In the words of Houghton Mifflin senior editor Susan Canavan, “There’s no mistake about it: people have more thoughtful relationships with their pets than ever before.” And thereby hangs a tail: dogs and cats have taken up residence in American homes in record numbers, according to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association. Its 2007—2008 National Pet Owners Survey found that 63% of U.S. households—71.1 million homes—own a pet. Households with dogs number 44.8 million, while felines can be found in 38.4 million homes. Though the cat populace, 88.3 million, outnumbers the 74.8 million dogs, that’s because, explains T.F.H. publisher Christopher Reggio, “pet parents with cats are more likely to have more than one.” He adds, however, that “in spite of the larger cat population, dog-related books still outsell any other category.”

And don’t publishers know it. Dog books are rapidly becoming as ubiquitous as—well, as the pooches themselves. And it’s not just the pet-specific publishers who are freighting the doggie bookshelves. As Reggio notes, “With the success of general interest pet titles such as Marley and Me and The Dog Whisperer, mainstream trade houses are publishing projects that supplement the traditional pet care titles that were once the exclusive terrain of specialty publishers. The success of these books has really 'woken up’ these houses to the opportunities in this category.”

Given the rapidly rising dollar amount spent on canines and felines, the price of a hardcover pet book is a mere drop in the doggie water dish. According to the APPMA survey, total annual U.S. pet industry expenditures have climbed from $29.5 billion in 2002 to an estimated $40.8 billion this year. Says Fair Winds Press publisher Will Kiester, “We are finding that the concept of our pets being family members—they are perceived as more important and therefore more valuable—is driving an increase in consumer spending, especially on dogs.”

Looking over publishers’ recent and forthcoming pet titles, it appears that business is going, shall we say, to the dogs. The number of dog-related titles we received for this feature outnumbered cat tales by about six to one. (Lest we be accused of Fido favoritism, however, we’ve spotlighted several new titles for Fluffy; see sidebar, p. 36.)

Health and Wellness

One area being addressed in a growing number of titles is pet health care. According to a 2004 American Animal Hospital Association survey, 94% of pet owners take their pet for regular veterinary checkups to ensure their pet’s quality of life. As Doubleday Broadway associate editor Christine Pride notes, “When it comes to animal medicine, like its human counterpart, the information and options available in terms of treatment and diagnoses have become vastly more complicated over the last decade. People are, therefore, looking for resources that will help them make sense of it all.” One such title is Tell Me Where It Hurts (Broadway, Jan. 2008), in which Nick Trout, a staff surgeon at Boston’s Angell Memorial Animal Hospital, writes of such now commonplace procedures for dogs as organ transplants, joint replacements and cancer treatments. In addition to its medical expertise, the book is also, says publicity director David Drake, “very much in the tradition of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small.”

Just out from Fair Winds Press is What’s Wrong with My Dog? A Pet Owner’s Guide to 150 Symptoms and What to Do About Them, which covers a broad spectrum of treatments, from home remedies to cutting-edge alternative therapies. Author/vet Jake Tedaldi makes house calls in the greater Boston area via Vetcall, his mobile veterinary practice. Homeopathic treatments for common ailments are covered in Natural Remedies Dogs and Cats Wish You Knew: A Holistic Care Guide (Ulysses Press, Jan.) by Viv Harris, president of the New Zealand Holistic Veterinary Society.

And a noted name in medical care is turning its attention to the animal kingdom for the first time with The Merck/Merial Manual for Pet Health:The Complete Health Resource for Your Dog, Cat, Horse or Other Pets—in Everyday Language (Oct.); 100,000 copies of a 150,000-copy announced first printing have already been sold in.

Much has been written about the aging of baby boomers, but what about their pets? The Living Well Guide for Senior Dogs: Everything You Need to Know for a Happy and Healthy Companion (T.F.H., Oct.) offers instructions on maintaining an older dog’s quality of life and helping to ease the transition into old age. In Eternal Puppy: Keeping Your Dog Forever Young (BowTie Press/Kennel Club Books, Sept.), Janice Willard offers practical strategies for keeping mature dogs young and healthy in mind and body. Among her findings is that only 20%—25% of a dog’s longevity is determined by its genes; the owner can influence the remaining percentage by how he or she cares for the animal.

Getting Dogmatic

While no dog parent cares to admit that Rover is less than a paragon of perfection, the fact is that training is generally de rigueur. But today’s approach, says Wiley publisher Cindy Kitchel, “is becoming more friendly, and positive methods are proven successes.” Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan made dog training fashionable with his 2006 bestseller, Cesar’s Way (see sidebar at left), as did Tamar Geller’s The Loved Dog: The Playful, Nonaggressive Way to Teach Your Dog Good Behavior, which spent three weeks on PW’s list this spring.

