05/11/2010 at 12:03 PM EDT
Though Beth Ostrosky Stern
prided herself on being a devoted parent to Bianca, her 8-year-old English bulldog, she had no idea that she was feeding her a diet that consisted of mostly peanut shells.
The animal lover only discovered the hard truth when she was researching the 60-page chapter on dog nutrition for her new book, a 500-page tome called Oh My Dog
Peanut shells for her beloved Bianca Romijn-Stamos-O'Connell-Ostrosky-Stern? That wasn't going to work. So Ostrosky Stern learned how to read a dog food label, changed Bianca's diet and is now sharing her knowledge with other dog owners.
"Within two weeks, her fur became thicker, she had more energy, and she's running around like a puppy," Ostrosky Stern says of the dog she shares with husband Howard Stern. "Her life has changed from the changing of the food, and I had no idea."
The author, already a passionate spokesperson for the North Shore Animal League America
, used her experience – and access to experts – at the country's largest no-kill shelter to put together Oh My Dog
, a resource for dog owners. From choosing a pup (and considering whether your lifestyle allows for one), to feeding and grooming, and even saying goodbye, Ostrosky Stern "covered all the bases."
For training tips, Ostrosky Stern reached out to experts like Tamar Geller, a life coach for dogs, and Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts. For grooming, she turned to fellow NSALA fixture and celebrity groomer Jorge Bendersky
, and for some make-at-home recipes for dog food, she asked Rachael Ray for help. The result was a "must-have," according to Joanne Yohannen of the NSALA, "packed with practical information."
The book project started as Ostrosky Stern's public profile became more and more associated with animals.
"On a daily basis, I'm walking my dog, and people come up to me asking, 'Beth! What do I do for this? How do I do this?' I'm like, 'I don't know!' " Ostrosky Stern tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I would go back to my apartment, go online and I'd realize how much misinformation is out there, or so much information – how do you know what's right?"
Even Howard Stern got involved in the learning process –and why wouldn't he? He, too, is passionate about animals and "cries when he sees baby seals on our beach," his wife says. The couple recently adopted a special-needs adult cat named Apple, who sits next to her daddy whenever he plays chess.
"Every hurt animal seems to come our way," Ostrosky Stern says.
Case in point: One day this winter, when she and Bianca were out on their 4 a.m. walk, their doorman pointed at a little owl walking along the sidewalk toward traffic on Broadway. It had hit the side of Ostrosky Stern's building and fallen down.
"Next thing you know, I'm in a taxi taking the owl to a hospital center, and my husband is talking about it on the radio," Ostrosky Stern says, adding that they then saw the wee one through rehabilitation.
A book on birds isn't on the horizon right now, but Ostrosky Stern will continue to consult her book's expert tips for help with Bianca, and to answer any of those sidewalk questions that come her way. Oh My Dog
) is on shelves now.Read more about Beth Ostrosky Stern on PEOPLEPets.com:Beth Ostrosky Stern: Making Pets in Need Her MissionStars Put Pets First, Even on the Green Carpet, for N.Y.C. Charity Gala