the Purdue University professor who is co-author of his revised edition of Between Pets and People: The Importance of Animal Companionship. Dealing with such varied topics as pet ownership and gender differences, the pet’s freedom from social taboos, and pets’ taking on roles of family members, the authors show that animal companionship affects, and is affected by, the most basic levels of human existence. Even how we name and feed our pets tells us about ourselves and our needs. 

Books About Dogs

A dog is an ideal workout partner: always supportive, happy to go for a walk and never judgmental. The human-companion animal bond is a great way to help you and your dog lose weight or stay fit. When people and dogs exercise together, fitness and health happen on both ends of the leash. The causes, consequences, and treatment for overweight and obesity are strikingly similar in people and dogs. Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound, written by an expert veterinary surgeon and a leading nurse researcher, helps you move from a food-centered relationship with dogs, to an exercise-centered relationship. Even better, you don’t have to own a dog! The book gives several creative suggestions to exercise or walk a dog even if you do not or cannot have one. This volume is designed for dog lovers, dog owners and families. Based on the latest scientific findings, it will also help professionals (including physicians, veterinarians, and physical therapists) fight obesity and promote fitness in both people and pets.

At its heart, Unleashed Fury details and evaluates the handling of three leash-law disputes, all of which were exceedingly divisive and emotionally intense. This book is not only a revealing study of Americans’ conflicted attitudes toward animals and the difficult balance between individual rights and the public good in our communities. It is also a useful source of information for both dog owners and local government officials who are faced with leash-law disagreements.

Books About Cats

Based on the latest science, Your Ideal Cat is a great book for anyone interested in the fundamental building blocks of feline behavior, and an invaluable handbook for cat owners. A history of the development of different breeds is presented, and then breed-specific differences across a range of variables are discussed. These include twelve behavioral traits, in areas such as affection, sociality, activity level, and litter box use. After giving guidance about choosing a cat, the authors present some strategies for avoiding problem behaviors and resolving those that emerge. They also share fascinating theories about the origins of various common cat behaviors, including purring, yawning, eating grass, “flipping out” on catnip, and staking out territory. While the focus is on purebred cats, there is also lots of good information for owners of blends. The book ends with helpful guidance on further reading.

Cats and Conservationists is the first multidisciplinary analysis of the heated debate about free-roaming cats. The debate pits conservationists against cat lovers, who disagree both on the ecological damage caused by the cats and the best way to manage them. An impassioned and spirited conflict, it also sheds light on larger questions about how we interpret science, incorporate diverse perspectives, and balance competing values to encourage constructive dialogue on contentious social and environmental issues.

You can get 30% off these books, as well any other Purdue University Press book by ordering from our website and using the code PURDUE30 at checkout.