30 Dog Myths in 30 Minutes
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There are a lot of dog myths out there, and we’re going to pack as many into one brief show as possible. Do dog vaccines cause dog autism? Can dogs eat chocolate? Do dogs feel bad when they poop in our shoes? Maria Walters talks to Dr. Jacquelyn Arns and behaviorist Mailey McLaughlin to get the lowdown.
Special thanks to Ted Willmore, who created the song in this episode: Charlie the Autistic Spaniel.
Daily Mail: Vaccines ‘are making our dogs sick as vets cash in’
Here are a few written notes from the experts on some of the questions in the show:
Dr. Jacquelyn Arns
Small Animal Veterinarian
Creskill Animal Hospital, New Jersey
@drsteggy on Twitter
*Females should have a litter of pups before you spay*
Oh hell no. I recommend spaying before they hit puberty to avoid certain types of cancers. Having a random litter of puppies just gives the shelter more reasons to buy euthanasia solution.
*You can tell whether a dog is a purebred by the way it sits…*
I’ve never heard this one….though I’d say about the only thing a dog tells me by the way he sits is if he’s having knee pain.
*…or by whether it has a spotted tongue or not*
The big variant on that I’ve heard is that if it has a spotted tongue its part Chow Chow (a breed with a whole lot of melanin that have
blue/black tongues). After looking at a ton of dog mouths, my conclusion is that some dogs just have pigmented spots. Even in their
*Purebred dogs are healthier than mutts*
I usually hear the opposite, and I suppose that depends on what you actually mean by “healthy” Purebred dogs certainly have their share of hereditary issues—that comes with a closed breeding population with a lot of homozygosity going on. However mixed breeds are not immune to behavior issues, or skin disease, or anything else—in fact, when you do things like breed labradors to poodles, you can get a dog with hip dysplasia AND allergic skin disease.
*A dogs nose can show if she’s sick*
Nope, old wive’s tale, though a REALLY febrile dog will have a hot, dry nose…but also a lot of other signs suggesting he’s ill before
you need to worry about the nose.
*Dogs have cleaner mouths than humans*
That depends on how you’re defining that—humans have FAR BETTER oral hygeine that dogs (oh, I wish I could pass along a visual) and dogs are likely to put really disgusting things in their mouths, but dogs, by being dogs, also have fewer bacteria in their mouths that are potentially pathologic to humans, so its not like you’re going to get mono from your dog. I personally do not kiss dogs on the lips, because I know where those lips have been, but I have been ambushed French kissed by more than one hound.
*Mutts are healthier*
See above. Everything I’ve seen in pure breds I see in mutts, but I probably see a lower percentage off mutts as purebred dogs in general are more popular these days. And those mutts carry whatever questionable DNA their parents did.
*Dogs eat grass to throw up because they’re sick*
No one really knows WHY dogs eat grass—do they feel sick and eat it, or do they eat it to vomit? No one has that answer.
*Dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate or grapes*
They shouldn’t though the chocolate is more of a Sure Thing—it does depend on the chocolate, and the amount. The grape thing is harder as some dogs do go into kidney failure from eating grapes/raisins, but not all do, and the offending toxin in the fruit is still
They also shouldn’t eat sugar free anything that has xylitol in it. That stuff does really horrible things to dogs.
*Dogs are colorblind*
Dogs have cone cells in their retinas, so the can see in color, but its unlikely they see colors the same way we do—we’re a very visual species, they are less so.
*Dogs should have bones*
Wow, that is a can of worms. I’m in the no raw food camp. Salmonella does horrible things to dogs too, and small bones cna splinter and produce really fun surgical lesions. Larger ones can break teeth, and extracting a fractured canine tooth is No Fun for Anyone!
*Do dogs have as big of a carbon footprint as owning an SUV?*
As far as the carbon footprint deal—I’d think this would depend on the dog and the SUV (chihuahua vs Great Dane vs Rav4 vs H3?)—you could subject a dog to a 100 mile diet, but that would require an owner who is really dedicated as balancing a diet like that would be tricky, but it could be done. I’d think that having your dog spayed/neutered and otherwise keeping it healthy (not allowing it to become obese) would probably lead to a greener canine.
*Dogs can’t look up*
You gotta stop listening to that pubkeeper!
Training & Behavior Consultant
*You can’t teach an old dog new tricks*
Oh, an oldie but a goodie. Dogs are always learning, so you can teach dogs until the day they die. Just like people. :-) The older they are, the more ingrained their habits are, so it’s harder to change behaviors as they age. But they can definitely learn new stuff.
*An aggressive dog is a good watch dog*
An aggressive dog is an unstable dog. An unstable dog may bark at, and even bite, an intruder, but he will also not know how to distinguish a “real” intruder from a family friend, neighborhood child, or even a family member coming home late at night. Dogs do not instinctively “know” that some people are “good” and others are “bad.” Good watchdogs are loyal to their “pack” and well-trained in basic obedience commands. They develop watchful behaviors as their bond with the family deepens, and they have a motivation to protect their family. Any dog can develop watchful behaviors, but if they don’t have good leadership and respect for the pack, they are unlikely to “protect” anything but their own skins.
*You should keep your head higher than your dogs*
This is not completely untrue. Height confers status. Dogs that are trained and respect your leadership will not get “impure thoughts” about “taking over” if they are allowed on furniture or able to be taller than the humans. But untrained and uned dogs can, and do sometimes. They can get pushy about owning furniture, and may resort to growling or biting if they are allowed off the floor. A dog who growls at its owners when on the couch or bed needs to be kept from these places and trained to respect the humans’ space.
*Only male dogs hump, because they’re trying to have sex*
Both males and females hump, and it doesn’t matter if they are altered or not. Most humping in dogs past puberty is about social leverage or dominance, not sex. It should not be allowed to continue when done to other dogs, some of whom will correct it themselves. It should never be allowed to be done to humans. When done to people, it is a very dominant act and the dog needs some training quick.
*Are there breeds that are naturally more aggressive than others*
Yes. Several breeds are bred to be more aggressive, some to dogs and others to people. Guarding breeds are naturally wary of strangers and do not require much of a threat to take it upon themselves to do their jobs. Individual dogs within these breeds will have temperaments ranging from highly social to highly unsocial, of course.
*A wagging tail is a sign of happiness*
Definitely not. The position of the tail, how it is moving, and other body language of the dog must be examined for one to know what the dog is saying. A wagging tail is like a smile: it can have many meanings, and not all are good.