10 Common Dog Health Myths

Happy family with their healthy dog

Keeping a dog healthy throughout his lifetime is one of the most urgent jobs a dog owner faces. Dog health myths sometimes mislead even the most experienced dog owners. What are 10 of the most common dog health myths to avoid?

1. Dog wounds heal best with dog saliva. There are long-standing myths that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's - and that he should lick his wounds to promote healing. In reality, allowing a dog to lick even a minor cut or wound can lead to a serious infection.

2. Table scraps are the healthiest diet for dogs. The belief that dogs stay healthiest on a diet of human meal leftovers is quite dangerous for dogs. Dogs require a regular balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat in order for proper health and weight maintenance. Random table scraps rarely offer such a consistent balance and may also contain toxic ingredients for dogs.

3. A dog's nose indicates illness. While a dog's warm, dry nose may be cause for concern, as many dog owners believe, it may just be a sign that his house is too warm and dry. It is essential to watch for other signs of illness - such as loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea. Illness may occur even with a cold, wet nose.

4. Indoor dogs do not require veterinarian visits. While outdoor dogs certainly face more risks of injury and illness due to the nature of their environments, indoor dogs encounter many of the same risks. Without vaccines, even an indoor dog may contract life threatening illnesses such as distemper or upper-respiratory infections. Visiting the veterinarian also aids in early detection and prevention of other long term health conditions.

5. Animal bones are vital to a dog's nutrition. Tossing a dog a leftover steak bone does excite him, but it actually offers him far more risks than health benefits. Bones tend to splinter and break apart in a dog's strong jaws and offer little value to a balanced diet. Realistically, bone fragments may lodge in a dog's throat, or create a life threatening tear in his digestive system.

6. Sick dogs eat grass. While dog owners often see dogs vomit shortly after eating grass, the jury is still out on any actual connection between the two events. As with a warm, dry nose, grass eating signals a health concern when accompanied by other symptoms; it may be only an act of curiosity or boredom.

7. A dog that eats animal stools lacks proper nutrition. In addition to eating grass, some dogs eat other odd things. One of the most distasteful is stools from other animals - or himself. Contrary to popular belief, a dog that eats feces may have a perfectly nutritious diet. He may just be bored or curious.

8. Garlic prevents fleas, ticks and parasites in dogs. Garlic truly offers little measurable protection against fleas, ticks or intestinal parasites. Instead, the chemicals in garlic cause diarrhea, vomiting, and an increased heart rate, irritation to mouth and gums, or even anemia in dogs.

9. Adding meat drippings or cooking oil to a dog's food adds shine to his coat. Instead of following this old wives' tale, a healthy diet and proper grooming are better paths to glossy, fur coats. Too much fat in a dog's diet can instead create unwanted gastrointestinal issues or life threatening conditions such as pancreatitis.

10. Dogs brush their teeth naturally. There is an unhealthy misconception that a dog's diet naturally cleans his teeth. While dental chews and a healthy diet help dogs maintain healthy teeth and gums, regular, manual brushing and veterinarian cleanings are still necessary.

Content by Angela Thompson .