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14 Pet Myths and Misconceptions to Stop Believing

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Dogster Team

Cat and Dog

14 Pet Myths and Misconceptions to Stop Believing

Experts believe that humans have been owning animals for more than 30,000 years. Our long history with pets means there are many myths and misconceptions circulating about owning these adorable creatures.

Unfortunately, these myths and misconceptions are not only wrong but also harmful to the animals’ health. If you are a pet owner, it’s imperative to stop believing these myths in order to provide your pet with the best care that they deserve.

Here, you will find 14 common pet myths and misconceptions. Read through them all to learn which ones you have been believing.


The 14 Pet Myths and Misconceptions to Stop Believing

1. Some dogs and cats are hypoallergenic.

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: All dogs and cats can cause allergies.

If you have allergies, you know that there are some pet breeds deemed “hypoallergenic.” This term is often misunderstood, though, and causes individuals to think that some dogs and cats will not trigger any allergies.

Breeds deemed hypoallergenic don’t tend to trigger allergic reactions as much as other breeds, but they still can make you sniffle. Allergies are triggered by a certain protein in the cat’s or dog’s urine, saliva, and skin. Since all cats and dogs have this protein, even the “hypoallergenic” ones can trigger allergies.

Estrela Mountain Dog and a cat
Image Credit: Joao Marques, Shutterstock

2. Pet hair is responsible for causing allergies. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: A protein in pet saliva, urine, and skin cells triggers allergies.

As mentioned, allergies are caused by a certain protein in pet saliva, skin, and urine. This fact debunks the idea that pet hair is responsible for allergies.

Pet hair itself is no different from the hair on our own heads. Whenever pets shed their fur, dander and skin flakes come with the fur. The dander causes the allergic reaction, not the hair itself. Licks from the pet can also trigger allergies.

3. Cats always land on their feet. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: While cats do have a “righting reflex,” they do not always land on their feet.

Cats have a unique ability called the air-righting reflex. This enables cats to correct their body position while falling so they land on their feet. However, cats have to fall from a certain height to do this.

So, while cats are more talented at turning themselves in the correct position, it isn’t always possible. If a cat falls from a short distance, they might not have time to fix themselves. Even in cases where the cat can still be properly oriented, they can still injure themselves, especially if falling from a great height.

tabby cat jumping
Image Credit: Piqsels

4. Purring means your cat is happy. 

  • True or False: Sometimes true
  • Reality: Purring can also mean your cat is scared or aggressive.

Purring is one of the most recognizable sounds that a cat makes. Most cat owners associate purring with a happy cat, which is true in some cases but not all.

Cats also purr whenever they are irritated, scared, or acting aggressively. Purring is simply a self-comforting mechanism. If your cat is purring while showing other signs of comfort, the cat is likely happy. Be on the lookout for signs of negative emotions, as these can tell you that the purring is negative.

5. Tail-wagging means that your dog is happy.

  • True or False: Sometimes true
  • Reality: Dogs sometimes wag their tails when stressed or anxious.

Like the purring misconception, most people associate tail wagging with happiness and excitement in dogs. Don’t get us wrong; many dogs wag their tails whenever they are happy and excited.

Sometimes, though, a dog will wag their tail when they are stressed or anxious. Tail wagging is just a result of excitement, whether positive or negative. For this reason, you will see many dogs wagging their tails before a dog fight. Look for other signs of stress to determine if your dog is wagging their tail out of stress.

two smiling dogs happy outside mating
Image credit: S Curtis, Shutterstock

6. Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than human mouths.

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Dog mouths have bacteria, but they differ from those found in human mouths.

Many people believe that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. This misconception is due to the fact that the bacteria in a dog’s mouth are different from those in a human’s mouth, so it must mean that the bacteria from your dog’s mouth cannot be transferred to you.

That’s not the case, and even if it was, dogs have just as much bacteria in their mouths as we do. It is just a different type of bacteria than what we have, meaning their mouths are equally dirty as our own.

7. All cats hate getting wet.  

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Some cats enjoy it.

It’s a common belief that cats hate getting wet. This is certainly true for some cats, but not all. Shorthair cats and cats exposed to water from a young age often enjoy splashing around in a pool or bath.

In contrast, cats with long fur or those not often exposed to water often hate getting wet. The water weighs them down, making it more difficult to escape a predator. Expose your kitten to water from a young age to acclimate them to the sensation.

