6 Pet Health Myths You May Have Fallen For

Dog Waiting for Treat
Have you heard that the only way to reward a dog is with food? Unfortunately, this is a very common misconception among pet owners.

Like that old game of telephone, misinformation has a way of getting around — and around again. Pet care isn’t immune to the game. To help clear things up, here’s a list of some of the most popular misconceptions about pet health and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Parasite Prevention Isn't Necessary Year-round

In truth, many vets want pet owners to think of parasite prevention as preventive medicine. Some parasites, like roundworms, can infect pets at any time of the year, so only continuous prevention is effective against them. To help keep pets safe from fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites, you’ll need to administer broad-spectrum parasite prevention medication; many of these products are administered or applied once every month. Your veterinarian will help you choose the products that will be most helpful to your pets.

Myth 2: Neutering Makes Dogs Soft

Neutering male dogs can quiet certain unpleasant tendencies (such as mounting behavior and urine marking) when done at a young age. At the same time, it won’t diminish skills that are characteristic of a breed — like hunting. What’s more, neutering also can help protect against testicular cancer and an enlarged prostate.

Myth 3: Urine Marking Is Just a Cat's Way of Staking His Territory

Though cats sometimes use urine to mark their claim, frequent urination outside the litterbox can signal a serious health problem, like a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or even diabetes or renal failure. Sometimes inappropriate urination can signal that your cat is suffering from anxiety. If your cat goes outside his litterbox once or twice, it's worth a call to the vet to see if you should be concerned. But if he’s having frequent “accidents,” making numerous trips to the litterbox, howling or meowing while urinating, seems unable to urinate or has any blood in the urine, take him to your veterinarian right away.

Myth 4: It's OK to Skip Brushing Pets' Teeth

Failure to brush regularly can lead to serious gum disease and significantly decrease your pet’s overall quality of life. When started at a young age, many pets enjoy teeth brushing! Even many older cats and dogs can learn to love it when you introduce it slowly and make it fun. Visit your veterinarian for toothbrushing pointers and advice — such as avoiding using toothpaste for people, because the fluoride can cause health problems in dogs and cats.

Myth 5: Itchy Ears Must Mean Ear Mites

When your canine's ears start to itch, don't immediately assume it's ear mites and don't attempt to treat the itch without seeking out your veterinarian’s advice. The itching could be due to a yeast or bacterial infection that requires appropriate medication to treat. Those infections typically occur as a result of food or inhalant allergy or another underlying medical issue. Plus, if your dog’s ear issues are allergy related, a one-time treatment might not do the trick. Your veterinarian will explain how to soothe your dog’s itchy ears.

Myth 6: The Only Way to Show Pets Love Is Through Food

Pets’ longing looks at your food or their empty food bowls do tug at the heartstrings. But feeding pets too much isn’t affectionate; it’s a health risk. Obesity can lead to other medical problems including skin issues, orthopedic complications, arthritis and heart and liver troubles. Don't get hung up on the portion recommendations on a bag of pet food — those recommendations are general and might not illustrate the amount your pet needs to eat. Speak to your veterinarian about the portion size that’s best for your pet. And remember that when you want to show your pets a little love, active playtime is one of the best ways to do it!

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