Houghton Mifflin, in a publishing partnership with Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, just published Puppy’s First Steps: The Whole Dog Approach to Raising a Happy, Healthy, Well-Behaved Puppy by Nicholas Dodman with Lawrence Lindner. Says HM’s Canavan, “Books in this category are approaching the owner/dog relationship not just from the aspect of training but from a more holistic outlook. Most notable is the fact that this idea of a dog’s emotional life—in other words his 'happiness’ and not just his health and behavior—is now part of the conversation.” Paul Owens and Terry Cranendonk exemplify that trend in ThePuppy Whisperer: A Compassionate, Nonviolent Guide to Early Training and Care (Adams Media, Jan.).

According to Patricia Burnham, author of Treats, Play, Love: Make Dog Training Fun for You and Your Best Friend (St. Martin’s/Griffin, Feb.), “Obedience training does not have to resemble boot camp, nor does it have to be work. It can be playful fun for both the dog and its human, with a few rules thrown in to shape the game into an obedience exercise.” Among the topics Burnham covers: house manners (no whining or barking); preventing dog bites; dealing with shy or fearful dogs.

Colleen Paige, the author of the recently published The Good Behavior Book for Dogs: The Most Annoying Dog Behaviors... Solved! (Quarry) holds a special place in the canine world—she’s the founder of National and International Dog Day, which was yesterday, August 26.

One of the important topics addressed in Barron’s third edition of Barbara J. Wrede’s Civilizing Your Puppy is the all-important selection of a dog, with focus on acquiring a breed that best fits individual personality types and family routines. Barron’s marketing director Lonny Stein notes that the book’s previous editions have sold “well over six figures” since the original 1992 publication.

Among the many other titles that stress today’s more humanistic approach are Getting inTouch with Your Puppy: A Gentle Approach to Training and Influencing Behavior by Linda Tellington-Jones (Trafalgar Square, Sept.); The Whole Dog Journal Handbook of Dog and Puppy Care and Training by Nancy Kerns (Lyons Press); and Christine Dahl’s Good Dog 101: Easy Lessons to Train Your Dog the Happy, Healthy Way (Sasquatch, Oct.).

Canine Cutups

You don’t need to be a dog parent to know how comical—often unintentionally—these quadrupeds can be. They provide inspiration for a wide variety of forthcoming humor titles, such as Scribner’s What Pets Do While You’re at Work, a photo essay that blows the cover off the furry set’s daily hijinks with a revealing photo and caption on each page, and Dog-ku, St. Martin’s canine take on the Japanese poetic form (“I found Nirvana./It was right here all along/In the kitchen trash”).

From the folks who created the bestselling Dog Is My Co-Pilot comes Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit from the editors of the Bark (Crown, Oct.), a collection of essays, stories, drawings and cartoons by such writers as Roy Blount Jr., Merrill Markoe, Al Franken, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho and Dave Barry.

ECW promises 60 of the “best, funniest and most embarrassing” photos in Dog Trick or Cat Treat: Pets Dress Up for Halloween (Sept.) by Archie Klondike; readers will be comforted to learn that “no animals were harmed in the making of this book.”

Equal Time

In all fairness to felines, it should be noted that many publishers offer pet books in pairs: matching titles for dog and cat, like 1950s salt and pepper shakers. Two notable examples come from HCI Books—Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul: Stories of Canine Companionship, Comedy and Courage and Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul: Stories of Feline Affection, Mystery and Charm. Published in fall 2005, this duo has sold more than half a million copies—dogs in the lead with 280,000 copies, cats with a (still respectable) 240,000. A new pair coming from HCI in October is bowWOW: Curiously Compelling Facts, True Tales and Trivia Even Your Dog Won’t Know and meowWOW... Author Marty Becker is the house vet on Good Morning America and the host of the new PBS series The Pet Doctor.

Just out from Storey is The Cat Behavior Answer Book by Arden Moore, which combines useful info (tail swishing is part of a cat’s predatory positioning) along with such intriguing trivia tidbits as the fact that Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door. Similarly, last summer’s The Dog Behavior Answer Book explains Fido’s many behavioral mysteries—tail-chasing and repeatedly fetching the same stick become even cuter once the reasons behind each are understood.

