Common Misconceptions in Veterinary Medicine

One of the things I like about being a veterinarian is getting to hear some of the misconceptions people have concerning their animals. In this information age it’s amazing the amount of misinformation that is still out there. The internet may be wonderful and revolutionary, but please remember that anyone can post anything they want and just because it’s on the internet DOES NOT MAKE IT TRUE!

One of the oldest wives’ tales that I hear is the one about the dog’s nose. You know, if a dog’s nose is cold and wet then he is healthy. A dog’s nose is exactly like the lining inside your own nose. If it’s cold and humid then the dog’s nose is going to be cold and wet. However, if it is hot and dry then the dog’s nose is going to be hot and dry. It has nothing to do with their health. Sometimes I wish it was that easy. I could go into an exam room, feel the dog’s nose and know right away if something was wrong.

Another common misconception is that worms cause a dog to scoot on his behind. I believe this myth began because pinworms in humans are very irritating and cause itching. There are very rare cases where tapeworms can cause scooting. Most of the time scooting is due to blocked anal glands. Anal glands are two sacs that are located at approximately 5 and 7 o’clock on a dog and cat’s rectum. Sometimes the ducts get plugged while the sacs themselves continue to fill up. This can become very painful and left untreated can lead to ruptures and severe infections. Sometimes these sacs must be surgically removed but this is rare. Relieving this problem can usually be accomplished very easily and with proper training it is something that can be done at home.

Often in the spring and summer I hear “Dogs eat grass because they want to vomit.” Nope! Dogs are very smart and can do some amazing things but that level of reasoning is a bit beyond them. Dogs eat grass because they like it, especially nice, lush spring grass. Do they then vomit? Yes, most of the time they do but that was not the original goal of the dog.

Finally, another myth that is common is that ticks tunnel into the dog’s skin. This is not true. A tick attaches with its mouth parts, but most of the tick remains outside of the dog. Removing ticks is simply a matter of grasping the tick near the skin and pulling it out. Occasionally the dog will develop a small bump where the tick was removed, but this is simply a granuloma and will resolve on its own.

I cannot stress this enough: There is a lot of false and misleading information on the internet. No one edits, proofreads or otherwise verifies most information online, so if you have a question concerning your pets, please consult your veterinarian.


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