Johannesburg SPCA

Top 10 Pet Myths Debunked!

1. You can use your dog’s flea medicine for your cat

When you give your cat flea and tick preventive medication, you protect its outsides and its insides because fleas and ticks carry bacteria and parasites that can cause serious and even fatal disease in domestic cats.

Fact: Dog and cat flea and tick preventives are not the same

Many prescription and over-the-counter flea and tick medications that are labelled for dogs (usually ones you apply topically rather than have your dog swallow) contain a synthetic compound called permethrin, which is safe for dogs but toxic to cats. If a product containing permethrin is mistakenly applied to a cat or eaten by one, it can cause seizures, coma and even death.

Partner with your vet to keep your cat safe (from fleas, ticks and toxic compounds)

Flea and tick products that contain permethrin should always be labelled for use in dogs only. Some of these products also contain warnings to never use on a cat, but these warnings are sometimes small and hard to read.

If you buy flea and tick products from your veterinarian’s office or from your veterinarian’s online pharmacy (instead of from a big box store), the products should come with a prescription label that clearly states whether the product is safe for cats. You also have the benefit of being able to get direct guidance from your veterinary team on the best products for your cat for total peace of mind.

Safety Tips

  • Store your dog’s flea and tick products separately from the products for your cat. Since they have similar packaging and small print, it’s easy to grab the wrong product by mistake. Speaking of keeping things separate, keep your dog away from your cat right after applying the flea and tick medicine, as even close contact with permethrin can harm your cat.
  • Never split single doses of flea and tick medication between your dog and cat. In addition to toxicity concerns, dosing will be incorrect. Your pets won’t get the protection they need, which could cause a flea infestation or tick problem.
  • If you ever have a question about your pet’s flea and tick products, speak up! Your veterinary team is always ready to help—even if you decide to buy your pet’s preventives somewhere else.

Source: Sarah J. Wooten, DVM

2. A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth

While most germs in a dog’s mouth are dog-specific and harmless to a human being, that doesn’t mean that a dog’s mouth is actually cleaner than a human’s.

They’re both filled with a fairly equal amount of bacteria—not all of which can be transmitted between species. But a dog licks many things that most people would not want on or near their face (especially those pups who like to go digging through the trash), so it’s always a good idea to keep any smooching sessions with your dog to a minimum—especially because a dog can transfer bacteria to a human that could result in an infection.

3. Rubbing your dog’s nose in an accident will prevent them in the future

Again, myth. Dog’s tend to understand behavior problems at the time that the behavior occurs. So, when you come home to find an accident and rub your dog’s nose in it, it is very likely that he will not make the connection to know what he did. So, you are in essence punishing a dog that doesn’t know why he is being punished. This could exacerbate the issue and create more potty problems in the future. Rather, it is best to try and catch him in the act and redirect him to his proper potty destination. Also, make sure to clean up accidents with a pet friendly cleaner, as dogs have an acute sense of smell and will often return to spots they’ve marked before.

That only makes your dog afraid of you. Instead of learning to potty outdoors, it will find hidden places to go in the house and avoid relieving itself in front of you, even outdoors.

“Punishment is often overly harsh and used incorrectly,” Dr. Bain says. “The best way to train any animal is to reward the appropriate behavior.”

To successfully housetrain a dog, always take it out on leash so that when it potties outside, you will be right there to reward it with a treat, praise, a favorite toy or playtime afterward.

4. Cats love milk

Prior to contrary belief, cats — and dogs! — cannot break down the lactose found in many dairy products. Consuming it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other intestinal issues. Instead, invest in a cat water fountain, as cats are naturally drawn to moving water. Despite what you’ve seen on TV or in the movies, giving your kitty store-bought white milk in a little saucer can cause serious stomach problems!

Should you want to give your cat milk, it may be best to purchase a lactose-free equivalent. Although, bear in mind that any milk will contain calories and may lead them to put on weight. Kittens must drink milk in order to survive, but only their mother’s or specially-tailored formula milk purchased from a vet.

5. If your dog’s nose is hot, then they must be sick

Untrue, as they could have just been in the sun for too long. If you want to check for a fever, feel the dog’s head with your hand, and if it is scorching hot make sure to head to a full service companion animal hospital for quality veterinary care. Even if you are just worried that your pet is acting odd, a veterinary technician can correctly diagnose any ailments they may have.

