Myth-Busting: Pet Dangers
Veterinarian Marty Becker Separates Fact
From Fiction for Your Furry Friends
By LAURA ZACCARO and LEE FERRAN
Can chocolate really
kill your dog? If your dog chomps down on poinsettias,
is it going to be OK?
From old wives tales
to internet-based scares, pet owners often find
themselves in a fog of half-truths and outright lies
when it comes to keeping their animals safe.
Veterinarian" Marty Becker dropped by "Good Morning
America" today to do a little myth-busting.
Thanks to the
Humane Society of New York, two lovable pets, Romeo and
Pringles, joined Becker today on "GMA."
CLICK HERE to learn more about the
Humane Society of New York and how to adopt a pet.
CLICK HERE for some more surprising
pet dangers that could be in your home.
Small Amounts of
Chocolate Are Deadly to Dogs: Myth
Many pet owners think
that just one bite of chocolate kill your dog, but the
truth is, a large dog would have to eat a lot of milk
chocolate to get sick -- more than a couple of pounds.
But even though
chocolate is not necessarily deadly, that doesn't mean
you should give it out as treats.
"The rule of thumb is,
the darker the chocolate, and the smaller the dog, the
more dangerous it is," Becker said.
Swiffer Wet Jet and
Febreze Can Harm My Dog: Myth
This rumor, which was
spread mostly by email, said the chemicals in Swiffer
Wet Jet and Febreze could get on the paws of your pet
and then become ingested when they lick their paws. The
rumor also said that the products contained anti-freeze.
But the truth is
neither products are harmful for your furry friend.
The emails circulated
so widely that the Animal Poison Control Center of the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals looked into the claim and found them perfectly
Poinsettias Can Be Deadly: Myth
Especially around the
holidays, pet owners are concerned that animals that
decide to make a snack out of the festive poinsettias
could be eating a deadly plant.
But Becker said that
the plant is far from deadly, but could give your pet an
Pet Food Isn't Safe:
A few years ago some
recalls of dog and cat food gave pet
owners reason to be suspicious of some pet foods. The
recurrent outbreak of
salmonella in human food recently
certainly hasn't helped to ease fears.
But according to
Becker, pet food is safe for pets as long as normal
precautions are used. Just be sure to keep the area
around the food clean and wash your hands thoroughly
after feeding your pets.
Non-Stick Cookware is Deadly for
The cookware is safe
at lower temperatures, but Becker said that when they
are overheated, the coating can emit fumes that can kill
pet birds. When exactly the pans become lethal is
difficult to tell, but veterinarians suggest not keeping
birds in the kitchen and not using non-stick cookware
Becker said that you
don't want to have any of these flowers in your garden
-- they can be toxic and can even kill if your pets get
Candy and Gum Are
Harmful: Truth, But Only If It Contains Xylitol
Xylitol is a popular
sugar substitute that is used in many products from gum
to candy and can be harmful.
"It doesn't take much
to kill a pet, so be sure not to leave gum and candies
anywhere your pet can get at it," Becker said.
You Can Use Dog Tick
and Flea Products on Cats: Myth
Becker said that pet
owners tend to be casual about the use of tick and flea
products, but often forget that something that kills
small animals can hurt big ones too.
The biggest danger is
not following labeled directions exactly -- especially
when it comes to not using dog products on cats.
Before using a flea or
tick product, you may want to ask your veterinarian what
works best for your animal.
Web Extra: Which Safety Issue is
Critical? Which One Can You Worry Less Over?
Here are a few extra
tips from Dr. Marty Becker:
Worry a Bit Less About ...
Puppy diseases: Yes, your puppy can
pick up diseases from other dogs who are sick. But your
puppy also needs to be socialized to grow up relaxed and
comfortable. Don't take your puppy anywhere other dogs
are (unless they're dogs you KNOW to be healthy and
current on vaccinations, such as a friend's dog in a
friend's backyard for a playdate) until your vet gives
you the go-ahead after the last shot. But DO take your
puppy where people are. One great way to meet-and-greet:
The patio of a coffee shop. Bring healthy treats for
your puppy (water, too!).
Chicken bones: While cooked poultry
bones are not safe for pets to eat, they're not
instantly deadly, either. Once they're in the system,
they'll probably be digested just fine. But do talk to
your veterinarian if your pet eats any and take your pet
in if you see any sign of illness.
Raw meat and eggs: Dogs aren't as
susceptible to salmonella as people are. A healthy dog
will probably do fine if exposed to salmonella. But
since humans aren't as strong against salmonella, the
real problem is what could happen when you handle food
with a problem. Kibble and treats have recently been
recalled for salmonella. Take precautions with ALL food,
even pet food, for your own sake: Wash your hands
regularly, and keep food prep areas clean.
Worry More About:
Swimming: Not all dogs can swim.
Short-faced breeds such as the bulldog usually can't
swim and they can drown easily. Even water dogs like
Labradors can drown if they get too tired, the current's
too strong or the water's too cold. Cats usually do OK.
They can swim, usually pretty well, but they sure don't
want to. And beware the warnings for algae blooms. If a
pond or lake isn't safe for you, it's not safe for your
Cats and string: Yarn, ribbon, thread
or even the juice-saturated string from a roast -- your
cat may eat any one of these and need surgical
intervention to live. The cure is easy: Keep a lid on
the garbage and put all hobby projects safely away when
you're not working on them.
Temperature extremes: Perhaps because
they seem more "wild" then we are, we tend to think pets
can handle high or low temperatures better than we do.
But not so, especially for pets who are unfit,
chronically ill or aged. Always protect pets from cold
or heat, using shelter, protective gear and -- for heat
-- having lots of cool water available.
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