By Shawn Messonnier, DVM

New World Library, $14.95, 256 pages

As animal lifespans increase, so do cases of arthritis, or joint instability. Dr. Shawn Messionier, in his book The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats, offers a holistic approach to caring for arthritic pets. Vets do not need to immediately use potentially harmful medication when safer alternatives exist. The first step in helping your pet is to acquire the proper diagnosis before proceeding with a chronic treatment. Pet owners should analyze both conventional and alternative therapies and pick what is most beneficial.

Messionier intersperses anecdotes from his own practice into the text and uses an approachable, reader-friendly style. Each chapter ends with a succinct summary of his points. He begins by thoroughly explaining arthritis. Messionier reviews the pros and cons of conventional treatments for arthritis (steroid therapy, NSAIDs, surgery) before turning to an in-depth look at the holistic approaches: nutritional supplements, antioxidants (which reduce inflammation), supplements that rebuild cartilage, herbal treatments, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, magnetic therapy, homeopathy, dietary changes, exercise, and physical therapy. While the discussion centers on dogs, cat owners will benefit from reading the book as well.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin