Skip to Main Content

The Healthy Pet Manual

A Guide to the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer

Foreword by Gary Kowalski
Published by Healing Arts Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

Examines the environmental, dietary, and lifestyle-related causes of cancer in pets and how to safeguard their well-being

• Cancer is the number one killer of most domestic animals

• Includes health care information on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs

• The first consumer-oriented book to assess conventional and alternative treatment options

Keeping their pets healthy and happy is the number one priority of pet owners. Having lost four animal companions to cancer, author Deborah Straw became frustrated by the lack of information about what was causing the disease and wanted to know what she could do to treat and prevent it. This thorough and comprehensive guide is the result of her search for answers. It provides readers with the knowledge of how to ward off the unforeseen causes of cancer and protect the safety and health of their pets.

Cancer is the number one killer of most domestic animals. This revised and expanded edition of Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets? includes the most up-to-date information on the environmental, dietary, and vaccine-related culprits that may cause cancer in pets and the preventive measures that can be taken against this disease. Readers whose pets have been diagnosed with cancer will benefit from the full spectrum of both conventional and alternative treatments presented in this book--from chemotherapy and laser surgery to herbal therapy, acupuncture, and touch therapy. In addition, readers will find guidance about caring for a sick pet and grieving his or her loss should the pet die. Full of information, options, and support, this is an essential resource for protecting pets.


Chapter 5

Environmental Concerns
According to the National Cancer Institute, each type of cancer has its own known or suspected risk factors, and all cancers are almost always caused by a combination of factors that interact in ways “not yet fully understood.”

Obviously, some of these factors are environmental, and many come to us and our pets through what we ingest--our diet and our drinking water. These two topics will be covered in chapter 6, Drinking Water, and chapter 8, Nutrition. But there are also many other risks involved with daily life that affect and may cause disease--or even death--in both human and nonhuman animals.

Toys and Treats
Let’s consider the toys you so thoughtfully buy your dog or cat, some of which are actually quite dangerous. At the top of the list for dogs are most rawhide chews. Even though they give pooches a long-lasting treat, keep them amused when you are too busy to take a walk, and can help in reducing dental problems, they have latent dangers as well. Dogs can choke on rawhide ends and can sustain intestinal blockage; if you do give your dogs these toys, you should supervise their happy chewing.

There are also problems with the rawhide material itself. How are these things made? Fresh hides must be preserved, the hair removed, and the hides cured to prevent them from spoiling. Many of the least-expensive chews come from Asia, where uncontrolled chemical usage has caused massive pollution in rivers and aquifers. (According to an investigative article on this topic, one company, IPSD of San Diego, California, sold rawhide products from Argentina, Canada, China, Ecuador, and Thailand, where cheap hides could be had.) Some of the residues found in poorly processed animal hides are lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium salts, and formaldehyde. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has jurisdiction over animal products imported into this country but requires only an import license and a certificate of origin. Perhaps U.S. rawhides are safer, but chemical processing happens in all these products. Some U.S. companies claim that no chemical treatment or preservatives are needed to prevent rawhide spoilage, because everything is done here--that is, more quickly. But many skeptics disagree, and many people no longer buy these chewies. If you do decide to give a rawhide chew to your dog, buy a high-grade product made in your own country.

Along with rawhide, three other dog treats are potentially dangerous. Smoked products are baked in giant ovens and preserved with a liquid smoke distillate that makes the bones smell “barbecued.” Wood smoke contains some two hundred compounds, some of which are carcinogenic. Even for humans, keeping smoked meats to a minimum is sane advice. Second, plastic chew toys are made of petrochemical polymers like polyurethane and nylon. No studies have been conducted to show long-term health risks for dogs, but as writer Roger Govier asks, why does one of the products include chicken if it is not meant to be eaten? On another plastic chew product, he found the words, “No added plastic, salt, sugar, color additives or preservatives.” So does the product contain plastic or not? Read those labels closely, always. Finally, items such as pig’s ears and noses are processed with chemicals and are dyed. Many are sold in unmarked bins at big stores, which is technically illegal: According to the Food and Drug Administration, these products ought to be identified by brand, contents, and maker’s address.

So what should you do when your dog gets that doggy urge to chew? Govier recommends real raw bones, carefully monitored. A few commercial chews are better than others. Try products from Doctors Foster and Smith, New England Serum Company, Pet Factory, and Ecology Rawhide Treats, made from free-range, hormone- and toxin-free cattle hides.

The FDA recently issued an alert on the potential presence of salmonella in meat-based dog chews. Canadian authorities traced approximately thirty cases of salmonella to pork- or beef-based dog chews such as pig’s ears and chew hooves. As a result, the big chain store PETsMART is currently investigating all the suppliers of its 570-plus superstores and will purchase only from manufacturers “that pass inspection, and test and certify that each lot is free of salmonella before shipping.” The megacompany also advises you to handle the meat-based dog chews safely, treating them as if you were “preparing a chicken dinner for your family.”

About The Author

Deborah Straw is a longtime animal, health, and lifestyle writer based in Vermont. She is also the author of an ecotourism guide, Natural Wonders of the Florida Keys, and is a widely published essayist.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Healing Arts Press (July 5, 2005)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781594770579

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"The first book to examine the environmental, dietary, and lifestyle-related causes of cancer in pets to assess the full spectrum of treatments--both alternative and conventional. Cancer is now the number one killer of most domestic animals. Readers will discover the many environmental, dietetic, and vaccine-related culprits that may cause cancer in pets, and they'll learn preventive measures that can be taken to safeguard their pet's well-being. Full of knowledge, options, and support, this is an essential resource for protecting your pet."

