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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pet Mythbusters, Part 2

I did an entry on misconceptions about pets several months ago (in December), and thought I would address a few more.

Cats need to drink milk.
Dairy products aren't inherently harmful, but also aren't good. A dog's or cat's digestive system changes after weaning. The structure of the lining of the intestine alters to no longer be able to absorb lactose, the main sugar in milk. So once a pet has weaned (about 5 weeks old in dogs and cats), they develop a sort of lactose intolerance like some humans have. A little cheese, milk, or ice cream isn't a big concern, but enough can cause problems. Thankfully, these aren't serious problems, and are usually limited to diarrhea or vomiting. So the old image of a cat drinking from a bowl of milk or cream isn't really proper, and is nothing that a pet owner should be doing.

Giving garlic to a dog will repel fleas.
This is a common recommendation, and you can find many internet sources and discussion groups that will talk about it. The problem is that there is no scientific basis for this. In fact, studies have checked the effectiveness of garlic as a flea prevention, and found that it does absolutely nothing. I have read more than one scientific study that confirmed that garlic supplements do nothing to keep fleas off a dog. While it won't hurt, there really is no benefit at all to it, and there are much more effective ways to prevent fleas.

Have you ever wondered if those old remedies, recommendations or stories are true? Send me your questions and I'll answer them!