Think you know your pet from head to tail? Here are nine myths to test your general dog and cat knowledge. Read on to find out what’s true and what’s bogus.
1. You can't teach an old dog new tricks.
False. Dogs have the ability – and curiosity – to learn at any age, which means you can teach your senior dog commands or tricks the way you would teach a younger pup. It may just take slightly longer for an older dog to learn a new skill.
2. Cats purr because they are happy.
False. Cats purr when they are happy, but they can also purr when stressed, ill or while giving birth. It’s believed cats purr when experiencing strong emotions (whether happy or sad), as well as a way to comfort themselves and their kittens.
3. Dogs have unique ‘fingerprints’.
True, but this isn’t on their paws, it’s on their nose! Dogs’ nose prints are unique to them the same way our fingerprints are unique to people. Take a close look at your dog’s nose and you’ll notice lines forming an intricate pattern – that’s what’s known as their nose print.
4. Putting a bell on your cat will prevent it from killing birds.
True. According to research by the RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), a correctly fitted collar and bell can reduce cat predation by a third. However, some cats can eventually learn to walk without ringing the bell. Thus, wildlife experts suggest replacing your cat’s bell from time to time, choosing brightly coloured collars and placing bird feeders and nestboxes where our feline friends can’t reach them.
5. Some dog breeds are hypoallergenic.
False. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog breed. However, some breeds are indeed more allergy-friendly. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t dog hair that triggers allergies but a protein found in their saliva and urine. This protein sticks to dogs’ fur and, when shed, it is released into the air. Therefore, low-shedding breeds, hairless dogs (and smaller dogs in general) are the best option for allergy sufferers who’d still love a canine companion in their life.
6. Flea prevention isn't necessary during winter.
False. Fleas are less active in cold weather, but our warm homes have become the ideal environment for them to thrive in during winter. Which is why most vets will recommend that pet owners treat dogs and cats all year-round. Learn more about protecting your pet and your home here.
7. Dogs see in black and white.
False. This is a common misconception. Our canine friends can see a wide range of colours, but while humans can see the full-colour spectrum, dogs only perceive a scale of yellow and blue.
8. An itchy pet is a sign of fleas.
False. Fleas are a common cause of itchy skin, but there are other frequent causes, such as allergies, skin infections and mites. If your dog or cat is suddenly itchier than usual, see a vet for the correct diagnosis and treatment.
9. Cats have nine lives.
False. Cats are extremely agile animals who can survive high falls and walk away unharmed from unexpected situations, so it’s easy to see where this myth is coming from! But as much as we wished they had nine lives, we all know they are only mortal.