Book Review: The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets by Dr. Barbara Royal

Book Review: The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets by Dr. Barbara Royal

I wasn't sure what to expect from a book about raising a healthy pet. This book and the advice Dr. Royal dispenses was more satisfyingly entertaining and informative than I would have thought.

After watching the documentary Pet Fooled, I was looking for more information on pet diets. Since Dr. Barbara Royal was one of the vets interviewed in the documentary I decided to start with her program.

Her introduction about her house burning down immediately establishes rapport with any pet owner.

Dr. Royal received a phone call from a neighbor telling her that her house was on fire, and she did what many pet owners do. She raced home and tried to save her cats and dogs.

She gave three pieces of solid advice to pet owners:

  1. Put an in-case-of-fire sign on windows or doors that tells what pets live with you. Indicate how many and what types of animals they are.
  2. Microchip your pets. If your pets escape, an agency that finds them has a better chance of identifying them and contacting you.
  3. Be sure to secure the animals that have been rescued so they can't get back into the burning building.

Her story and advice jolted me into action. My pup is already micro-chipped, but we didn't have the window decals indicating how many pets we have. I found several on Amazon at reasonable prices. I did like this one featuring a dalmatian fire dog.


In the opening two sections where she defines wild health, she also weaves in her back story about quitting her advertising job to apply for a part-time position in Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo hospital, where she worked for four years before entering veterinary school.

When I got to Part III where she covers pet diets, I was more than hooked. Then I read her basic philosophy on pet food:

“With each passing year as a vet, animal nutrition becomes simpler and simpler to me: feed appropriate foods. This is similar to what Micael Pollan says of human nutrition.”

Most of my highlights in my e-book relate to this section on diet. While she does include raw food recipes, she also gives many tips on how to supplement your dog's diet with various ingredients and foods that address specific concerns or problems.

Her easy, almost conversational, writing style makes her subject accessible. She doesn't get overly technical in her language.

Instead, she mixes a variety of anecdotes with her advice, which makes for a mostly enjoyable read. Be prepared. If you're prone to water works the way I am, many of her stories about various zoo animals, wild animals, and pets will bring you to tears.

Her success with animal acupuncture and various rehabilitation therapies is truly impressive. She makes it clear that she's an integrative vet, so she will use medications and more traditional methods when they are life saving and/or appropriate. However, once a crisis has passed, if she sees opportunities to adjust a pet's diet or use massage or other therapies to potentially replace some medications, she will.

Her section on euthanasia is incredibly helpful. She shares her own story about the process she went through in deciding when the right time was for one of her dogs to be euthanized. I can't imagine the person who doesn't struggle with this decision. She gives practical advice on this topic, including questions any pet owner can ask themselves.

“A sad, but good rule of thumb:

If you feel like you are performing practically all the duties a life support system might do in an ICU in order to keep a pet alive, and there is little hope for recovery, it’s probably time to let your pet go.”

At the end of the book, she includes a Suggested Reading list that is varied. She includes books from other vets, but she also has books on there like The Element by Sir Ken Robinson and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

I've read this book once. I need to read it again to better process all of the information that she weaves through her numerous tales. While I did highlight a good deal of this e-book, I think I would prefer a physical copy of this book to use as an easier reference, especially in the kitchen.

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