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Truth or Lie - Old Wives Tales About Dogs: Common Dog Myths

By: Renae Hamrick, RVT

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There are countless theories and ideas out there on dogs and dog care. What should you believe? Is it true or is it merely an old wives' tale that has mutated as it has been passed along?

Listed below are several common dog myths, old wives' tales, and legends and the truth or lack of truth they contain.

1. A cold, wet nose means the dog is healthy. – This is not entirely true. Yes, a dog's nose is often cool and moist, but this does not necessarily indicate health. It is possible for an ill dog's nose to feel this way, and it is possible for a healthy dog to have a dry, warm nose. More appropriate meters of your pet's health are his appetite, energy level, and overall comfort level. If you are concerned about your dog's temperature, rather than feel his nose, it is best to use a thermometer and take the temperature rectally.

2. Dogs eat grass to induce vomiting. – As a general rule, dogs eat grass because they like it. A popular theory for the reason behind a dog's love of plant life is that their ancestors (wolves and foxes) consumed many greens when devouring their prey's intestinal contents. As a result, their descendents still have a taste for grass. Is it possible that dogs also eat grass to induce vomiting? Maybe. It is also possible that they eat grass because it is appealing, and vomiting is the unfortunate result. The answer to this question is unclear.

3. Chocolate is toxic. – This tale is true. Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate are two components of chocolate that are not as well tolerated by dogs as they are by humans. In large enough quantities, these components can have detrimental effects. In order of least to most toxic, the chocolates are white, milk, semi-sweet, and baking. Even if your dog has not eaten enough chocolate to be toxic, the high fat content may cause vomiting and diarrhea.

4. If you have a wound, let your dog lick it to help it heal. – Dogs have a lot of bacteria in their mouths – think of all the things they eat and lick! Do NOT let your pet lick your wounds!

5. Feeding raw eggs improves hair coat quality. - If you are concerned about the quality of your pet's hair coat, talk to you veterinarian. Poor coat quality could be an indicator of disease or malnutrition. The best way to maintain a shiny coat is to feed a high quality diet, brush your pet regularly, bathe him with a quality shampoo that is appropriate to his hair type, and use a finishing spray if necessary. Feeding raw eggs can be dangerous.

6. Use garlic to prevent fleas. – This method is not reliable and can be dangerous. Garlic in certain quantities can be toxic to pets. The best way to prevent fleas is to use a product sold by your veterinarian.

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