Wiley’s Howell Book House offers two successful backlist pet cookbooks: The Ultimate Dog Treat Cookbook and The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook by Liz Palika; any resulting obesity can hopefully be remedied with T.F.H.’s October twosome, 50 Games to Play with Your Dog and 50 Games to Play with Your Cat.

A November Quirk title, 100 Dogs Who Changed Civilization: History’s Most Influential Canines by Sam Stall, follows the author’s May paean to 100 Cats—canines and felines who raced ahead of the pack to alter world events. Read about Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated dog in U.S. history; Biche, the Italian greyhound who started a war between France and Prussia; and many more heroic hounds and tough-minded tabbies. Cats has sold around 15,000 copies, says publisher Dave Borgenicht, adding, “We published 100 Dogs not only because it was a logical follow-up, but also because we didn’t want dogs to feel insulted—they’ve done as much if not more for the world as cats have.”

Dogs Never Lie About Love

That sentiment—the title of a book by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson published exactly 10 years ago—is dear to the heart of every dog parent. As St. Martin’s associate editor Daniela Rapp puts it, “While the practical [pet titles] tend to backlist very well, the inspirational and personality-driven books get more attention and garner more sales in the short term.” St. Martin’s lists no fewer than five new dog books for the coming months, including The Leash That Binds: My Life with the World’s Toughest Dogs by Harrison Forbes. Forbes, a dog behaviorist, has trained more than 600 police dogs across the country and has hosted the syndicated radio show Pet Talk for 14 years.

Published last month by Harcourt, Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog by Ted Kerasote carries a ringing endorsement from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, megaselling author of The Hidden Life of Dogs—“It is no exaggeration to say that Merle’s Door could be the best book ever written about a dog or dogs. [It] works on many levels, emotional as well as intellectual, and there isn’t a false note in it. It is beautifully written, a real page turner, often funny, always fascinating, and very moving. It’s a book you will never forget.” According to publicity director Michelle Blankenship, Merle boasts 120,000 copies in print after three printings.

Patricia McConnell, author of Ballantine’s For the Love of a Dog: Understanding Emotion in You and Your Best Friend, will set out next month on a nine-city tour for the book’s just-released trade paper edition. Following the success of such titles as The Hidden Life of Dogs and the aforementioned Masson book, McConnell’s work explains the similarities and dissimilarities in dog and human brains and provides practical advice about understanding and responding to emotions in both people and dogs. McConnell, an associate professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin, owns Dog’s Best Friend Ltd. (, a company that specializes in family dog training and the treatment of canine aggression.

In Your Dog Interpreter: How to Understand Man’s Best Friend (Reader’s Digest, Nov.), David Alderton serves up more than 150 photographs that capture variations in facial expressions and stances in a wide variety of breeds, while the accompanying text provides insights into learning what our dogs are telling us. Among the topics covered: how to understand a dog’s vocalizations and how to recognize each breed’s emotional characteristics.

Portraits are key, too, in The Nature of Dogs (S&S, Oct.), in which Mary Ludington’s striking b&w photos are grouped by type of dog (hounds, terriers, sporting, etc.), with each breed introduced by entertaining and informative essays. We learn that the greyhound “is one of the most ancient and venerated dog breeds” and that the beagle’s name “most likely derives from the French beguele, which means 'open throat,’ or, more informally, 'loudmouth.’ ”

Finally, if cats, dogs et al. are just too mundane—or require too much upkeep—there’s always the phoenix, the nine-headed hydra or other choices to be found in Running Press’s How to Live with aUnicorn: The Fantastic Guide to Keeping Mythical Pets.

Feeding Frenzy
It began on March 19, when Menu Foods recalled some 60 million cans of pet food, packaged under a variety of brands, because several commercial pet food products were found to contain tainted ingredients. About 10 days later, Del Monte foods became the fourth pet food manufacturer to recall certain products. The ensuing uproar reached epidemic portions; with claims that at least 3,000 pets had died, consumers shunned the commercial food products on supermarket shelves, often turning instead to pet recipe books.

For the week ending March 25, Nielsen BookScan reported 194 copies sold of The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Home-Cooked Recipes for the Health and Happiness of Your Canine Companion, a 2004 title from Quarry Books—the previous week’s total was 42 copies. Other titles, too, showed spikes in sales, including Storey Publishing’s Real Food for Dogs: 50 Vet-Approved Recipes to Please the Canine Gastronome, a 2001 title by Arden Moore. According to Storey’s senior publicist Wes Seeley, that book “burst from our backlist to be the must-have book for any dog owner concerned about commercially produced dog food.”

