dog myths

Seven Dog Myth Busters Courtesy Science

dog myths
Image courtesy Deposit Photo.

Science proving what dog lovers of the highest order have known for years is always a good thing. Dogs understand human behavior better than most people believe and “science” being able to prove this is a win-win for dogs in general.

Here are seven dog myth busters that science has debunked:

cocker spaniel

Myth: Dogs cannot feel emotions and feelings in the same way as people.

Fact: According to the Tech Times, “Researchers in Hungary undertook a study to examine how canines are able to sense emotion in human voices. They trained 11 dogs to sit still in a functional MRI.  The scientists recorded brain function in the canines as they listened to 200 human and dog sounds, including crying and laughing.

When happy sounds were heard, both dogs and humans showed an increased activity in their primary auditory complex. Dogs, however, were more responsive with non-vocal noises compared to their human counterparts. Read the entire scoop on the dog study here.

Reality: Dogs feel very much in the same way we as humans do.

dog kiss

Myth: Dogs do not display jealousy.

Fact: Oh yes they do, and thanks, Science! Researchers videotaped three dozen dogs at home while their parents ignored them and instead interacted with items like a fake dog, book, and a jack-o-lantern. According to the peer-reviewed online scientific journal, PLOS One, dogs displayed “jealousy” when their parents cooed over the stuffed dog, yet were not as interested when affections were showered over the book or plastic pumpkin.

Reality:  The green-eyed monster isn’t exclusively reserved for humans.


Myth: Dogs do not need their teeth brushed.

Fact: According to Dr. Lorie Huston for petMD, dental disease is one of the most common diseases diagnosed by veterinarians. Proper oral care begins with regular brushing of your pet’s teeth at home. However for pets that simply will not use a toothbrush, there are numerous types of dentrifices available that can help keep the teeth clean.  Dog dental care is imperative as much as walks, proper nutrition, and play time. Check out our dog dental post here.

Reality: Your dog doesn’t enjoy toothaches any more than you do.


Myth: Dogs eat grass because they have a sick stomach/need to vomit.

Fact: Dogs who eat grass slowly don’t usually vomit afterwards versus dogs who eat grass rapidly tend to vomit after doing so. Researchers believe, therefore, the digestive mechanism that induces vomiting has more to do with the rapid nature of eating grass versus the act of doing so. A team of researchers at University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital studied this topic. Their conclusion? Grass eating is a common behavior and doesn’t necessary indicate illness.

Reality: Don’t always believe old wives’ tales, sometimes grass eating is just well, grass eating and nothing more. Continual grass eating behavior should be addressed with your dog’s veterinarian.

dog vitamins

Myth: Dogs don’t need vitamins and supplements like humans.

Fact: According to trusted veterinarian, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, “natural/whole food-based vitamins are better absorbed by the body than their synthetic counterparts. “ There is, indeed, a need for supplements in today’s modern dog diet and our interview with Dr. Mahaney outlines why.

Reality: Proceed with caution and know thine vitamins and supplements, but yes, dogs can and do benefit from the right additives for the right reasons. Do your homework and consult with your dog’s veterinarian and/or veterinary nutritionist before adding anything.

Photo courtesy Dr. Laurie Coger

Myth: Dogs taste food in the same way humans do.

Fact: According to a report filed in Psychology Today, humans have around 9,000 taste buds versus 1,700 in an average dog. For good measure, dogs have more taste buds than cats, who have around 470 taste buds. Taste receptors of dogs respond with the same type of chemicals that trigger human taste sensations. The major difference, however, was with taste response to salt: We like things including pretzels, chips, and popcorn. Dogs, however, are primarily carnivores and get their sodium content from meat. Due to this, the strong salt cravings we have do not exist in dogs.

Reality:  A dog’s sense of smell is strongest of the senses so fussiness is probably more about not liking what they smell versus not liking what they taste.

dog food
photo courtesy Felissa Elfenbein.

Myth: Organic pet food is better for my dog because the labeling says so.

Fact: Products labeled “100% Organic” with the “USDA Organic” seal contain only organically produced ingredients. Products made from at least 95% organic ingredients may also carry the “USDA Organic” seal. Products that contain at least 70% organic ingredients may label those on the ingredient listing. The USDA has ruled that its organic standards do apply to pet food. Most organic pet food products fall into 70% organic category, but a few follow the higher standards. Read our post about organic labeling here.

Reality:  Buyer beware and be certain to read a label with close scrutiny.

QUESTION: Did any of these myth busters surprise you?

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  1. These myth busters opened my eyes! The interesting one I find is the jealousy myth. It’s funny how dogs can be just as jealous as humans. My dog reacts the same way. If I engage with one of his toys and pretend to ignore him, he “fights” me for affection.

    The biggest surprise to me is the sense of smell. I always knew the sense of smell in a dog is the strongest, but never considered that might be the reason why he doesn’t like certain dog foods. I just assumed he didn’t like the taste and didn’t consider the aroma of the food.

    These myth busters are great.

  2. Great article! I love that Dr. Mahaney talks about whole food supplements. Too often dogs are fed very processed foods and are missing out on the nutrients from whole foods. I also found the jealousy study quite interesting.

  3. Great article, with a 15 1/2 year cocker I have learned these over the years. I do give him cosequin joint health supplement per vets recommendation.

  4. I was so happy to see a study finally happen about jealousy in dogs. Dog owners already know that jealousy happens with dogs! Love busting myths 🙂

  5. Really great myth busters! I thought they ate grass for a sour stomach and I did not know they had more taste buds then cats … interesting. I do agree about the smell be a deciding factor on whether they like something. Nadie smells something and automatically decides if she will eat it or not. Great info … thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. WHat a great post!!! Loved these!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  7. These are very interesting, not really surprising, but interesting. The jealousy test is actually kind of funny. Poor doggies looking on as you play with a stuffed dog, but not caring if you play with a pumpkin.

  8. An interesting article – thanks for posting! A couple of thoughts:

    1. “Dogs feel very much in the same way we as humans do.” From the studies that I’ve read, the answer to this is more nuanced and (I think) would be more accurately stated that dogs may feel emotions much the same way as a two or three year old human child.

    2. With regard to the notion of jealousy, I’m very open minded on the topic, but very little research has been done. This was just one study, and a much larger body of supportive evidence is needed before anything can be thought of as definitive.


  9. I’m supporting this article on my Face Book page to pass it along to all the dog lovers. Great information. Especially about the “organic” dog food. Also keep in mind that dog food manufacturers don’t have to list ALL ingredients, like they do for humans. The basic standard of requirements for nutrition in dogs can be achieved with a lot of garbage. Yes read the labels, but don’t believe the advertising the more ads you see for certain brands, no matter what they say…. proceed with caution.

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