Exploring Some Common Myths About Dogs

Have you ever heard that a dog’s mouth has fewer germs than a human’s? Think about that for a moment. Most dogs are willing to lick their own and other dogs’ “nether regions,” and eat kitty poo from the litter box or anything they find in the trash.

Let’s take a look at some common myths about dogs.

Does a warm dry nose mean your pet has a fever? The temperature and moistness of your dog’s nose has nothing to do with his health. The only way to know if he has a fever is to take his temperature (usually with a rectal thermometer). It should be 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

A better indication of whether your dog is sick is if he’s not as hungry or active as usual. Other signs of illness include, but are not limited to, urinating more or less often than normal; drainage from his or her eyes, ears and/or nose; coughing; sneezing; vomiting and diarrhea.

Many people believe that a raw diet is the best for their pet. This may sound good in theory. But the reality is it’s an unbalanced diet that may be dangerous. A raw-meat diet can leave dogs short on calcium and other nutrients. Raw meat is also risky because it can carry harmful bacteria, disease and parasites. If you are feeding your pet a raw diet, take all necessary precautions to make sure that it is safe.

Some people believe that dogs can’t digest grains. But dogs’ digestive systems are quite robust. Corn, rice and beets aren’t just filler. They enhance a dog’s diet with essential nutrients and protein when pre-cooked, which is typically the case with commercially prepared dog foods.

Dogs are omnivores and grains are a healthy part of their diet. However, there are those pets that have a low tolerance for grains, and great care should be taken to ensure that they receive a complete healthy diet. It is always best to speak with your veterinarian or pet nutritionist about your dog’s diet.

Another myth is that you should feed your dog according to label instructions on dog food. The label is just a starting point. An extremely active dog or one with a high metabolism may require more than the label indicates. A less active dog would need less food to avoid becoming overweight. Again, asking your vet what’s right for your dog is always the best place to start. If your dog is at a healthy body weight, you should be able to feel his ribs easily beneath the skin.

Taylor is always happy to see me when I walk in the door. But how do I know the difference between excitement that I am home and him overflowing with bottled up energy. It’s very easy to come home to a dog that is jumping, running around, or spinning in circles, and interpret that as the dog being glad you’re home. But that’s not what’s really happening, says Cesar Millan, dog behaviorist and star of the TV series “Dog Whisperer.” It’s a sign that your dog has more energy than he can handle in that moment.

Millan’s advice is to ignore a dog when he’s overexcited, then reward him with attention when he calms down.

If you have concerns about your pet’s behavior it is always great to consult an experienced pet trainer. They can help you and your pet tackle some of the most trying issues.

And one of the most common myths is that dog parks are totally safe and healthy. Dog parks can be great fun, but there can be some risks. Parasites like fleas, ticks and worms, and viruses like parvo and protozoa, can lurk in contaminated water and dog stool. If your dog gets in a fight, that can also mean wounds and injuries. But most problems can be avoided by using common sense and paying attention to what’s going on around you.