– The Pet Tribune, November/December 2000

"Straw's book is a comprehensive examination of the issue, covering everything from the rise in incidence to the emotional distress. It takes up cause, treatment, prevention and grief."

– Green Mountain Bookshelf, The Burlington Free Press, December 24, 2000

"Without endorsing any particular form of care, but stressing the value of expert intervention, Straw discusses cancer prevention, traditional and alternative cancer treatments and how to cope with the loss of a pet to this relentless disease."

– Publishers Weekly, Jan. 22, 2001

"Straw offers a thoughtful and balanced exploration of everyting from surgery to holistic remedies, emphasizing prevention, cure and treatment of cancer in pets."

– Catfancy, April 2001, Vol. 44 No. 4

"She is a very thorough researcher who offers an extensive examination of the possible causes of cancer as well as the conventional therapies and holistic remedies available today. It also provides a wealth of data and encourages the reader to ask questions that they may not have considered previously. Readers will feel better enabled to make an informed choice and more empowered to take charge of their animal's well being. An excellent reference for every pet owner's bookshelf."

– Pet Times, March 2001

"Maginificently evergreen. . . . It's literally food for thought served with a breezy, unassuming charm."

– Seattle Union Record, December 2000

"An excellent guide to the causes, prevention, and treatment of cancer in pets. The reader is empowered to take charge of their animal's well-being and become a more responsible consumer of veterinary and pet care services. Offers a judicious and balanced exploration of everything from surgery to herbal remedies, with as much emphasis on prevention as on cure."

– Pets Magazine

"Straw's book is the first to bring together much needed and encouraging information, in depth, in one reference volume."

– Rita M. Reynolds, Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, August/September 2001

"The beauty of this book is the wide range of both conventional and alternative approaches to pet health, especially cancer treatment."

– Karen Alene/John Steinbacher, The Challenge, Fall/Winter 2001

". . . an essential resource for protecting your pet."


"Straw goes along with veterinary oncologists who indicate cancer is a disease of the aged . . . but she also offers evidence in a journalistically sound manner - that environmental factors, diet and vaccines also contribute."

– Steve Dale,

"The information Straw provides in her book can help us consider changes we can make for our animals to help prevent cancer, and the courses we can take if cancer has been diagnosed."

– Esther Caldwell, Animal, Fall 2001

". . . a good resource for those interested in creating the healthiest environment possible for their four-legged companions."

– Kathleen Head, Alternative Medicine Review, Vol. 6, Supplement, 2001

". . . clear, concise, and revealing. It ends with a chapter on grieving and accepting the loss. . . . This compassionate ending to a well-researched and written book is, in itself, worth the purchase price."

– Neil L. Mace, Field Trail Magazine, Fall 2001

"This thorough guide to every aspect of the disease in animals is the result of her search for answers."

– Pet New Zealand, September 2001

"This book is one to be celebrated, studied, embraced and referenced again and again to help us make responsible, informed decisions."

– Rob Gee, The Critter Exchange, November 2002

“I have given care to domestic animals for over 25 years and sadly, more than half of them have died with cancer. With The Healthy Pet Manual beside me, I feel more confident as I continue this work. I will now be better able to hopefully prevent cancer before it appears and also ease the way for those animals who already have cancer, coming into my family for quality end-of-life support. In this extraordinary volume, author Deborah Straw offers us one of the finest and most essential tools for providing optimum care to the animals we hold dear. I can’t thank her enough for that.”

– Rita M. Reynolds, author of Blessing The Bridge: What Animals Teach Us About Death, Dying, and Beyon

The Healthy Pet Manual is a must-read for those who consider their companion animals family members. This book considers all facets of our pets’ health, including their emotional needs, and thus is a refreshing approach to keeping our four-legged kids healthy. If everyone showed the respect and consideration for animals that Deborah Straw demonstrates, we would not only have healthier animals, we would live in a world free of unwanted and abused animals. Two paws up!”

– Randy Grim, author of Miracle Dog, subject of the book The Man Who Talks to Dogs, and founder of Str

“I have long encouraged pet owners to learn as much as they can about behavior so humans and pets can better communicate and live in harmony. The same emphasis should be on the health of your pets, including prevention and treatment. Deborah’s Healthy Pet Manual deals openly with the changing world of animal healthcare including the causes of disease, amazing advances in care and treatment, and costs. Her insight is valuable for maintaining a healthy pet and provides a lot of transferable insight into human health.”

– Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis, world-renowned dog trainer and host of the PBS series Wo

". . . could not, in my opinion, be better presented. . . . spread the word about The Healthy Pet Manual, that we may all help to give the very best care to the animals in our lives, when they are in good health, and when illness--especially cancer, strikes."

– Rita Reynolds, la Joie, Summer 2005

". . . includes the most recent information about environmental, dietary, and vaccine-related culprits that may cause cancer in our pets and the measures that can be taken to prevent the disease."

– New Spirit Journal, Nov 2005

". . . a wonderful book, richly researched and written with uncommon intelligence."

– Phil Hart, New York Resident Magazine, Nov 2005

"I recommend this book to all animal lovers, including veterinarians genuinely interested in staying abreast with the latest developments in treatment options."

– Liz Illgen, Practical Magik, New Age Retailer, Trade Show Issue 2006

"I cannot praise Deborah Straw and her excellent book, The Healthy Pet Manual, enough, It's a keeper."

– Linda Davis Kyle, The Midwest Book Review, Aug 2006

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images