Supporting agility dogs with specialist lifetime cover

Veterinary care information for your dog

By Peter van Dongen DRS (Utrecht), CERT.V.R., MRCVS
Reviewed by Mary Ann Nester

Description: Confessing that you are a veterinary surgeon to any group of animal lovers is either an extreme act of bravery or amazing foolhardiness. It can turn the most ordinary conversation into a consultation Ė my dog has hiccups, my cat isnít eating or my budgie has turned purple. Peter Van Dongen, agilityís very own vet, can now direct worried dog owners to his new book, Vets and Pets and get back to chatting about the weather and agility.

Contents include articles on:-

  • Microchips
  • Hip dysplasia & hip scores
  • Dental disease, it's treatment & prevention
  • Neutering
  • Worms & worming
  • Euthanasia
  • Epilepsy
  • Hereditary eye disease in dogs & the Eye Scheme
  • Bloat
  • Heart disease
  • Nutrition: The Healthy Dog
  • Nutrition: The Ill Dog
  • Vaccinations
  • Vet fees & insurance
  • Rabies & the Pet Travel Scheme
  • First Aid
  • Ear disease
  • Lameness: Front leg & back leg
  • Lameness: Spinal column, fractures & arthritis
  • Kennel cough
  • Fleas and flea treatment
  • Hormonal diseases & imbalances
  • International travel of pets & any associated health risks
  • Skin disease



Best Features: Vets and Pets is a spiral bound collection of articles originally published monthly by The Agility Voice and The Agility Eye. Having them all together in one book, plus a new chapter on skin complaints, makes Vets and Pets a must for your library Ė to read from cover to cover or to dip into as time permits. Letís face it, how many of us know which issue of The Eye or The Voice has the article on bloat or epilepsy? And, although originally written for the agility enthusiast, the information and advice presented is important for all responsible dog owners everywhere.

The twenty-four chapters cover a wide range of canine aches and pains as well as answering the sort of questions that vets must hear everyday. I was astounded to realize that I had had personal experience of most of the ailments and health issues described in Vets and Pets Ė and my friendsí dogs had had the rest! Information is provided in an easy to understand way Ė no blinding with science here. The booklet will help you have a better comprehension of the care available for your dog, but it is not intended as a substitute for a professional diagnosis. Most chapters end with the caveat, 'If in doubt, you should speak to your vet!'

And it is very re-assuring that Peter Van Dongen not only owns and loves dogs, but has had a great deal of success competing with Basil, his Cruftís Agility winner. I suspect that everyone has posed the question, 'what would you do?' to their vet when faced with a tricky dilemma. Vets and Pets is the readersí chance to find out! Are Peteís pets micro chipped? How often are they wormed? How often are they fed? Does he give them chews? The answers are on the page.

But the chapter that touches me most is entitled 'Euthanasia.' This subject was explained clearly and succinctly. It left little doubt that Peter would handle the whole process with great sensitivity. In fact, Pete does not distance himself from his writing and this results in a very personal and affable style, all the more commendable when you remember that English is his second language. Reading his personal experiences or a phrase that can only be a direct translation from the Dutch, you canít help but feel that Pete is a real person and someone who would be enthusiastic and competent facing any veterinary challenge.

Worst Features: Iím hoping that Pete will ask one of my pack to model their ills for the next reprint instead of using clip art!

In addition to better illustrations, I would have liked a list of recommended reading. I want to know what book I should go to for more information on hip dysplasia. And an appendix of support groups would have been a nice touch. Many pet owners will benefit from talking to other people whose dogs are similarly afflicted by diseases such as epilepsy or CDRM.

Format: The book contains 66 pages, comes in A4 format, and is spiral-bound and covered in laminated card.

On the whole, Iím not keen on spiral binding. My copy hasnít stood up to wear and tear and is starting to look a bit ragged round the edges. I worry that pages will come loose and disappear. Iíll be reading a paragraph on castration and turn the page to find a chapter on worms.

And, if your copy does fall apart or you spill coffee on it, youíll have trouble ordering a replacement. Peteís address is conspicuous by its absence. But that could be a clever ploy on his part to protect his privacy. Itís bad enough having people asking you questions about their dogís health at agility shows, let alone beating a path to your front door for veterinary advice. 

Overall Rating: I give Vets and Pets an eight out of ten. This is the ideal reference book for veterinary information concerning your dog. It would also make a good gift for your friends or family (X-mas present?). Perhaps you can even buy several books together to give out at your local dog club.