In July, Collins published Pet Food Nation: The Smart, Easy, and Healthy Way to Feed Your Pet Now by Joan Weiskopf, a veterinary clinical nutritionist. According to Lisa Sharkey, HC’s director of creative development, “There wasn’t a book in this category that addressed the issues pet owners were facing in the wake of the food scandal, and we wanted to provide answers. So we rushed the book to print in record time—it was conceived of in late March and was on store shelves in early July.”

Coming in November from Wiley’s Howell House division is The Natural Pet Food Cookbook: Healthful Recipes for Dogs and Cats. Author Wendy Nan Rees, says Wiley publisher Cindy Kitchel, “founded Lip Smackers, a company that produces all-natural pet treats, and all of the recipes and information have been vetted by a DVM.”

It’s not only the pet food scare and the books’ reliability that attracts readers to the burgeoning crop of pet cookbooks. “We see pet books as the new parenting titles,” says Fair Winds Press marketing and publicity director Mary Aarons. “Dogs and cats are our new children. Just as readers check a book to find out what to feed a new baby, readers recently turned to books to find out what was safe to feed their pups in the recent pet-food crisis.”

Due from Quarry in November is The Good Treats Cookbook for Dogs: 50 Homemade Treats for Special Occasions plus Everything You Need to Know to Throw a Dog Party! Author Barbara Burg, who runs Barbara’s Canine Catering and the Canine Cafe in Charlotte, N.C., includes such muzzle-watering treats as Apple Oatmeal Mutt Muffins and Liver-Cheese Brownies. Says publisher Winnie Prentiss, “We had put Barbara’s book on the list before the pet food scare, based on the success of 2004’s The Good Food Cookbook for Dogs. Even prior to the pet food scare, there was a growing audience of pet owners who were interested in treating their pets like family members, not just animals.”

And while the agitation has somewhat abated, it’s by no means disappeared. According to Chris Reggio at T.F.H. Publications, “The pet food scare is still very much on the radar screen for pet parents—and is currently their number one concern. We want the best for our pets, and that’s forcing us to be more educated consumers—so we’re now reading labels more carefully, determining where ingredients come from and where products are manufactured.” Coming in October from T.F.H. is PupSnacks: 35 Delicious and Healthy Recipes to Bark Home About by Stephanie Mehanna. Says Reggio, “Rather than play into the fears over pet food, we wanted to provide a resource that would empower consumers to make healthy food choices.”
Leaders of the Pack
For the three decades following the publication of B. Kliban’s Cats in 1975, cats have ruled the book world, leaving dogs to drool. Now canines are on the ascendancy, thanks in large measure to a mischievous Labrador named Marley. “There were people writing about dogs before Marley was a glint in Mr. Grogan’s eye,” says Bruce Tracy, editorial director of Villard and executive editor of Ballantine, referring to John Grogan’s bestseller Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog (Morrow, 2005). “Marley is what cemented [the trend].”

While Marley continues to attract readers in a variety of formats, including a children’s edition that came out this spring (Bad Dog, Marley!, HarperCollins), a new litter of titles is attempting to paw their way past him. One dogged contender, a book-length ode to another Lab, Beau, Good Dog. Stay (Random House, Nov. ) by novelist and Pulitzer Prize—winning columnist Anna Quindlen, has an announced first printing of 350,000 copies. It will be packaged much like her 2002 bestseller, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, and Tracy expects that it will appeal to a similar audience in addition to dog lovers. “When I talk about [Beau],” writes Quindlen, “I’m really talking about me, about us, about our family, about our life together.... I once saw a pillow that said, 'I would like to be the man my dog thinks I am.’ That about covers it.”

Farmer and writer Jon Katz, cohost of Dog Talk on Northeast Public Radio, has developed a large following for his thoughts on dogs and other four-legged creatures. His newly published Dog Days: Dispatches from Bedlam Farm (Villard) received a PW starred review, hit the New York Times list and has 55,000 copies in print. Altogether his books on dogs have more than half a million copies in print. “If my animals have taught me anything,” writes Katz, “it’s that life moves along its own path, caring little about what we want or how we feel. Perhaps this is why dogs and other animals are so adaptable and stoic, why they seem to accept their fates while we humans struggle so bitterly to alter ours.”

Rex and Sparky (aka Joe Garden, Anita Serwacki, Janet Ginsburg, Chris Pauls and Scott Sherman) lead the genre in a different direction—with a tongue-in-the-toilet-bowl parody, The Dangerous Book for Dogs (Villard, Oct.), dedicated to Marley. Written from a dog’s point-of-view, the book offers practical tips for treeing raccoons and picking a pill out of peanut butter. It will launch with 100,000 copies.

