A smiling happy dogThere are myths and misconceptions about virtually every animal, but when it comes to pets, there are so many more! This is because we spend our lives observing and interacting with them so closely and often form many assumptions about their health and behaviors.

In a previous blog, we debunked several common cat myths. This week, The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center want to discuss popular dog myths and how these seemingly innocuous beliefs could result in negative outcomes.

10 Popular Dog Myths That Don’t Hold Water

  1. Dogs need to have at least one litter before being spayed for their health. Aside from the residual effect of pet overpopulation, this myth is entirely untrue. In fact, evidence shows that having your pet spayed before they go into heat can significantly reduce their chances of developing certain cancers, such as mammary cancer.
  2. A warm nose indicates illness. This belief may have been the result of widespread disease among canines, including distemper, a symptom of which was a warm nose. Actually, a warm, moist nose is the ideal for a healthy dog.
  3. I need to show my dog that I’m the boss. It was once thought that a tough love, Alpha approach to training was the best way to train dogs. Today, we realize that positive reinforcement, or reward based training, is more effective and doesn’t result in some of the behavioral challenges or fear that can ensue with owner aggression.
  4. Wagging is a sign of happiness. Yes, we’re sure your precious pal wags out of sheer joy, but did you know that wagging is not just a sign of happiness? It’s also a sign of aggression, curiosity, fear, and even pain.
  5. Shelter dogs can’t be trained. This is perhaps the saddest of all dog myths because there are so many deserving dogs who need homes. Most dogs who are shown patience and consistent training can become a star pupil. Love, patience, and professional training are the ingredients for success, especially when it comes to our sweet shelter pets.
  6. Only male dogs hump. This embarrassing habit is something we associate with males, but there are many females who hump and even urinate by lifting a leg. There are several reasons for this, including establishing territory, gaining social status, or just plain liking it (even though we don’t!).
  7. Dogs eat grass because they’re sick. The idea that dogs eat grass in order to vomit and make themselves feel better has been disputed. There’s no evidence that grass eating means there’s an illness at hand. Other theories suggest they may be ridding themselves of internal parasites or are simply in need of the added fiber. The jury is still out on this.
  8. Dogs only see in black and white. Not so! Dogs can see in shades of blue, yellow, and grey, but not as vibrantly as we can. Their inability to see the red-green spectrum is similar to humans with color blindness.
  9. A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. Love those puppy kisses? Yeah, you may want to grab the Listerine. Dog mouths are full of bacteria and are probably a lot dirtier than our mouths, especially given the fact that dental hygiene is often overlooked in pets. So start brushing those canines (get it?) every day!
  10. Indoor dogs don’t need to worry about heartworm. This a big lie regarding indoor pets and parasite protection, which sets these pets up for exposure. Heartworm, fleas, internal parasites, and ticks can all be a problem for any pet because it only takes one instance of exposure to acquire an illness. Talk to us about your pet’s risk.

What dog myths have you heard about? Are there any additional ones you want to bust? Let us know by calling us or commenting on our Facebook.