By MELINDA SARTE, DVM; Valley Community Newspapers guest columnist
Some of these myths may have originally had a grain of truth to them, but are now outdated. Some are leftover “wisdom” from a time before we had newer and safer ways of treating what ails our canine and feline family members.
Here is a collection of some of the more commonly overheard misconceptions.
Myth: “My dog/cat must be sick because his nose is dry.” Or the alternate version, “He must be okay because his nose is moist.”
Truth: Sick pets can have moist noses and well pets can have dry noses. If you notice a sudden change in the moisture level of your pets nose and there is accompanying change in their energy level or behavior, then it could be a sign of a problem.
Myth: “My pet drinks well and urinates a lot so I know her kidneys must be working well.”
Truth: Larger than normal production of urine is actually the first sign of kidney failure as well as a potential sign of other diseases such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, urinary tract infections and hyperthyroidism. When the kidneys first begin to fail, they lose the ability to form concentrated urine, hence the animal drinks and urinates more.
Myth: “If your cat is constipated, feed him a little mineral oil.”
Truth: While this may be an effective laxative, it has the potential to be very dangerous for your cat. Often the cat will inhale a little of the oil in the process of swallowing, and this can cause life-threatening pneumonia. If you need a mild and safe laxative for your cat, try a small spoonful of canned pumpkin (not the pie filling) with each meal. If constipation is more than just an occasional complaint or if your cat is not producing urine when straining in the litter box – consult a veterinarian, as it may be a more serious problem.
Myth: “A little bacon grease mixed in with my dog’s food will shine up her coat nicely.”
Truth: This one is a really dangerous misconception. A meal containing high levels of fat, grease, oil or spices will often trigger gastrointestinal upset severe enough to require a trip to the vet. It can even trigger a life-threatening and painful disease called pancreatitis. Dogs and cats should never be feed rich or spicy foods such as gravy, chicken skin, barbeque sauce, hamburgers or pork chops.
Myth: “Mineral oil in the ears is a good home remedy for ear mites.”
Truth: Ear mites are rare, and mineral oil will not cause them to drown. If your pet develops itchy ears with debris present, it could be caused by bacteria, yeast, or mites – and each one has a different treatment. Your veterinarian will need to look at a swab of the debris under the microscope to determine what is the cause, and will then direct you toward the appropriate treatment.
If your vet does diagnose mites – and you are not squeamish, ask them to show you them under the microscope. They are a little creepy and really interesting.
Melinda Sarte, DVM is a veterinarian at VCA Greenhaven Animal Hospital.