Greetings, earthlings! Welcome to the first post in a mini series I am doing called:
Veterinary Myth Busters
I tweeted over the weekend, asking my veterinarian friends what common veterinary medicine myths (#VetMedMyths) annoy them the most. Today, we’ll go over the top 3 from the list and briefly go over why they are not true. Later on, we will unpack each topic in a little more detail to break the cycle of misinformation that permeates the internet. Stay tuned so that you can be the most informed pet owner at the dog park!
“Grain free food is better for dogs, because most are allergic to corn.”
Submitted by: Me, @KatieHoganDVM
I hear this one daily in practice, and it drives me nuts. Most dogs with food allergy are not allergic to the grain in the diet, but to the protein (the beef, chicken, turkey, etc) in the diet. Grain free diets often come coupled with novel protein sources (proteins that your dog’s immune system hasn’t seen before), and so when they make the switch to grain free they see an improvement because they changed the protein, not the grain.
The “corn is bad for dogs” myth has been perpetuated by the excellent marketing strategies of certain pet food companies. These guys claim to sell “premium” products fit for the wolf living in your living room. Sorry, people, but your pug mix is not a wolf! Even if he was, corn would still not be bad for him. Corn is quite nutritious for dogs and other species. I encourage you to talk to your veterinarian, do your research and feed a high-quality food with meat as the first ingredient on the list. Some dogs do well on grain free food- but for most dogs (80-90%), you’re wasting your money.
“I don’t need heartworm and flea prevention because…”
Submitted by: @BalyBoo
You would not believe some of the ways people finish this sentence! The people who say this think that their pet is immune to the need for parasite prevention because they live in a gated community, their dog never interacts with other pets, they spray for mosquitos, they have hardwood floors, they’ve never had a problem before…. The list goes on and on! Later in this series, we’ll break down the many excuses and bust each one of them individually. But, for now, we’ll keep it short and sweet: Heartworms are spread by mosquitos, who can quite literally survive anywhere. Unless you keep your dog or cat in a plastic bubble…. he needs heartworm prevention!
As for fleas, they are extremely resilient, and can be spread by wildlife and feral/outdoor cats. In my practice, I see as many animals suffering because of fleas in the winter as I do in the summer. If your pet has fleas, you need at least four months of flea prevention to get rid of the current infestation. And if your pet goes outside or you have other pets that go outside? All pets in the household need flea prevention. Remember the old saying- an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
“Spaying my dog will make her sick”
Submitted by: @TiffanyHeaton
I hear this one a lot. In fact, it is 100% the other way around! Spaying your female dog before her first heat cycle reduces her risk of mammary cancer to a 0.5% chance compared to the 25% chance (1 in 4 dogs) for females who are not spayed or spayed after their second heat cycle. Breast cancer accounts for over half of all cancers in female dogs, and by spaying early you nearly eliminate this possibility!
Another common condition in older, unspayed female pets is pyometra- a serious infection that can be life-threatening and requires immediate (and very expensive) emergency surgery. We see this condition (as well as mammary cancer) in feline patients as well. Simply put, you will greatly increase your pet’s life expectancy and quality of life if you spay her before she is 6 months old!
Thanks for joining us for part one of the #VeterinaryMythBusters series. Check back on Sunday, where we will be investigating the grain free food myth!
Do you have a myth you’d like to submit? Want to get in on the conversation? Comment below or tweet @KatieHoganDVM
Resources and References:
Photo of dogs book Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-holding-dogs-a-miscellany-book-880720/
Photo of dog eating fruit by Rarnie McCudden from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-dalmatian-dog-eating-fruits-770363/
Photo of little girl and dog by Kai-Chieh Chan from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/portrait-of-a-smiling-young-woman-with-dog-332974/
Photo of dog with bow by Caio Resende from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/dog-pet-close-up-view-dogs-61372/
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”