Dispelling Dog Myths

Dogs have been beside us for thousands and thousands of years. They were one of the first creatures to understand what it takes to have an active and mutually beneficial relationship with us humans. By our side, they usher us along dark forest trails and cold city streets. They can be as big as a small horse or as small as a big rat, and, because of their place at humanity’s side, many ideas surround them: some true, now verified in science, and others false, simply products of humanity’s imagination. Does a wagging tail mean a happy dog? Why is my dog’s nose wet and cool, and is a dog with a warm or dry nose sick? Will my dog let me know when she is sick by acting differently? Are mutts healthier than purebred dogs? Here, we answer those questions for you.

If a dog wags their tail, does it mean they are happy?

No. Aggressive dogs often wag their tails too. There are several physical body motions and cues that help dogs to communicate their intent. A wagging tail can mean agitation or excitement. A dog that wags his tail slowly and moves his all rear end or crouches down in the classic “play bow” position is usually a friendly wag. Tails that are wagged when held higher, and twitches or wagging while held over the back, may be associated with aggression.

Is a dog sick when its nose is warm/dry?

The moisture of a dog’s nose keeps it cool and helps it smell. Lacking sweat glands in their skin, they may only exude sweat from the pads of their feet and by evaporation through their mouth and nose. If something has caught your dog’s attention and it is sniffing around, odds are its nose will be cool and wet. It may then lick its own nose, sampling the chemicals present there to transfer them to the roof of their mouth, where another olfactory sense organ rests. An old legend once circulated widely about being able to keep tabs on the body temperature and general health of a dog by feeling its nose, much like our parents take our temperature by feeling our foreheads. The truth is that, not unlike with humans, the only true way to figure out a dog’s temperature is to use a scientific device-a thermometer. A dog who is healthy should hover around 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually, dogs who suffer from respiratory issues may have a thick discharge from their nose that may make it appear cool and wet.

Will my dog let me know when she is sick by acting differently?

If you lived in a world where things tried to eat you, would you let on when you weren’t feeling 100%? Similarly, dogs generally try to hide illness because of their survival instinct. If while petting them you notice that their ears smell bad, for instance, do not wait to get them checked out for ear infections until after they are in extreme discomfort or constantly scratching it.

Are mutts healthier than purebred dogs?

The nature of this question relies on what you define as “healthier”. Mutts, just like their purebred pals, can experience sickness in a ton of ways: hip dysplasia, cancer, intestinal, retinal, and skin conditions. However, purebred dogs are more likely to contract genetic diseases common in that particular breed.

As time continues, many more of the ideas people have regarding dogs will become either unsubstantiated or proven right by science. Each step forward in understanding the intricacies of dog life will allow us to become better owners of these lovable pets.

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