The dictionary defines a myth as a widely held but false belief or idea. Boy do we like to use these in vet medicine. I know, I used them my self for over twenty years. Once I started questioning my own myths, I came to realize the absurdity in them and now spend my time empowering my clients to question them themselves. There are many myths regarding pet care but here are a few that have stood the test of time.
1. You must feed dry kibble to keep your pet’s teeth clean.
You are led to believe that dogs and cats are chewers and that chewing kibble actually cleans the teeth. In truth, dogs and cats are not chewers. They simply break the food down into small enough portions to swallow as quickly as possible. Kibble actually potentiates dental disease as all heat-processed kibble causes inflammation and bacterial overgrowth, which is the underlying cause of dental disease. To keep the mouth and teeth healthy, we must feed a balanced, fresh diet and avoid heat-processed kibble. Giving large, raw bones will help keep the teeth shiny and clean.
2. You must start puppies and kitten vaccinations at 6-8 weeks and booster them every 3 weeks until 15 weeks of age.
This myth has been around so long, the it has been picked up by most breeders and is the reason that most puppies are vaccinated by the time they go to their new homes. In truth, most puppies (and some kittens)have maternal antibodies from their mother that block the effectiveness of puppy vaccinations. In truth, we should only give one puppy vaccination after the maternal antibodies are gone which is by 14 weeks of age.
3. Raw food is bad and will likely give your pet salmonella.
We vets love to use this myth and nothing gets someone motivated more than using fearful tactics. It has gotten so bad that oncologist are now telling clients with pets with cancer that raw food should not be fed due to the pet’s suppressed immune system. The truth is the primary defense in pets against salmonella or any other ingested microorganism is the stomach acidity, not the immune system. Ever wonder why your dog or cat can eat those horrible things and not get sick or drink that disgusting water that they find? Now you know why.
4. Allergies cannot be cured. At best, they can only be controlled.
In defense of the veterinarians, this myth started in the veterinary college. Every vet in the US and I am sure around the world, was told that allergies cannot be cured. The reason behind this myth is not hard to understand as the approach to pets with allergies is to use drugs to control symptoms and secondary problems. No one is taught to deal with the cause; an imbalanced immune system. In truth, we can cure allergies in people and pets by fixing the immune system, fixing the gut and using natural remedies instead of harmful drugs to control symptoms while the immune system is healing.
5. Door A or Door B. There is no Door C.
This myth occurs when we vets are stuck in the mindset of conventional vet medicine only. Whether it is treating cancer, allergies, IBD or any other disease, we stick to our training and often refuse to look outside the box for other options which creates enormous limitations for pet health care. In truth, there is always a Door C which should be considered with any health problem, particularly if it is chronic. Food as medicine, natural remedies and alternative modalities are rewriting the books in regard to success in treatments, resolutions and extending our pet’s quality of life.
Empower yourself as a pet caretaker and learn the truth so that we can get rid of these myths. It will certainly benefit your pet’s health care.