6 Wednesday, January 7, 2015 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon Paw Prints Jodi Schneider McNamee Columnist Common dog myths debunked Call them legends or even old wives’ tales, but don’t call them facts. Whether it’s a tip from a neighbor or something you remember from long ago, myths about dogs can steer you in the wrong direction. These myths have been around since the domesti- cation of dogs, and some of them stick around even today. Here are some mis- conceptions about dogs that just won’t die: It was once believed that dogs could see only in black and white. Many people still think this is the case. Dogs do see in color, but they see differently than most people do and are less able to dis- tinguish between colors. Veterinary ophthalmologists have determined that dogs see like humans who have red/green color blindness. Dogs’ eyes have receptors for blue and green shades, but not for red shades. As a result, it appears that dogs cannot easily distinguish between yellow, green and red, but they can identify dif- ferent shades of blue, purple and gray. “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a myth that has become a popular cli- ché over the years, (usually referring to people). The fact is old dogs not only learn new tricks, but they thrive when being trained. While it isn’t as easy to teach an older dog new tricks, it can still be accomplished. A senior dog might no longer possess the reflexes or energy of an enthusiastic puppy, but with some patience on the pet par- ent’s part, introducing new skills to an old dog is per- fectly achievable. Another old wives tale, which is probably the big- gest dog-health misconcep- tion around, is that if your dog’s nose is warm or dry, it indicates he’s sick. The moisture content or even the temperature of a dog’s nose are not measurements of his health. For instance, your pooch’s nose is often dry and/or warm if he has just woken up, and this is per- fectly normal. But if his nose is persistently dry and crusted, it could be a sign of a health problem; just check with your vet. Have you ever seen your dog eat grass? The myth is that a dog will eat grass to induce vomiting, and it’s true that dogs will often throw up after eating a lot of grass. However, this does not mean they ate that grass to induce vomiting, or that it is somehow a sign of illness. While nobody knows the exact reasons why dogs eat grass, it is possible that they just actually like grass. Some dogs like to graze, while others chomp. Enough grass in the stomach can cre- ate minor irritation and cause Fido to vomit. Some experts believe that a dog’s taste for grass goes back to the days when dogs’ ances- tors, such as wolves, ate the stomach con- tents of its prey, usu- ally grass, leaves, etc. Regardless of the reason, it’s relatively harmless as long as the grass is not chem- ically treated. So you think that a few table-scraps are okay for your dog? Think again. One ounce of cheddar cheese for a 20-pound dog is like a human eating more than one- and-a-half chocolate bars. In other words, photo by Jodi Schneider mcnamee table scraps are empty Buddy is an older dog that loves to learn new things. calories for dogs. Your precious pooch needs precisely balanced that is not always the case. need mental stimulation as nutrition for his specific life And this happens to be a well as physical activity. If stage to continue to remain dangerous misconception you leave your dog out in that sometimes leads to dog the yard alone, they might healthy. For instance, eating bites. While tail-wagging not get much of either. It’s scraps of ham could create often means that a dog is important to take them for gastrointestinal problems happy or excited, it can also walks, play fetch or sim- and pancreatic concerns. Do suggest anxiety or even fear, ply run around together. Of your furry friend a favor and which can be aggression course different-sized dogs may require different levels stick to his nutritional dog triggers. Some people believe that of activity, and not only will food and treats. Most people think that if just letting their dog out in it make for a happier, health- a dog’s tail is wagging that the yard is enough exercise, ier dog but it will also help is a sign of a happy dog. But and that, too, is myth. Dogs strengthen your relationship.