There are so many prevalent myths about properly caring for your dog (or cat), that it can be hard to differentiate between fact and fiction. Wet noses, poisonous foods, grass-eating, the list goes on. Whether it’s information gleaned from the dark recesses of the internet or delivered straight from a veterinarian, there are countless pet myths circulating among pet owners.
Below we dive deep into some of the more common pet care myths. We also go into detail regarding why these myths are wrong and also provide some basic pet care tips for common problems (associated with these myths).
Brushing Isn’t Necessary for Dogs/Cats
You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t realize how important dental care is (for pets). Most veterinarians are coming around to the fact that animals need their teeth taken care of (especially if they’re subsisting on nutrition mainly sourced from conventional pet food suppliers).
Conversely, pets that eat a more natural diet (consisting of whole foods, or even raw foods) don’t need as much dental care work as normal pets. With that being said, making sure that your pet’s mouth receives proper attention is incredibly important for extending its lifespan. Numerous diseases (both chronic and otherwise) are linked to poor dental care.
One important caveat that needs to be made here, is that you cannot use human toothpaste on your pet! Toothpaste developed for humans contains a host of harmful ingredients that can have a negative impact on your pet’s oral (and overall) health. Specifically, xylitol is one ingredient to be on the lookout for. If a toothpaste has it in its list of ingredients, it should not be used on your pet’s teeth.
Pets Don’t Need That Much Exercise
Unfortunately, pets in the US (and Europe) are becoming obese. The blame can be placed directly on the owners in this case. People are woefully ignorant of the fact that pets require just as much (if not more) exercise as humans. If pets don’t receive their ideal level of exercise, their health will start to decline (quite quickly). Oftentimes, people think taking their pet dog for a short walk constitutes exercise (and they’re completely wrong). Dogs (more so than cats) need at least 20 minutes of sustained exercise (every single day). If you aren’t able to provide your pet dog with this amount of exercise, their health is going to suffer.
The best way to elongate your pet dog’s lifespan is by feeding them a healthy, nutritious diet and also making sure they receive an optimal amount of exercise (every day). This is especially important if you own a certain breed of dog that requires more exercise than normal (e.g. most working dog breeds). These dogs require more exercise than other breeds, and if you can’t deliver that to them you should look into hiring a dog walker, or placing them in a dog daycare center that provides exercise services.
Parasites Need to be Constantly Guarded Against
While it’s true that one of the best ways to protect your dog from pests (i.e. ticks) is by using a flea prevention treatment, there has been research showing that certain types of ticks are actually becoming resistant to these medicines. This is especially true if you opt for a cheaper medicine (such as one produced under a generic brand name). However, it’s generally recommended to use heartworm and flea preventative like Sentinel for dogs.
If you ask any traditional veterinarian about how to best protect your pup or cat from ticks, they’ll probably respond with something about pesticides. Traditional veterinary medicine advocates for heavy-handed doses of chemical pesticides to fight against tick-borne illnesses.
Why is this bad for your pet? First off, it’s been scientifically proven that ticks have become resistant to pesticide-based treatments. Using a year-round tick prevention medicine is also quite costly (and can quickly add up). With all of this being said, if you live in an area that’s particularly prone to tick infestations, you absolutely should be using this type of treatment on your pet (throughout the entire year).
While you shouldn’t place any blame on yourself for falling victim to some of these common myths, what’s more important is that you start properly caring for your pet. Remember that there is a lot of misinformation out there about pet care, and that you should always perform some quality research before making any major changes to your pet’s health routine.