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Mythbusters: 5 Common Dog Myths Debunked

Mythbusters: Unpacking common misconceptions about our furry companions

Can you really teach an old dog new tricks? We’ve all heard some classic stereotypes about our furry four-legged friends and whilst most of them are harmless, there are some common myths that should be debunked.

To help everyone know the difference between fact and fiction, PETstock experts have compiled an owner’s guide of things you should learn, or perhaps unlearn, about your pets.

MYTH 1: Dogs eat grass because they feel sick and need to induce vomiting

Seeing your pet eat grass might seem alarming at first, but it can actually be beneficial.

“Sometimes dogs eat grass to pass stool,” says PETstock Vet, Dr Tara Morris. “Grass is filled with dietary fibre, and a lack of it means that your dog might not be able to relieve itself properly. Eating grass can help them do just that.”

So whilst eating grass means no bad news, like all things, eating in large amounts is not recommended, as well as consuming grass treated with pesticides and chemicals.

“If you do find your dog throwing up after eating grass, they may have some other underlying medical problems, like gastric reflux. In these situations, make sure to visit your local vet so that they can diagnose the issue and administer appropriate treatment.”

MYTH 2: Dogs age seven years for every human year

This calculation in converting animal years to human years has been used for decades to convey how much faster dogs age comparatively to a human.

“Our buddies do age quicker than us each year because their lifespans are shorter, but we know now that it's not simply by multiplying their age by seven,” says Dr Tara.

Rather, the more accurate conversion is that 15 human years roughly equal their first year of life, their second year equates to approximately nine human years, whilst each year after that is equated to approximately five human years.

However, since different species have different average lifespans, it shouldn’t be used as a be all or end all calculation.

“We can use these numbers to roughly estimate our pets' real age and take better care of them as they get to their ‘older years’, but it should really be used as more of a guide. You should try to have yearly check-ups regardless of their ‘human’ age.”

MYTH 3: Dogs who have dry noses are sick

Dogs tend to have naturally wet noses, however having a dry nose does not necessarily mean any cause for alarm.

“There are many reasons why dogs have dry noses which aren’t related to overall health,” says Dr Tara. “For example, dogs can have dry noses because they’ve been outside.”

A dry nose is generally not a sign of concern.
But if you see other physical changes alongside a dry nose, like lethargy, loss of appetite or general restlessness, then it’s best to address these concerns with your local vet.

MYTH 4: Dogs only see black and white

“Actually, dogs have the receptor cells to see colours on the blue and yellow spectrum, meaning that they see most things in muted variations of blue and yellow,” says Dr Tara.

Though they can’t see colours like humans, there is one thing that they do beat humans at.

“Canines have more of the cells to detect light than we do, so whilst they can’t see a rainbow, they’re able to see in the dark much better than us.”

MYTH 5: Cats won’t socialise with any other animals, especially dogs.

It's a common misconception that cats and dogs can’t get along at home. When socialized appropriately, they can actually become the best of friends.

“Cats are often seen as independent animals, and dogs usually make for more social house pets, so it’s easy to see how their personalities might clash,” says PETstock Ambassador and Dog Behaviourist, Lara Shannon.

When introducing the two species, there are some tips to assist their first few interactions.

“Introduce them in baby steps,” says Lara. “First let them settle in separate rooms to take in new stimuli and let them know of each other’s presence.”

On their first face-to-face meet up, let them gently approach each other, whilst controlling your dog with a lead as needed, and rewarding calm behaviour. Never force interactions between any animals.
Arya loves sharing any bed with
Malinois Porthos or Aramis

After several days of increased interactions and rewards, you’ll sense both animals trusting each other’s presence. But like all training, it won’t happen overnight.

“This whole process can take up to weeks, or months even. So be patient, don’t rush it and let the full process run its course. 

Plus, be mindful that some dogs with certain instinctual needs and traits may never be suitable to leave alone with a cat,” Lara says.

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