Facts vs Fiction is back with Part 2.
We want to help either debunk or uphold some of the popular pet related ideas out there.
1. A Dog can only get Biliary (Tick Bite Fever) once and is then immune.
This is pure Fiction. Unfortunately, the immune system of the dog cannot build up a long-term immunity against Babesia Canis, the organism causing Biliary and dogs are therefore susceptible to reinfection every time they are bitten by a tick carrying the offending parasite. The vaccine against Biliary, that was available in South Africa, also only offered a very short term protection against infection (6 months) and was subsequently rarely used. Vigilant monthly tick control, is the only effective way of preventing Tick Bite Fever in dogs.
2. Dogs that never leave the yard do not require tick and flea control.
This too, is Fiction. Although these pets are less likely to be exposed to ticks and fleas, they are not fully protected. Ticks can come into the property on people, visiting pets and small wild-life. Fleas can be brought into the yard on shoes and clothing in various life stages. Cats from neighbouring properties can also bring external parasites into the yard. Regular application of Tick and Flea control products to our pets and the control of the various life stage in the environment, are the only effective ways of protecting our animal from these parasites.
3. If you have a large yard you do not need to exercise your dogs.
Definitely Fiction! How many dogs do you know that voluntarily run themselves up and down the yard for exercise? Yes, I admit that there are a few exception, but on the whole dogs very rarely exercise themselves. Exercise is also not only good for the body, but helps to stimulate our dogs mentally, allowing them to explore, scent mark, interact with other dogs and just have fun! A big yard is nice, but is never a substitute for a daily walk!
4. Dogs and Cats only require their Puppy and Kitten vaccines and no additional boosters.
More Fiction. Many of the vaccine used in South Africa are aimed at protecting our pets from fatal diseases such as Parvo and Distemper. Most of these vaccines are registered by the manufacturers, to be used annually to ensure effective immunity. If the manufacturers of the vaccines recommend annual use thereof and vets have no safe, easy or cost effective method to determine the immunity of each individual patient they vaccinate, it seems safest to follow the manufacturer guidelines to best protect our pets. Rabies vaccinations are recommended every 3 years, after the two initial loading vaccines. Internationally, dog and cat vaccines are regularly re-tested and some are being re-registered for use every 3 years, but until this happened in South Africa, annual vaccinations are still recommended.
5. Dogs prefer to eat cat stools rather than dog stools.
This is (disgustingly) a Fact! As cats are obligate carnivores and mostly eat diets that are very high in good quality proteins, their stools have a higher protein content than dog stools and are therefore more attractive to dogs! Dogs eat stools for various reasons ranging from stress to boredom. This should generally be discouraged as it promotes the spread of infection and parasites and is really just unpleasant!
6. Turmeric prevents cancer and helps against arthritis in dogs.
The jury is still out on this one. Although extensive evidence exists in vitro (in a petri dish, in the lab) that the most active ingredient of turmeric, Curcumin, does reduce inflammation of cartilage cells and acts as a potent anti-oxidant, almost no trials have been done in vivo (in humans and dogs). Those trials done in humans, suggest that turmeric is poorly absorbed from the gut and fairly large quantities need to be consumed for effective levels of Curcumin to reach the blood stream. As the side effects of turmeric are as unknown as the benefits in dogs and cats, I feel that waiting for more evidenced based information around the use of this spice for medicinal purposes is warranted.
7. Dogs and cats can be allergic to chicken.
This is in fact true. Food allergies in dogs and cats present differently to food allergies in people. People with a shell fish allergy may battle to breathe and have facial swelling or hives immediately after exposure to this allergen. In our pets it can take exposure over a long period of time before the allergy manifests itself, and then it is most often seen in the skin as itching, hair loss and inflammation. To make a diagnosis of a food allergy, the affected animal needs to be fed an “exclusion diet” for a minimum period of 8-10 weeks and this diet has to be very strictly followed to be effective. Various food companies offer exclusion diets containing novel or unusual proteins or diets in which the proteins have been broken down into such tiny pieces that the body cannot react to them. Having said all that, food allergies are only responsible for about 10% of allergies seen in dogs and then chicken is not always the ingredient responsible. Flea bite allergies and atopy (allergies to environmental allergens) are far more common. Discuss the use of these with your veterinarian if you suspect that your animal may suffer from a food allergy.
8. Rubbing your puppy’s nose in his own urine discourages him from urinating in the house.
This is not only disgusting, but also not true. Forcing a puppy’s face into his urine and shouting at him, merely frightens him and will make him far more likely to hide from you while urinating and defecating, like under the bed, in the closet or in the pantry. Taking puppies outside regularly, especially after a sleep, after a meal and just before locking up at night, encourages them to urinate and defecate outside. Praise and reward with a cuddle or even a tiny treat after doing it correctly, goes a long way in encouraging correct elimination behavior.
9. A warm and dry nose suggests that my dog is ill.
This is Fiction. A dry nose is just that, a dry nose. All it takes is one lick and it is a wet nose! There are far better symptoms to look for when checking if our dogs are feeling under the weather. Appetite, energy levels, signs of vomiting or diarrhea, water consumption or lack thereof, coughing, runny noses…… Take note of these and then communicate clearly with your vet to see if your pet needs veterinary care.
10. If a dog eats grass, he is trying to make himself vomit.
This is a myth. Some dogs just like eating grass. It is speculated that an acid in the grass adds a nice zing to the taste and dogs therefore like to eat it. Whatever the reason, it is relatively harmless as long as the grass is not chemically treated. Some dogs do in fact vomit after eating grass, but this is more likely because the grass has irritated the stomach lining and not because the dog planned it that way!
11. Dogs can only see in black and white.
Recent research suggests that dogs can in fact see some colours mainly blue, yellow, green and grey.
If you have any queries about the above mentioned comments or if you have any suggestions of topics you would like us to look into we would love to hear from you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.