Michele C. Hollow (@michelechollow)
(November 23, 2015)
You love your cat or dog more than you love some people. But are you showing him the love, or are you falling for a myth that could make you a bad pet parent?
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True or false: A dry nose means your dog is ill.
“A dog’s nose is not a great way to tell if he is healthy or sick because your dog’s nose changes from dry to wet and back several times a day,” says Marc L. Levine, DVM, at South Orange Animal Hospital in New Jersey. “Dry noses can be caused by poor air circulation or even by your dog sitting in the sun.”
True or false: Indoor cats need to go to the vet once a year.
Annual wellness visits allow your vet to stay up-to-date on your cat’s overall health, according to the ASPCA. If something is amiss, it’s easier to catch and fix it early. Plus, annual vaccinations prevent future ailments that can be costly later on. Besides, your cat isn’t immune to pests or disease just because she doesn’t go outside, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council. Pests can come into your home and infect her.
True or false: Persistent bad breath may signal a health or dental problem.
Yes, food makes your pet’s breath stink. But call your vet if the bad breath lingers or gets worse, especially if it’s accompanied by vomiting or a loss of appetite, advises the Austin Humane Society. Bad breath also can indicate poor gum conditions, such as gingivitis. Get tips for brushing your dog’s teeth here.
True or false: You can give some over-the-counter people medicines to cats and dogs.
A few OTC human drugs, such as Benadryl, can be given to some pets in appropriate doses according to the Humane Society. But before you give your pet any medication, check with your vet. Many human drugs aren’t okay for pets and could be fatal according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. For those meds that are appropriate, getting the right dose is critical.
When it comes to brushing your dog’s teeth you should:
Toothpaste for humans usually contains fluoride, which can irritate your dog’s stomach, the ASPCA says. Use only toothpaste made specifically for dogs — or skip the paste and use water. The ASPCA suggests brushing your dog’s teeth two to three times a week. A toothbrush designed for pets can get to those hard-to-reach spots.
True or false: Steak bones and chicken bones are good for your dog’s teeth.
Bones can break your pet’s teeth. Also, bones can splinter, sending fragments into your pet’s windpipe, stomach, intestines and other organs, the Michigan Humane Society says. They advise giving your dog a rubber chew toy instead.
True or false: Declawing a cat is like trimming his nails.
Declawing involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe, leaving the cat defenseless, the CATalyst Council says. The operation is illegal in some states and cities, according to The Paw Project. And the American Veterinary Medical Association says it’s a major surgery that’s not medically necessary.
True or false: Cats can be vegetarians.
Cats are natural carnivores. They need taurine, an amino acid found in meat, which is essential for normal heart muscle function and vision, according to Jane Brunt, DVM of the CATalyst Council. She says a taurine-free diet can result in blindness and heart problems. Cats need meat in order to live a healthy life, she says.
A dog’s wagging tail means:
Dogs wag their tails when they are happy, agitated, tense, frightened or feeling aggressive, says Sherry Woodard, animal behaviorist with Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. Don’t assume a wagging tail is an invitation to pet. Never approach a dog without asking his owner for permission.
True or false: Spaying improves an animal’s health.
Spaying reduces your pet’s risk of mammary gland tumors and ovarian and uterine cancers, according to North Shore Animal League America. It helps cats and dogs live longer, healthier lives. And of course it helps keep down the population of unwanted animals.
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