This is not a Photoshopped picture. Howard, the St. Bernard, and Claire, the poodle, really did get along, contrary to some belief that big and little dogs can't get along.

This is not a Photoshopped picture. Howard, the St. Bernard, and Claire, the poodle, really did get along, contrary to some belief that big and little dogs can’t get along.

If it sounds reasonable, then it must be true, right? WRONG, especially when dealing with pets. There are thousands of myths out there and, while they may sound plausible, are just plain misleading and can even be harmful to our animals and cause pet owners a lot of needless worry and expense.

Let’s look at a few from

1. Cats need milk.

While we can easily conjure up a cute image of a cat lapping a bowl of milk, resist the temptation to offer this in real life. Cats and dogs don’t have the ability to appropriately break down the lactose in dairy, and consuming it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and other issues.

To make sure your cat is hydrated properly, invest in a cat water fountain; the animals are naturally drawn to moving water. (That’s why they’re often found lapping up water beneath a leaky faucet.)

2. A warm nose means your dog is sick.

Spike and McLovin

Spike and McLovin

If you want to figure out if your dog’s ill, look for signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and other signs of distress. If a dog’s nose is cool, he or she may have just had a drink of water. If the nose is warm, the dog may have been out in the sun. To check for fever, feel the dog’s head with your hand—although, remember, normal canine temperature is 101 to 101.5°F, so a dog will feel slightly warm to a human even when there is no fever present.

3. My pet stays indoors, so it doesn’t need to go to the vet.

Certain vaccines can literally save your pet’s life, even if the dog or cat lives inside. For instance, dogs and cats can pick up communicable diseases like distemper, leptospirosis, and upper-respiratory infections — things that can be passed when they become airborne or even dragged into the house on shoes.

4. Dogs eat grass when they are sick.

Dogs descended from wild wolves and foxes that ate all parts of their “kill.” This included the stomach contents of many animals that ate berries and grass. Many scientists believe grass was once part of their normal diet and eating small amounts is normal.

5. Mutts are always healthier than purebred dogs.

This may sound logical, but it’s not true. Both mutts and purebred dogs can be unhealthy. Both can have diseases, however, mutts generally do not have many of the genetic diseases found commonly in purebred lines.

6. Dogs will let you know when they are sick.

If only this were true. Dogs generally are very good at hiding that they are sick by survival instinct, thus not to appear vulnerable to “prey.” Often by the time they show you they are sick, their disease or condition is quite advanced. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian and knowing your dog is your best defense in keeping him healthy.

7. Happy dogs wag their tails.

This may be true but aggressive dogs often wag their tails, too. There are several physical body motions and cues that help dogs communicate their intent. A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position, is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, or twitching, or wagging while held over the animal’s back may be associated with aggression.

8. Garlic prevents fleas.

Garlic has not been proven to be helpful for flea control. Large amounts of garlic can even be harmful. Don’t feed your pet garlic.

9. Only male dogs will “hump” or lift their leg to urinate.

This is not true. Female dogs, especially dominant female dogs, will lift their legs to urinate and “hump” other dogs or objects. This can be true even if they are spayed.

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