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Dogs keep us happy and it's our to keep them healthy, but common misconceptions about what dogs need to stay well can get in the way. Here are ten of the most commonly repeated myths about canine health, and what you need to know to help your dog stay in good fit.
1. Adding onions or garlic to your dog's food can prevent ticks and fleas.
If your pet poses a problem with doggy breath, putting minced garlic, chopped garlic, or garlic oil in with dog chow is hardly going to help. And the addition of garlic to dog food doesn't deter ticks, fleas, or parasites, either.
The essential oils of onion and garlic actually can keep tick eggs from hatching, but they would have to applied on your dog, not "in" your dog, and most of the ticks dogs encounter are already hatched. Similarly, minced onion in olive oil may soothe flea bites on a dog's ear, but there is no similar value in adding onion to dog chow. The real problem with these remedies, however, is that they can put stress on a dog's heart, which can be especially problematic in older dogs that have heart worms (which aren't treated with onions or garlic, either).
2. Dogs naturally "brush" their teeth.
If your puppy's pearly whites are beginning to turn yellow, or if your older dog shows signs of bleeding gums or has really bad breath, the right remedy is to brush your dog's teeth once or twice a week. Your dog may want to play fetch with the toothbrush, but making a habit of adding toothpaste to the brush first gives your dog the signal that this "stick" is not for play. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which sometimes causes irritation to the gums or tongue if you can, or encourage your dog to take a drink of water immediately after you brush the teeth.
3. A dog with a dry nose is sick.
A dry nose is not necessarily a sign of a sick pet. If you live in a particularly dry climate, or if the air in your house is especially dry, a dry nose may just be a sign of low humidity in your home.
4. Microchips cause cancer.
Millions of dogs have been implanted with microchips for easy identification if they are found away from home, but only a few dozen cases of tumors in microchipped pets have made the literature of veterinary medicine. The truth is, science does not know to a certainty whether or not there are health risks to chipping, but there is no clear evidence that there are.
5. Dogs need to be bathed every week, or even every day.
Some dogs enjoy getting a bath every day, and bathing your dog drowns their fleas (that can then hop off your dog and onto you). Giving your dog a bath every day, however, dries out their skin, and can lead to itching, biting, and mange-like skin irritation. Whenever possible, "dry clean" your dog, combing the coat and brushing flea eggs away (don't brush you dog over a carpet) before they can hatch.