You’ve heard them and you probably believe some of it. But truth be told, there are many dog myths out there that are just simply not true. Perhaps they are old wives’ tales or stories of happenstance passed from generation to generation and have caught on in the age of the internet. No matter how comforting and common these things are they must be corrected. We asked experts and vets to weigh in on the worst dog myths and other crazy ‘facts’ about dogs.
Worst Dog Myth #1: Dogs heal themselves by licking their wounds
People believe that dog saliva is antiseptic and can clean their wounds. This is not true at all. In fact, it’s counter-intuitive. Your dog’s mouth is full of bacteria and is far more likely to cause infection and delay healing in their wound when they lick it. Experts advise using saline solution, a disinfecting solution, or hydrogen peroxide instead when treating wounds.
Worst Dog Myth #2: Brushing my dog’s teeth is silly
You might feel silly doing it. After all, wolves and foxes don’t have their teeth brushed and they seem alright in the wild, right? Not! Dental disease can cause health issues in dogs and it can be painful for them to have bad teeth. Experts say brushing helps minimize dog dental problems. When you regularly brush them you are also checking their mouths for internal tumors and other problems that may have gone unnoticed.
Worst Dog Myth #3: A human year is equal to 7 in dog years
We have all heard this one many times before. Dog breeds and dog sizes have varying life spans. Experts say that small breeds tend to live longer while large breeds tend to have shorter life spans. New guidelines from Boston’s Animal Rescue League assume that a 1-year-old dog is equal to a 12-year-old human. The amount doubles after that (2 is equal to 24 years). Continue adding 4 years for every age that follows.
Worst Dog Myth #4: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Is it ever too late for old dogs to learn new tricks? Apparently not according to the experts. It’s best to teach dogs when they are young, but your dog can still learn new things at any stage of life. The process may be harder and could take longer, but there’s still hope. They say that socialization, obedience, behavior modification, and even potty training can still be taught to older dogs. You can try to do it yourself or have a certified trainer work with your pet.
Worst Dog Myth #5: A dog will cry out if they’re feeling pain
The answer is not all the time. It’s important to listen for changes in sounds and vocalizations your dog makes, but that is not the only indication if your dog is in pain. Check out their posture. Are they limping? That’s one of the sure ways to know. Licking a particular paw or scratching is another. Are they walking gingerly? tucking their tummy? Are they hunched over or holding their head down? These are the signs to look out for to know if your dog is hurting.
Worst Dog Myth #6: There’s a reason dogs eat grass
No one knows for sure, but experts argue this behavior goes back to the wild origins of dogs. During their meat-hunting days, they ate all the prey as well as the gut and the plant material it contained. Nowadays, they retain that instinct to take in vegetation and may eat grass partly out of some deep-seeded programming. Grass is perfectly fine as long as it isn’t coated in pesticides or herbicides
Worst Dog Myth #7: I don’t need to vaccinate my dog
You may or may not like vaccinating your dog, but rabies is a human health issue too and laws require you to vaccinate your pups. Also, some establishments and facilities require your pets to have certain vaccines. The best way is still to consult your vet so you could determine the best action for you and your pet.
Worst Dog Myth #8: My dog’s thick fur coat means they stay warm in winter
While it helps to have thicker fur to keep from cold, a thick-coated dog will still get frostbite on their paws, genital region, and ears during the winter season. Still, wintertime can be fun for dogs as long as they are not exposed to harsh climates for extended amounts of time.
Worst Dog Myth #9: Some dog breeds are more aggressive than others
It’s an age-old debate. Nature versus nurture. Some dog breeds have been bred to become guard dogs and hunters for centuries. Being aggressive is stamped in their DNA. On the flipside, any dog who endures abuse or neglect can show the same behavior. Aggression also comes out during life-threatening situations and if your dog is anxious. It’s important to know your dog and how to handle them. Seek the help of a trainer or an animal behavior expert if your circumstances call for it.
Worst Dog Myth #10: I don’t need to spay or neuter my dog
Some studies have shown that adult dogs that did not go under the procedure develop health problems over time.
Overpopulation in dogs has also become an issue. You should do it. It’s the responsible thing to do. Ask your vet for advice if you have reservations.
Hungry for more? If you missed the first part of our worst dog myths series, click here.