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Some Myths about Cats and Dogs

There are been many myths about cats and dogs over time, but which ones are true?

Some Common Misconceptions About Our Furry Friends

It’s time to explore some myths about cats and dogs. They’ve been around forever and there are some that make sense, but others are quite dubious in nature. Cats and dogs see in black and white, a cold nose is a sign that they’re heathy, they wag their tails when they’re happy, they always plan to kill us when we’re sleeping, cats know how to drive…and so on and so on. But how many of these are true?

Since cats and dogs haven’t mastered the power of speech…yet…we often tend to think of them as we do ourselves. They have emotions, they understand loss and can grieve, they can get depressed, but we as humans still have a hard time understanding what they want. How many times have you asked cats or dogs a question and not gotten the answer you wanted?

These myths about cats and dogs have been circulating for ages, so here are some that are true, some that are false, and some that are flat out ridiculous.

Some Myths About Dogs

All Dogs are Colorblind

We have no idea how a dog actually sees, so it’s hard to tell if this is actually true. What is interesting is that canine retinas have two of the three photo receptors that are needed in order to see color. Apparently dogs are capable to see several colors such as variations of blue, grey and yellow. Humans have a greater range in the color spectrum than dogs.

Dogs Will Eat Grass when they Don’t Feel Well

Dogs will eat grass sometimes if they’re not feeling well. Other times they’ll do it if they’re bored or just because grass is there. They actually don’t mind grass…they actually do enjoy it but if they do eat it it’s best that the grass not be treated with any chemicals.

Dogs with Wagging Tails are Friendly

This isn’t entirely true. A wagging tail can mean that a dog is happy and excited, but it can also represent fear, stress and anxiety and can also lead to aggression where a dog bites someone. It’s easy to misinterpret a dog’s personality, and while we’re inclined to pet a dog, in pet food store for example, it’s always important to ask the owner beforehand if you can pet their dog. The same should go for kids, who are always excited, but, if they’re too aggressive, they can upset a dog which may cause the dog to attack.

One Dog Year is the Same as Seven Human Years

We’ve been told this for years, but it’s not true at all. Apparently, one year of a dog’s life is about 12 to 14 years in human terms. The ratio of 7 to 1 is based on old statistics that a human lived an average lifespan of 70 years, while a dog lived ten years. Much of this relates to a dog’s breed, size as well as it’s genetic history. Smaller dogs are likely to live up to 18 years, while larger ones often live for 10 years.

A Dog with a Cold, Wet Nose is a Healthy Dog

Different situations can cause temperature changes in a dog’s nose. Much of it has to do with everyday activity and what type of environment the dog is in. Issues with appetite and daily routines can give you an idea as to how a dog is feeling.

A Dog’s Mouth is Always Clean

Many believe this myth for those who’ve noticed how quickly a wound heals once a dog licks it. It has nothing to do with a dog having a clean mouth. Actually it has more to do with a dog’s tongue being able to remove debris from a wound which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, causing a wound to heal faster than normal. Of course, dogs are often rebellious and sometimes eat straight out of the litter box. And of course there is the risk of periodontal disease, as dogs don’t brush their teeth.

You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Young or old, a dog can always learn something new…it just depends on if they’re interested. Older dogs may like to run around and be engaged, but they’re sometimes past their prime when coming to learning a new behavior or trick. Keep in mind that older dogs may have mobility issues as well as vision problems, but if they’re interested, they may just surprise you.

Female Dogs Must Have a Litter Before Being Spayed

Another myth. Spaying a female dog prior to her first heat cycle will actually reduce any chances of mammary cancer as they age. While some may claim that it’s important for a dog to experience having a litter, they don’t actually experience any type of loss if they don’t have puppies. A female dog in heat can attract a male from as far as two miles, and as there is a pet overpopulation problem, you may not want your girl to contribute to it. This applies to both female cats and dogs.

A Few Myths About Cats

Cats Always Land on Their Feet

This is not entirely true. Cats are extremely limber, but if they should jump and not land properly, they can get hurt. An improper landing can cause sprains, fractures, and in some cases respiratory problems. They are at greater risk of getting hurt from jumping for a lower height that a larger one. Cats aren’t able to maneuver their bodies that quickly to ensure a safe landing, so a lesser height can give them less time to negotiate and place themselves in a proper landing position.

You Can’t Train Your Cat

Cats always seem to have the run of the place. They never listen. They make the rules. You can’t argue with them. However, it does appear that cats can in fact be trained. You can teach your cats to come to you when you call them, and you can teach them how to sit on command. Most important is that they understand where the litter box is and how to use it. Of course, your cats will interrupt your life whenever they want food, which is normal, but if you have issues with training your cats, ask your Austin Vet, as they may have some ideas on how to handle them, especially from an early age.

Indoor Cats are Safe from Disease

An indoor cat doesn’t mean that they can can be free from disease. All cats can get sick, especially indoor ones. They can catch something from an airborne germ that you bring in from outside. It’s also important to keep your house clean and free from insects, especially those pesky water bugs. A cat will see an insect as a toy, and should they ingest one, they could very likely get sick.

Cats May Love Too Much

This is true. Cats are extremely affectionate and they crave love. They love us so much that they can actually experience separation anxiety if we go away for a period of time. Cats carve not only affection, but attention. A cat may cry in the other room for hours on end, only to curl up next to you when you see what’s wrong. If your cat seems to be too clingy, then it may be signs of a behavioral issue and they may need anti-anxiety medication.

Cats Don’t Need Exercise

Cats actually do need exercise…they need to play, run and jump as much as a dog does. Sure, they sleep most of the day, but they need to remain active for their health. They also need mental stimulation and exercise greatly helps with that. If your cat is an indoor cat, have plenty of toys on had to keep them occupied, but you should also make yourself available to keep them happy and active.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Cats

There’s really no issue with pregnant women interacting with cats, however, they should stay clear of the litter box. Here’s where it can get dangerous, as coming into contact with toxoplasmosis (a parasite found in feces and in litter) can be passed on to the mother and cause issues such as miscarriage and stillbirth. If you’re pregnant, it’s okay for you to pet your cats, but have someone else take care of cleaning the litter box.

Do Cats Lose their Sense of Balance if they Don’t Have Whiskers?

Another myth. Whiskers are used as feelers to help understand their environment, avoid potential threats and help them navigate through odd shaped spaces, among other things. Cats have special sensory receptors called proprioceptors, which are found at the ends of their whiskers. These receptors send messages to the cat’s brain about the position of the body and limbs; they help to keep the cat focused on their body at all times. Whiskers are very sensitive and are connected to a cat’s nervous system, so they should never be touched or trimmed, as they’re deeply embedded in the skin.

Cats Will Steal A Baby’s Breath

This is the weirdest one, which dates back a few hundred years. This is more related to superstition than anything else. However, some parents with infants and young children may take it to heart. Of course it’s not true, cats love to lie next to you and snuggle, but it might be awkward at first if you have a very young child, as they may not be adjusted to a cat from the start. Over time, they will adjust to one another and have a friend for life.

So, there are many myths and falsehoods out there regarding our cats and dogs. Some of them are just silly, but harmless, but, some can clearly be harmful, causing your pet to get sick and have serious health issues.

If you’re not sure about any of these myths, talk to us. We’ll help clear up any issues you might have so that your pet is properly taken care of.