Busted: The Truth Behind 9 Dog Myths Every Pet Owner Should Know

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Our dogs are amazing companions, but myths about them can lead to misunderstandings.

Have you ever wondered if your dog’s tail wag means they’re happy or if they’re truly colorblind?

I wanna talk about 10 common myths, debunk them, and hopefully help you to get to know your furry friends better.

Ready to learn the truth about your best friend? Let’s go!

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Dear Dog Owner

Myth 1: Dogs are colorblind

Reality: While it’s commonly believed that dogs can only see in black and white, this isn’t true.

Dogs have dichromatic vision, meaning they see two primary colors: blue and yellow.

They cannot distinguish between red and green, which appear as shades of gray to them.

This vision is similar to how a person with red-green color blindness perceives the world.

Despite this limitation, dogs rely more on their other senses, such as smell and hearing, to interact with their environment.

Myth 2: A wagging tail means a happy dog

Reality: Tail wagging is a complex form of canine communication and can signify a range of emotions beyond happiness.

Did you know? The speed and direction of the wag can provide clues!

For example, a slow wag with the tail held low often indicates insecurity or apprehension, while a fast wag with a high tail can signal excitement or even aggression.

What’s important is to observe the entire body language of your dog, which means its posture, ear position, and facial expressions, to accurately interpret their feelings.

Myth 3: Dogs eat grass because they are sick

Reality: While some dogs might eat grass to induce vomiting when they have an upset stomach, this behavior is usually not linked to illness.

Many dogs eat grass simply because they like the texture and taste.

Others may do so to increase fiber intake or out of boredom.

Occasional grass eating is generally harmless, but if a dog frequently eats grass and vomits, it might be a sign to consult a veterinarian.

Myth 4: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Reality: Age is not a barrier to learning for dogs.

Older dogs are definitely capable of learning new commands, tricks, and behaviors.

It’s just that they need a little more patience and consistent training methods.

The key? Use positive reinforcement and keep training sessions short and engaging.

Training an older dog can also be a great way to keep their mind sharp and improve their quality of life!

Myth 5: One human year equals seven dog years

Reality: The seven-to-one ratio is actually a really oversimplified way to calculate a dog’s age.

In reality, their aging process varies significantly between breeds and sizes.

For instance, smaller breeds tend to live longer and age more slowly than larger breeds.

A more accurate method considers the first two years of a dog’s life as equivalent to approximately 24 human years, with each subsequent year equating to 4-5 human years for smaller breeds and 7-9 years for larger breeds.

Myth 6: Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than humans’

Reality: I think most of us are not gonna like this, considering we all love our dog’s kisses.

Dogs’ mouths harbor a diverse array of bacteria, just like humans.

While some bacteria in a dog’s mouth are unique to their species and not harmful to humans, others can be dangerous.

For example, dogs often use their mouths to explore the world, which exposes them to germs from various sources.

Good dental hygiene, including regular brushing and veterinary check-ups, is important for maintaining a dog’s oral health.

Myth 7: Garlic is good for dogs

Reality: Garlic, along with onions and other members of the allium family, is toxic to dogs.

Ingesting garlic can lead to hemolytic anemia, a condition where red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be produced.

Symptoms of garlic toxicity include lethargy, weakness, and gastrointestinal upset.

It’s best to avoid feeding dogs any foods containing garlic or its derivatives.

Myth 8: Dogs’ noses should always be cold and wet

Reality: A dog’s nose can fluctuate between being wet and dry or cold and warm for various reasons.

Factors such as weather, activity level, and the dog’s overall health can affect the condition of their nose.

While a persistently dry or cracked nose might warrant a vet visit, occasional dryness is usually not a cause for concern.

Myth 9: All dogs are natural swimmers

Reality: Many dogs enjoy swimming, but not all breeds are natural swimmers.

Dogs with heavy, dense bodies, short legs, or flat faces (like Bulldogs and Pugs) may struggle to stay afloat.

On top of that, individual dogs may have personal preferences and fears regarding water too.

My Molly certainly avoids swimming whenever she can.

If you wanna bring your dog swimming, be sure to introduce them gradually and always supervise them to ensure their safety, regardless of their breed.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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