8 Dog and Cat Myths Debunked

cat mythsMYTH 1: Dogs can fall in love

TRUE. They don’t call it puppy love for nothing. Science shows that a dog’s brain releases oxytocin – the love hormone – when it interacts with humans and dogs, just the same as a human brain does when we hug or kiss.

MYTH 2: A wagging tail means a happy dog, and a purring cat is a happy cat

TRUE…SOMETIMES. Purring generally means a cat is happy, but it can also mean they’re stressed, sick, or in pain. Some believe that it is a self-comforting mechanism that helps cats rest and repair.

Similarly, a wagging tail on a dog generally means they’re happy, but can also indicate that they’re nervous. Researchers found that a dog’s tail wagging to the right indicates positive emotions (content or excited) while wagging to the left indicates negative emotions (stressed or anxious).

MYTH 3: Cats are nocturnal

FALSE. They are not nocturnal, but they are instinctively crepuscular – which means they are most active at dawn and dusk, when hunting opportunities are rife and there’s enough light for them to see well.

MYTH 4: Indoor dogs don’t get heartworm

FALSE. Just because a dog stays indoors most of the time doesn’t mean it can’t come into contact with a mosquito. And it takes just one mosquito bite for a dog to contract heartworm, which can be fatal. At the very least, the treatment process will be expensive to the pet owner. Heartworm prevention is important for both indoor and outdoor dogs.

MYTH 5: Cats land on their feet

TRUE. Cats do possess a “righting reflex” that helps them correct their bodies when they fall, however the height of the fall will affect how they land. A low height could result in a cat landing on their side and a higher height can cause serious injury.

MYTH 6: Dogs eat grass only when they are sick

FALSE. Eating grass doesn’t always mean your dog is sick, although sometimes it does. Some dogs eat grass because they like the taste or are trying to fulfill a nutritional need. It could also mean that they are bored or they are using it to help with digestion.

MYTH 7: It’s OK to skip flea and tick preventatives during the winter

FALSE. Fleas can survive in temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Ticks have trouble surviving during the winter, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. Ticks typically die in weather -2 degrees to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. However, that can be affected by the environment, the type of tick, and how deep they burrow. With our unpredictable Minnesota weather, temperatures can fluctuate, which bring these critters out of hibernation. It’s not worth the risk of disease transmission or flea/tick infestation when you skip doses.

MYTH 8: Cats hate water

FALSE. Your cat probably doesn’t appreciate being dunked in the bath, but many cats and kittens find running water fascinating.

For questions about other dog or cat myths or other questions regarding your pet, please contact our animal hospital team at St. Paul Pet Hospital.