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Staying Healthy

Common Dog Myths & Misconceptions

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Many of us have gathered little bits of information about dogs over that years. Bits of advice from friends about how to tell if a dog is sick, or old wives’ tales about using garlic to ward off fleas… well, just because it’s generally accepted, doesn’t mean it’s true. In this article, Dr. Debra Primovic from PetsPlace.com explains 16 common dog myths and misconceptions.

Common Dog Myths & Misconceptions

1. Dogs should have a litter before they are spayed.

This is not true. Dogs that have a litter before they are spayed are not better for it in any way. In fact, spayed dogs are at lower risk for breast cancer and uterine infections.

2. Dogs are sick when their noses are warm.

The temperature of a dogs nose does not indicate health or illness. It also does not indicate if they have a fever. There is an “old wives tale” that cold wet noses indicate good health and that warm or dry noses indicate a fever or illness. The only accurate method to access a dog’s temperature is to take it with a thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees F.

3. Mutts are always healthier than purebred dogs.

This is not true. Both mutts and purebred dogs can be either healthy or unhealthy. However, mutts generally do not have many of the genetic diseases that may be common in purebred lines.

4. All dogs like to be petted on their heads.

Some dogs do like to be petted on their heads but many do NOT.

5. Happy dogs wag their tails.

This may be true but aggressive dogs often wag their tails too. There are several physical body motions and cues that help dogs communicate their intent. A wagging tail can mean either agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his entire rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually demonstrating a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, tails that “twitch” or a wagging tail held over the back may be associated with aggression.

6. Only male dogs will ‘hump” or lift their leg to urinate.

This is not true. Female dogs, especially dominant female dogs, will lift their leg to urinate and “hump” other dogs or objects. This can be true even in spayed female dogs.

7. Table scraps are good for dogs.

Some table scraps such as bones and pieces of fat can be dangerous to some pets. Dogs may not digest the bones and the fat may cause gastrointestinal problems such as pancreatitis.

8. Garlic prevents fleas.

Garlic has NOT been proven helpful for flea control. Large amounts of garlic can even be harmful.

9. Household “pet dogs” don’t need trained.

This is not true. Every dog should be trained.

10. Dogs eat grass when they are sick.

Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill”. This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of dog’s normal diet and eating small amounts of grass is normal.

11. Dogs like tasty food.

Dogs have very poor taste buds and eat primarily based on their sense of smell.

12. Licking is Healing.

It is natural for a dog to lick its wound but this not necessarily always “healing”. Too much licking can actually prohibit healing.

13. Dogs will let you know when they are sick.

This is not true. Dogs generally are very good at hiding that they are sick by survival instinct, thus not to appear vulnerable to “prey”. Often by the time they show you that they are sick, their disease or condition is quite advanced.

14.Dogs that are mostly indoors don’t need heartworm prevention.

This is not true. Indoor pets are also at risk for heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes, which can come inside.

15. Dogs eat rocks, lick concrete or eat their or another animals stools because of nutrient imbalances.

No one knows why dogs eat “stuff” that they should not eat. Some veterinarians believe that some dogs that eat “things” may be trying to get attention or acting out of boredom. It is important for dogs to eat a well balanced diet that will fulfill their dietary and nutrient requirements and have plenty of opportunities for play and exercise.

16. Dogs don’t need housebroken – they naturally know where to go.

Oh…if only this were true. You need to train your dog on where to go. This preferably happens when you start at a young age and give your dog positive encouragement for jobs well done.

See the original post here. Do you know any other common dog myths & misconceptions that turned out to not be true? Tell us about them below!

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  1. Avatar Of Carole Ranger Spencer

    Carole Ranger Spencer


    “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Not true. My pup is 11 and she learns new things all the time. I recently taught her to roll over. We’re working on fetching a particular item. I’ll tell her to get s specific toy out of her basket and she brings it to me (sometimes, she’s starting to get it.) You can teach an old dog new tricks. It keeps them from getting bored.

  2. Avatar Of Nancy Gale

    Nancy Gale


    My kids always wag their tails when happy. My girl Sheba stands completely still and her tail stand up with the hair on her back if she’s gonna get aggressive(she’s been attacked 3 times by neighbor dogs while we were walking). Usually my kids will eat grass if they have a bellyache, I know because they almost always throw up even if it’s just a little bit they ate. Dogs can eat chicken and rib bones. Mine have MANY times by getting in the garbage, I haven’t had problems from splintering thank God! But I bag those up now and keep them away. My girl also does the humping thing after my boy has been busy a while, she’s 9 and was fixed at 6mos, no litter. Thanks for this wonderful site!!

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