5 Myths About Dogs

Here are 5 common myths about dogs and their care.

We hear lots of myths about dogs around the veterinary hospital. Today, I’d like to share some of the most common myths and the actual truth behind them.

1. Dogs don’t see color. 

Dogs do not see everything in shades of gray. Instead, they see variations of blue and yellow because they only have two types of cones (the vision receptors responsible for seeing color). Their vision is not as sharp as ours, either. However, they see much better at night than we do thanks to a special reflective layer in the back of the eye called the tapetum lucidum. The reflective layer amplifies the light that comes into the eye so dogs can see better in low light. The tapetum can be a variety of colors such as yellow, blue, green, or orange and shows up when you take a picture using the flash.

Dog with tapetal reflection
My dog, Henry Wrinkler, and his tapetal reflection

Here’s what a picture of the front of our building looks through human eyes versus dog eyes:



Dog vision

Check out how your dog sees the world by uploading a picture to this site.

Learn more here! 

2. Dogs eat grass when they are sick.

While some dogs will eat grass when they have an upset stomach, there are many who eat grass for other reasons. Sometimes it becomes a compulsion. Other times it can be due to boredom. It can also be because the dog just likes to eat grass. In small amounts, assuming the grass is not treated with fertilizers or pesticides, ingesting grass is not harmful and there is no reason to stop the behavior.

Dog eating grass

3. A cold wet nose means a dog is healthy. 

Sadly, this is just an old wives tale. Dryness or wetness and temperature have nothing to do with your dog’s health.

Dog nose

4. A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human mouth.

Definitely not! And they also can’t heal wounds by licking them; that’s why we use the cone of shame.

Dog mouth and bacteria culture plate

Pets also can have varying amounts of bacteria in their mouths based on their habits and lifestyle. I once cultured the mouths of all of my dogs for a project and one of them (Lana) had just as much bacteria in her mouth as a toilet because she eats snacks she finds in the backyard. Gross!!!

5. Female dogs need to go through a heat cycle before being spayed.

Dog surgery

This used to be very popular 20 or so years ago. These days, research has shown a relation between mammary cancer and heat cycles. The risk of mammary cancer increases with each heat cycle not to mention the risk of a uterine infection and unwanted pregnancies.

Newer research has come out to show that leaving dogs intact until they are older, generally about a year of age, may be protective against other types of cancer. However, I still recommend spaying before the first heat cycle because, to me, reducing the risk of one cancer while increasing the risk of another doesn’t make sense and I’d rather prevent accidental pregnancy as I’ve seen how many puppies shelters take in each year.

This is why it’s always best to discuss medical decisions with your veterinarian.


Which of these myths about dogs are you most surprised about? Did you learn anything from this post? Like us on Facebook to get more information on keeping your pet healthy and happy.