For dogs needing a bit more discipline, trainer Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo Peltier, executive producer and co-writer of Millan’s Dog Whisperer TV series, come to the rescue with Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog... and Your Life (Harmony, Oct.). It’s not surprising that this one’s going out with a 600,000-copy first printing; the authors’ first guide, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems, spent 32 weeks on PW’s bestsellers list and has more than a million copies in print in hardcover. It will be released in paperback in September from Three Rivers Press.—Judith Rosen
Kitty Litterature
Forget Democrats and Republicans: the world’s deepest divide lies between dog people and cat people. Yet it’s harder to say where the animals themselves stand. Dogs shower humans with affection, but cats remain remote, all jewel eyes and gentle condescension. They tolerate their people, but are they pleased with us? A new batch of feline-centric fall titles wants to help bridge the gap between the species.

There’s good news and bad news for cat owners who fear they’re failing their charges—they are, but there’s help. Notes Gotham Books associate editor Jessica Sindler, “Cats feel neglected. They’d never tell you so; they’ll just shred the furniture.” The eternal dance of love between a cat’s claws and the leather sofa may have prompted several publishers to roll out comprehensive cat care volumes. Martha Stewart’s Cat Chat radio show host Tracie Hotchner decided to end the myth that cats require no training or specialized care; her The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know (Gotham, Oct.) offers guidance on everything from grooming to pet insurance. Tips include the straightforward (start leash training with young cats), the less commonly known (avoid dry cat food) and the esoteric (use Feliway, a synthetic feline facial pheromone spray).

Diane Morgan’s Good Catkeeping: A Comprehensive Guide to All Things Feline (T.F.H., Oct.) takes a contemporary approach to demystifying cat ownership. Marketing and publicity coordinator Joe Corcione describes the book as “the most up-to-date complete daily care and health guide available for the modern cat owner.” That includes guidance on cat-friendly airplane travel, hotel stays, wills, divorces, and raw and natural diets, plus a lexicon of cat body language and vocalizations.

Other references use a q&a format to answer any questions that plague a prospective cat owner, from the siren call of the great outdoors to the first tentative meet-and-greet between infant and pet. Sterling’s The Complete Guide to Understanding & Caring for Your Cat (Nov.) focuses on nurturing a cat’s emotional, behavioral and physical health. Cat therapist Carole C. Wilbourn is “an expert author who understands cats and is sensitive to their needs,” says Sterling CEO Charles Nurnberg. In addition, Barron’s/Compass Guides 300 Questions About Cats by Gerd Ludwig (Oct.) provides a convenient reference for acquiring a cat, defining the necessary accessories and proper nourishment, plus info on feline anatomy, behavior traits and body language.

By this time Fluffy should be just about perfect—fears and hopes communicated, feelings validated, whiskers cleaned—and the only path left is enlightenment. Clarkson Potter’s illustrated guide to Cat Yoga: Fitness and Flexibility for the Modern Feline by Rick Tillotson (Oct.) is a tongue-in-cheek way of ensuring that pets are as hip, centered and flexible as possible. Along the way to feline tranquillity, the book promises improved mental clarity, sleek muscle tone and “fuller, more luxurious whiskers.”

Lastly, for those inclined to a fun-filled wallow in all things cat, Houghton Mifflin’s Planet Cat: A Cat-alog by Sandra Choron, Harry Choron and Arden Moore (Nov.) gathers more than 400 lists of cat phenomena: how to say meow in 46 languages, signs you’re becoming a cat lady, celebrity cat lovers, recipes and IQ tests for the well-considered cat. “There’s a lot of great history of cats in culture and religion, from Egypt onward, also profiles of famous and unusual cats,” says senior editor Susan Canavan. “I’m a dog person, but I’ve been charmed.” High praise, indeed. —Michelle Wildgen
Rescue Dogs
One of the major trends in today’s pet books, says Wiley publisher Cindy Kitchel, is that “pets are no longer seen as just 'animals,’ but as beings with the rights of all beings to have a home, provisions and the opportunity to trust and love.” Not all pets, of course, are this fortunate—many wind up homeless, in shelters and worse. Wiley’s Howell House, in conjunction with the ASPCA, is publishing an anthology of happy endings: Hopeful Tails:Stories of Rescued Pets and Their Forever Families collects photos and stories from adoptive pet parents. The September release, says Kitchel, has been developed exclusively for Borders, and $1 for every book sold through June 30, 2008, will be donated by Borders to the ASPCA.