Debunking Popular Puppy Tales

More than 55 billion dollars, that's what industry experts expect Americans to spend on their pets in 2013! 14 billion of that will go towards vet care and pet prescriptions. While we want the best for our furry family members, believing tall tales could hurt them!

Our pets make us happy and it's our job to keep them healthy, but how can you tell if they really are?

It's something we've all heard, but it's not true! A dry nose without any other symptoms might just be a sign that your house is too dry. 

Another myth, adding garlic to dogs' diets helps prevent fleas and ticks. The truth is garlic does little to prevent the pests, but chemicals in it can cause an increased heart rate, even anemia.

Veterinary doctor Brenda Stevens says use flea and tick meds to protect your pets. Make sure you apply topicals directly to the skin- on the back of the neck.

"If your dog does a lot of swimming and you're bathing your dog frequently, then a topical may not be most efficient for you, so something oral might work a little better," North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor Brenda J. Stevens, DVM, told Ivanhoe.

And beware of flea and tick meds with pyrethroids. A study found the chemical was responsible for at least 16 hundred pet deaths over a five year period.

As for pets' pearly whites, many believe dogs naturally brush their teeth, but they're wrong! Doctor Stevens says it's important to manually brush your dog's teeth at least a couple of times a week with pet toothpaste, not your own.

What about locating a missing pet? One manufacturer says ten thousand pets are reunited with their families every month because of microchips, but the internet is full of claims that they can also cause cancer in our animals. However, there have been no large scale studies on the issue, but out of the millions of pets with microchips only a small number of tumors have been reported.

When it comes to bath time, Doctor Stevens says most dogs should only be bathed once every few months. Doing it more can dry out the natural oils in their fur and cause skin irritation. She says between baths you should brush as much as possible to prevent odor and excess shedding. Brushing daily can also help stop fleas and ticks before they become a problem. It takes a tick 24 hours to transmit disease to a dog.

BACKGROUND: Keeping your dog healthy is one of the most imperative jobs you will face as an owner; even the most experienced dog owner can be misled by some of the myths floating around. Here are some truths and myths about your furry pet.

DOGS ARE COLOR BLIND: Dogs do see in color. However, they see differently than most people do and are less able to distinguish between colors. Veterinary ophthalmologists have determined that dogs see like people who have red/green color blindness. Dogs cannot easily distinguish between yellow, green and red, but they can identify different shades of blue, purple and gray. (SOURCE:

DOG WOUNDS HEAL BEST WITH DOG SALIVA: The myth that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a humans and that their saliva contains healing properties has been around far too long.  Yes, it is true that a dog's saliva can be toxic to some bacteria, but it carries its own population of bacteria and other infectious organisms. That population is just different from the assortment of bacteria and other "germs" in the human mouth, based largely upon differences in diet. In reality, allowing a dog to lick even a minor cut or wound can lead to a serious infection. (SOURCE:;

ANIMAL BONES ARE VITAL TO A DOG'S NUTRITION: Tossing a dog a leftover steak bone does excite them, but it actually offers far more risks than health benefits. Bones tend to splinter and break apart in a dog's strong jaws and offer little value to a balanced diet. Realistically, bone fragments may lodge in a dog's throat, or create a life threatening tear in his digestive system. (SOURCE:

ADDING MEAT DRIPPINGS OR COOKING OIL TO DOG FOOD PUTS SHINE IN THE COAT: A healthy diet and proper grooming are better paths to glossy, fur coats. Too much fat in a dog's diet can instead create unwanted gastrointestinal issues or life threatening conditions such as pancreatitis. (SOURCE:

For More Information, Contact:

Brenda J. Stevens, DVM
Clinical Assistant Professor
North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

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