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dog_1210RISMEDIA, December 10, 2009—”You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It’s a common phrase, but one that holds more myth than fact. Old myths about pets continue to be passed down from generation to generation. “While some myths are harmless, others can be dangerous if pet owners believe them and act on them,” says Mark Nunez, DVM, president of the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). “That’s why it’s important to check with your veterinarian to find out if a commonly held belief is really true.”

Untrue myths about cats and dogs include:

Cats
-Cats always land on their feet. Most cats instinctively twist themselves to land on their feet, but not all are successful, particularly if they are surprised or injured. Plus, if a cat falls from a great height, it won’t matter if they land on their feet or not – they will get injured or killed.
-A purring cat is a happy cat. The truth is that cats purr for many reasons besides being content, including being nervous, distressed, sick or injured.

Dogs
-A wagging tail is a sign that a dog is happy. This is generally true, but there are different types of tail wags, and they have to be interpreted with the rest of the dog’s body language.
-Doggy breath is normal for dogs. Bad breath isn’t normal for any pet and could indicate a serious health problem, such as periodontal disease.
-Dogs and cats age seven years for every human year. There are no formulas for determining the human equivalent age of your pet–each pet ages differently. Check with your veterinarian for a ballpark estimate for your pet.

“It is important for pet owners to separate urban legends from the truth when caring for their pets,” says Dr. Nunez. “Anyone can post misinformation on a website. Fortunately, veterinarians can help pet owners get the facts.”

For more information, visit www.cvma.net.

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