Pet Health: Household Pet Safety Myths Debunked
Myths. Old wives tales. Urban legends. Whatever you call them, we've all heard well meaning but incorrect advice about pet health and safety from friends, family and co-workers. But separating fact from fiction about pet health isn't always easy. To clear up the confusion, below are some of the most widely spread - yet erroneous - pet safety and health tips circulating among pet owners.
Pet Health Myth #1
Flea Fighting Garlic: It's often been said that adding garlic to your dog's food helps fend off fleas. It won't. This is pet safety myth! Actually this pungent herb is one of several foods that, when given in large quantities, are dangerous to dogs. "It can destroy their red blood cells and make them anemic," says Craig Datz, DVM, and assistant professor at the University of Missouri's College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia. And a little bit of garlic doesn't work for fleas either. "It just makes dogs smell bad," he adds.
Pet Health Myth #2
Poisonous Poinsettias: These festive flowering plants are practically a holiday tradition. But for decades concerned owners banished poinsettias from their homes, fearing their pets might nibble on the poisonous leaves. Well, worry no more, another pet safety myth is debunked! ASPCA toxicologists report that ingestion of poinsettias only produces mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation. Because of the plant's low toxic potential, they say, veterinary treatment usually isn't necessary.
Pet Health Myth #3
Deadly Household Cleaners: A frantic e-mail message has probably landed in your in-box warning about chemicals in water-based cleaning products (used to clean household floors) causing liver damage in family pets.
So is the Internet rumor true? Can these products cause damage to your pet's health? Absolutely not, say veterinary toxicologists at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' (ASPCA) Animal Poison Control Center in Illinois.
These cleaning products contain mostly water, in addition to chemical cleaning ingredients. "These ingredients are safe to use around pets when used according to label directions and would not cause liver damage at product concentrations," say ASPCA veterinary toxicologists. The chemicals, they note, differ significantly from ethylene glycol - the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze products.
Pet Health Myth #4
Safe Automobile Antifreeze: Concerns over pets (and children) ingesting this sweet tasting - yet deadly --liquid has prompted several state laws requiring manufacturers of ethylene glycol antifreeze to add a bittering agent. But does a foul taste stop pets - especially dogs, who love disgusting snacks -- from drinking it?
"No," says ASPCA's Steven Hansen, a board certified veterinary toxicologist. "There's no scientific evidence that the bitter agents work for dogs or cats." Unfortunately, he says, it only gives pet owners a false sense of security. Don't be fooled by this pet safety myth!
Pet Health Myth #5
Indoor Cats Don't Get Heartworm: You can protect your feline from many outdoor dangers by keeping them indoors, but heartworm isn't one of them. Mosquitoes carrying heartworm disease can easily enter homes through open windows and doors. Recent studies show incidents of the disease in cats living exclusively indoors are on the rise, according to the American Heartworm Society.
Reported in all 48 contiguous states and Hawaii, heartworm can lead to heart failure and severe lung disease. If the disease is found in dogs in your area, the Heartworm Society emphasizes cats are also at risk and should be placed on preventive medication.
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