Price: £10.00 (this includes postage and packing.) Alternatively, you can buy one directly from Peter at shows for £9.00 only!

Value for Money: My suggestion is to go out and buy your own copy. Donít ask to borrow mine. With five dogs in varying stages of decline, I need it at home!

Comments: My personal tragedy is that if I lived in Kent, I could register my dogs at Peteís practice. Living in Northampton, I will just have to make do with Vets and Pets!

You can get one of these books by sending your name, address and a cheque to:-

Peter van Dongen
25 Tolsey Mead, Borough Green, Kent TN15 8EQ

 Any profits from the sale of the book will be donated to a 'doggy' charity, such as the NCDL or Greyhound Trust etc.

About the Author
Peter van Dongen qualified as a vet at the Utrecht Veterinary school, The Netherlands, in March 1990. He moved to England, together with his (at that time) girlfriend Carry. They settled in Louth, Lincolnshire where he worked in a mixed practice, performing 'all things weird and wonderful' on 'all creatures great and small.' He also wrote articles for the local newspaper on veterinary subjects (Vets & Pets) in his spare time.

Later Peter moved to Kent, where he started to work for Pennard Veterinary Group in Sevenoaks, a large mixed practice. but this time he limited himself to the small animals only. In September 1996, he gained the 'Certificate of Veterinary Radiology,' a post-graduate degree in radiography and radiology, the techniques involved in taking of x-rays and their interpretation. From December 1996 onwards he has run his own branch surgery in Allington, near Maidstone.

In June 1998 he started writing monthly veterinary articles for the two national dog agility magazines, the Agility Eye and the Agility Voice.

In May 1995 Peter started agility (after years of just thinking about it!) with his Jack Russell Cross 'Basil' (a bitch!), then five years old. Since then they have qualified for many finals, including Crufts and Olympia. Basil, Peter's first and still only agility dog, is now an 'Advanced' dog - the highest level in the UK - and still going strong at the age of 11 years! Basil has won the coveted Crufts 2001 title in the individual Mini agility.

Peter passed the British Agility Club Instructors' exam in October 1999 and has since done the British Agility Club Judging Workshop.

Peter and his wife Carry still live in Borough Green with their two dogs, Basil and Monty and two cats, Manuel and Polly.

About The Reviewer
Mary Ann Nester
is a member of APDT. Born in the USA, she came to Britain in 1972 as a student. She has pursued a mixed career - fruit picker, gymnastic coach, keep-fit instructor and academic librarian. In 1997 she set up Aslan Enterprises, a dog-training school named after her first agility dog.

Running Aslan, a lurcher dog, at agility competitions got Mary Ann hooked on the sport and Bounty, a German Shepherd Dog, and Tam, the Border Collie were soon added to the household.

Mary Ann's most successful dog to date has been Brillo Pad, a Miniature Poodle who took her to Olympia and Crufts. Brillo also competed in the Draw Challenge on National Lottery Live!, winning Mary Ann the privilege of pushing the button that released the evening's lottery balls in front of millions of television viewers.

Daz, another miniature poodle and most recent addition, was bought for competition in the Mini ring, but grew too tall! He has proved that size doesn't matter. He entertained the crowds at Olympia as one of the 'fun dogs' and has strut his stuff in the ABC competition (Any Breed but Collie) at Crufts.

Mary Ann is a member of the first British Team to compete in the FCI World Championships 2001 in Portugal.

She has recently moved to Northamptonshire and writes regular articles for both The Agility Eye and Agility Voice as well as Agilitynet.

Photos: © Peter van Dongen & Olympia

Thank you...
I would like to thank everybody who has bought my book Vets & Pets over the last few months for their support! When I had it printed, I thought I was very optimistic having 150 produced. It took some time to break even as I had to pay myself for all the costs involved. On top of that, I donated some books to various people. But when I sell the last few remaining books - there are now only 20 left!- I will be able to donate £300 to charity! I am going to divide this between the NCDL and RAIN, a smaller rescue organisation based near Sevenoaks.

If there is continued interest, I may even be persuaded to have some more printed, in which case I probably will do a slightly 'updated' version. If you have been thinking about getting one of the books, be quick. I will be bringing some to Mid-Downs as well! Thanks again for all your support! Peter van Dongen (17/02/02)


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