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10 Pet Myths That Drive Vets Crazy

pet legends
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Although Dr. Patty Khuly keeps hoping that its time will come, the internet hasn’t done much to dispel some erroneous thinking on the subject of pet healthcare.

If anything, the Web is fueled by the kind of rumor mill sensibility that leads to even more misinformation on the subject of pet health and pet care. Case in point: the widespread willingness to believe that someone actually microwaved a pet to dry it off.

To that end, here’s a list of urban myths straight from Dr. Khuly herself that drive her crazy!

1. A Cold, Wet, Dry or Warm Nose Tells Us Something

dog nose
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Although some pets’ noses might be capable of offering us some useful information, most of them do not — which is why veterinarians do not rely on this information at all when taking stock of a pet’s history and physical exam.

2. “Happy Pet” Behavior

smiling dog
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People have a thing about assuming that pets are really happy when they exhibit certain behaviors, which can lead to all kinds of poor decision-making. A tail wag doesn’t always mean that a dog is pleased to see you. A stiff tail wag, in fact, is a sure sign that you should watch your step.

A purring cat is not always a content cat. If that were the case, my right arm wouldn’t be as scratched up as it is at the moment. After the owner of a new patient swore that her cat was a “purring angel,” I reached to pet her and got a sharp set of claws in response to my advance. She was purring though.

3. Bad Bloat Advice

fat cat
Elsie esq., Flickr

Is there any large-breed dog disease that freaks owners out as much as gastric-dilatation volvulus (a.k.a. bloat)? Unlikely. This is probably why there’s so much misinformation about the disease all over the Web and in casual conversations. Does drinking cold water give a dog bloat? No. Does using a raised feeder decrease bloat? No.

If you are concerned about bloat at all, just talk with your vet.

4. Pet Mouths Are Cleaner Than Yours or Mine

dog drool
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Nope, but there are some caveats. After all, I’d rather be mauled by a dog than lightly bitten by a human with hepatitis C.

5. Purebreds Are Healthier Than Mutts

sick dog
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There’s been a lot of talk about this lately. Here’s the upshot: Purebreds are not necessarily healthier, because they are prone to more genetic diseases.

6. People Food Isn’t for Pets

begging dog
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In my opinion, this lie would have you believing any food that doesn’t come canned or kibbled is toxic, will make your pet fat or will automatically put you in the category of “bad pet parent.” The unspoken corollary to this message: You need a Ph.D. in nutrition to know how to feed your pets a balanced diet — unless you offer commercial food alone.

7. Pregnant Women Can’t Scoop Litter

kitty litter
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I don’t mind if you claim to not be able to clean the litterbox for nine whole months, but it isn’t really true. Transmission of the organism that causes toxoplasmosis is not possible, as long as you scoop the litter daily, which is how you should do it anyway.

Don’t believe me? Here’s what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say on the subject.

8. Pets Need to Lick Their Wounds

licking cat
Thinkstock

Wound licking is great for pets if they’re simply getting debris off a fresh injury, but continuing to lick only exacerbates inflammation and infection. That’s why e-collars exist, and any licking of a surgical site is not a good thing — regardless of what you may have heard about the healing properties of dog saliva.

9. Cats Always Land Feet First

Superman cat
Thinkstock

I can offer you plenty of examples of a cat who made a splat and broke bones. Cats will not always land on their feet if they don’t have enough time to relax and make a complete revolution in the air before landing, or if the surface they land on is irregular.

It should also be inferred from this myth-busting statement that cats do not have nine lives.

10. Mothers Reject Animal Babies Who’ve Been Held by Humans

mother cat and kitten
Thinkstock

OK, some moms will take issue with your human aroma, but the vast majority of domesticated pets won’t give a rat’s backside whether you touch their babes or not. Wild animals might, but birds, for instance, have little way of knowing whether you’ve messed with their younglings, since their sense of smell is sorely lacking.

Takeaway points: Feel free to play with newborn puppies and kittens. Downed nests (or babies) should be replaced because they have a better chance of survival that way.

Also on Vetstreet:

Vetstreet.com is a new animal health and lifestyle site dedicated to giving you the most accurate pet information possible, so you can keep your dogs and cats healthy and happy. Our articles are written and reviewed by leading veterinarians, journalists, and animal health experts.

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