Dryness or discoloration of a dog’s nose doesn’t necessarily mean a dog is sick. A dog’s nose actually naturally dries out in its sleep, but is right back to normal about 10 minutes after it wakes up. Dryness can also be due to allergies, sunburn, or dehydration, and some dogs’ noses tend to get dryer as they age.

Your dog’s nose is not always wet, so when it’s dry sometimes there’s no need to worry, it’s completely normal! It may be dry, for example, just after he’s woken up from a nap; this is because he’s not licking his nose when he sleeps which stops the constant flow of moisture to it. It can also become temporarily dry from lying too close to a radiator or a heater in the colder months, because of the warm air blowing into their face. Their nose will usually go back to its moist, original state pretty soon after waking up/moving away from a strong heat source. However, if they ever have any difficulty breathing, crustiness around the nose or discharge, you should call your vet.

6. Your pet does not need regular grooming

It is important to invest in pet grooming in order to keep the fleas at bay. Groomers will also maintain the health of your animal’s coat, clean their ears, check their eyes, and clip their nails to make walking easier. Plus regular cleaning will make your pet feel brand new!

7. Never give pets ‘people food’

When it comes to pizza, Kung Pao chicken, chocolate and onion rings, it’s true; you shouldn’t be sharing high-fat, spicy or potentially toxic foods with your pet. But cantaloupe, crunchy raw or lightly steamed vegetables, and meat with fat and gristle trimmed off are favorites of many animals and shouldn’t be off limits. For instance, baby carrots, apples and popcorn are excellent low-calorie treats for dogs. And as long as you’re using high-quality ingredients and a good recipe that meets a pet’s nutritional needs, “people food” is perfectly healthy as a regular meal for your dog or cat.

“The biggest concern with feeding (pets) ‘people food’ is that most people feed too much and create an unbalanced or incomplete diet,” says veterinary nutritionist Sally Perea, who is a co-owner of Davis Veterinary Medical Consulting in Davis, Calif., and senior nutritionist for Natura Pet Products. “As a rule, treats or human foods fed to a pet on a commercial diet should be limited to no more than 10 percent of their daily calories.”

Of course, there are some foods you should never feed your pets. Find a list here.

8. Dogs and cats eat grass when they’re sick

Nope, they’re just connoisseurs of the green stuff, says Marty Becker, DVM, author with Gina Spadafori of “The Ultimate Dog Lover” and “The Ultimate Cat Lover.”

“They love the taste and texture of grass,” he says. “The newer shoots with a little water on them from the sprinklers or rain is even better.”

He adds, however, that sometimes dogs will consume large amounts of grass, which then propels food through the intestinal system, either back up or out the other end, so that may be the source of the belief.

Your pet is relying on you to keep them happy and healthy. Make sure to understand these myths to keep them smiling from ear to ear!

9. Bad breath is normal

A healthy pet has fresh breath. Just as in people, bad breath is a sign of a serious health problem.

“Periodontal disease is the number one most commonly diagnosed problem in veterinary medicine,” Dr. Becker says. “By having good oral health, pets can live up to 15 percent longer, which is an average of two years.”

10. Cats are solitary animals and like to be left alone

By their nature, cats are solitary creatures. While dogs descend from wolves which live in family groups, most wild cats live alone.

However, domesticated cats can form very close bonds to people, as well as forming unlikely friendships with other animals such as dogs. Indeed, cats can come to rely on the companionship of humans and, on rare occasions, can even develop separation anxiety should the owner leave them for a long space of time, or even abandon them.

Bonus Fact: Your pets rely on you for care

We can safely say that this one is true! Your dog sees you as his pack leader and relies on you for his care. This means finding him proper nutrition, regularly grooming him, exercising him, taking him to the vet regularly and providing him with extra pets and snuggles when he needs them.

It’s easy to understand how misconceptions can spread, but now it’s your turn as a well-informed pet parent to set the record straight. The next time you hear one of these dog myths from a friend, tell them where to fetch the truth!

Brush your pet’s teeth regularly, making sure to use a toothpaste that’s intended for your dog or cat. Daily is best, but even weekly is better than nothing.

We hope these tips help! Until next time


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