Friday, September 3, 2010

Surprising Dog and Cat Facts

Myth: Warm Nose, Sick Dog
The temperature of a dog's nose changes easily and is not a good sign of illness. It can be hot and dry after lying in the sun or cool and wet from dipping into the water bowl. Better signs of illness are lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, coughing, or a fever higher than 102.5°F on a rectal thermometer. The wet snout? It comes from tear ducts that drain toward the nose.

Fact: Dogs Can Smell Diabetes
It sounds like a Lassie TV episode, but it's truth, not fiction. Dogs can sniff out a dangerous drop in blood sugar in a diabetic owner and alert the person to take action by pawing, licking, whining, or barking. A few dogs have even been trained and placed as diabetic service dogs. Their nose for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is correct 90% of the time, according to their trainers.

Myth: Cats Steal a Baby's Breath
This superstition goes back to the 1700s. When babies died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), people were quick to blame a cat seen lying in the crib. Today, soft toys, illnesses, a stomach-lying position have all been linked to SIDS — but not cats. Cats are drawn to cribs because they're warm, cozy, elevated places – perfect for a catnap.

Fact: Dog Kisses Can Make You Sick
Think dogs' mouths are cleaner than humans? Think again. Veterinarians say dogs' chops are teeming with germs like salmonella, campylobacter, and cryptosporidium. These germs get into a dog's mouth from eating spoiled food or when he uses his tongue as toilet paper. Then a kiss moves these germs from pooch to person, along with a nasty course of diarrhea.

Cat Language: Purring Through Pain
The quiet, motor-like sound of a purring cat is not yet well understood. Every cat fancier has seen their pet purring in happiness; yet cats also purr when they are in pain or close to death. It may be a self-soothing behavior. Kittens begin purring within hours of birth as they nurse — and the mother cat purrs during feeding sessions, too.

Fact: Smoking Kills Cats and Dogs
Secondhand smoke causes at least two fatal cancers in cats: lymphoma and oral carcinoma. Housecats get a double dose of toxins by breathing cigarette smoke in the air and by licking the residue off their fur when grooming. Dogs with long noses may develop cancerous nasal tumors from living with a smoker — and short-nosed breeds are more prone to lung cancer.

Myth: Cats Need Milk
The long-standing myth that cats need milk is wrong and giving your pet a saucer of cow's milk could make it vomit or have diarrhea. Kittens drink their mother's milk until they are weaned and older cats may like the taste of cow's milk. But adult cats don't have much lactase, the enzyme needed to break down the lactose sugar in milk. The result is often uncomfortable and messy: diarrhea.