Girl washes cat in the bath
Image Credit: Olleg, Shutterstock

8. Dogs are colorblind. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Dogs can’t see all the colors we can, but they can see some colors.

One of the most common ideas about dogs is that they can only see in black and white. This is completely false. Dogs can see color, just not as vibrantly as we do.

More specifically, dogs can see shades of blue, yellow, and green, though the colors aren’t as bright. Their strong senses of smell and hearing make up for their dull color vision.

9. Dogs get enough exercise when playing in the backyard. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Dogs need a lot of exercise, including mental stimulation and walks.

Dogs need a lot of exercise, and your backyard isn’t going to cut it alone. Although having a fenced-in backyard is great, your dog also needs mental stimulation, walks, and even jogs for complete exercise.

Small dogs should be able to get enough exercise from you playing inside and outside with them. But large dogs will need a lot more stimulation, since fences and houses are simply not big enough to get all their energy out.

female french bulldog playing ball_
Image Credit: Piqsels

10. Pets eat grass when they are sick. 

  • True or False: Sometimes true
  • Reality: Pets eat grass for many reasons.

Pets eat grass for several reasons. Sometimes, pets eat grass because they are sick and want to console their bellies. Other times, pets eat grass to help digestion, to get the nutrition they lack, or out of boredom.

Unless your pet is showing other signs of illness, you don’t have to think much about their grass consumption.

11. A “dog year” is the same as 7 human years.

  • True or False: Sometimes true
  • Reality: Many factors impact how quickly a dog ages.

Young children are often told that a dog year is the same as 7 human years. This is more of an estimation than an exact science. Many other factors will impact how quickly your dog ages.

For example, breed and size heavily impact how quickly your dog experiences the effects of aging. Large breeds age faster than small ones as a result. On average, 1 dog year for a large breed is about 15 human years, but even this isn’t accurate for all big dogs. The 7-year estimation may be more accurate for small breeds.

playing with dog_Olena Yakobchuk_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

12. Goldfish can live in a bowl. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Goldfish need a minimum of 20 gallons.

Goldfish are one of the most popular pets, and they’re often chosen because they can be housed inside a bowl. But this common practice is outright wrong and harmful. A single goldfish needs a minimum of 20 gallons to swim around. If you put your goldfish in a small bowl, it will die quickly.

13. Your dog is healthy if they have a wet nose.

  • True or False: Sometimes true
  • Reality: Your dog’s nose will change based on activities.

Some pet owners check to see if their dog is healthy by looking at their nose. If it is wet, it means the dog is healthy. Although this trick sometimes works, there are some instances when your dog’s nose should be dry.

Many activities can impact your dog’s nose being wet or dry. When your dog is sleeping, they will likely have a dry nose, which is completely normal. Look for other signs to determine if your dog is sick or healthy.

male Akita dog closeup tongue out (1)
Image credit: Piqsels

14. Small pets don’t require as much effort as large ones. 

  • True or False: False
  • Reality: Small pets are just as much a responsibility as dogs or cats.

Many parents surprise their young children with small pets like guinea pigs or hamsters. There is a misconception that these creatures are easier to care for, which makes them better suited for children.

Under no circumstance should children be responsible for taking care of pets, even small ones. They require just as much care and attention as large pets. Guinea pigs, for example, need to have their cages cleaned daily, be fed twice a day, have their nails trimmed regularly, and be held respectfully.

In other words, small pets require just as much effort as big pets. Don’t get small exotic pets if you aren’t prepared to provide them with the lifestyle they need and deserve.divider-multipet

Tips for Caring for Your Pet

If you’ve got a new pet, it’s important that you do not let false information and myths cause you to care for your pet incorrectly. Instead, always provide your pet with top-notch care to ensure they live a healthy and happy life.

The best way to avoid any harmful misconceptions is to talk to your vet. They will have extensive knowledge of your pet species specifically. This knowledge will help you debunk harmful myths and learn top information concerning caring for your pet.

If you ever hear or read something that you are not quite sure if it’s true, just call your vet directly. They will be happy to clarify any confusion and set the record straight.divider-multipet

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are tons of myths and misconceptions about pets. Some of these are completely harmless, but others can cause a pet to become sick and die prematurely.

Make sure you are always providing your pet with the care that they require. If you aren’t sure what your pet needs, talk to your vet. They will be able to clear up any confusion to ensure that your pet is getting the proper care, love, and attention that they deserve.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

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