Cat and Dog 'Tales' Debunked

Having a pet means wading through a lot of information about what is right or wrong for your animal. Through the years some misinformation has surfaced that many have taken as truth. To clear up some tall tales about household pets and their environs, check out these myths debunked.

Myth: People food should be off limits.

Truth: In moderation, some people food is okay for pets. Avoid fatty, spicy or sweet snacks. However, fresh vegetables, meats with visible fats cut off and even a slice of fruit here and there is perfectly acceptable to supplement your pet's commercial food diet. But don't feed your pet from the table, or he or she may beg at every meal.

Myth: Cats are bad for babies.

Truth: Cats like to sleep snuggled up to warm things, which may have started the association of cats smothering children because of their propensity to cuddle in bassinets or baby blankets. Cats do not purposely set out to smother an infant, but they don't know the difference between what is a safe sleeping position and a poor one. Keep cats out of a sleeping baby's room and gradually introduce the pet to the child so they can learn to cohabitate peacefully.

Myth: A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

Fact: Oral bacteria are so species-specific that it's difficult to say which mouth would be "cleaner." However, dogs do lick all sorts of things, including eating their own excrement on some occasions, therefore always use caution around a pet's mouth -- or a human's for that matter.

Myth: Bad dog breath is normal.

Fact: Bad breath in a dog, cat or human is a sign of illness or periodontal disease. Proper oral hygiene is necessary to keep breath smelling fresh.

Myth: Cats and dogs eat grass when they're sick.

Fact: Cats and dogs just like the taste of grass. Eating it in abundance may force other food through the digestional tract, which is why Fido or Fifi may vomit or defecate after his meal of grass blades.

Myth: A dog wagging his tail is friendly.

Fact: Sometimes a wagging tail is not attached to a happy dog. You need to read the dog's entire body language to determine if he is happy or scared.

Myth: A hot, dry nose means a dog is feverish.

Fact: A rectal temperature of 102 F is the only accurate way to determine a fever.

Myth: A fearful dog is one who was abused early in life.

Fact: Genetics and poor socialization are often to blame for dogs who are fearful of people.

Myth: Cats always land on their feet.

Fact: Although they do have keen balance and a great acrobatic sense, cats can be injured falling from high elevations.

Myth: Cats should drink cow's milk.

Fact: Drinking too much cow's milk can result in intestinal discomfort. Stick to a bowl of water.

Myth: A year in a dog's life is equal to 7 human years.

Fact: Time passes in the same speed for humans as it does for dogs. Dogs do not live as long as humans, so they reach maturity faster, which is why the myth came to be. It's an easier method for approximating the maturity of a dog.

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