According to a 2015-15 survey of pet owners conducted by American Pet Products Association (APPA), nearly 65% of all American households have at least one pet. Despite such broad ownership of pets, common myths about various species and other popular misconceptions about pet ownership remain widespread.
The following are seven of the top myths about pets and pet ownership, along with the facts that dispel these common misconceptions.
Fish are Fragile Creatures that Die Quickly
Of all of the creatures one might keep as a pet, few are viewed as being so fragile and prone to death as the humble fish. This popular myth is decidedly false, as with proper care, fish can actually live up to 30 years. Looking after one’s fish does require a bit of effort, however, as special attention must be given to cleaning and maintaining the environment in their tanks in order to support their health.
Pet owners that want to ensure the safety and long life of their fish should take time to research the needs and requirements of the specific species of fish they wish to keep, and only stock the aquarium with species of fish that are compatible with one another. Care must also be taken to feed the fish the proper type of food for its species, in the correct amounts, and at the appropriate intervals.
Even with the best of care, some species of fish are more prone to certain types of illness, including infections. Pet owners should be aware of the signs of potential illness and should be prepared to quickly administer the appropriate types of fish antibiotics in order to return their fish to full health and prolong their lives.
Dogs Can Get All of Exercise and Companionship They Need in the Backyard
Nearly every canine is naturally born a very social creature, and they crave interaction and attention from their owners. While some owners keep their dogs with them, at all times, others keep their dogs outside, often on a chain, or in a fenced in backyard. Isolating a dog in this way is really not good for their long-term health and well-being, and can lead to an increase in a pet’s bad behaviors such as increased barking and aggressiveness.
Only spending an hour or two with a dog each day in the backyard, or interacting with a dog only to feed it and perhaps walk it around the block, really isn’t enough time to provide all of the mental stimulation that most canines need to be happy and healthy. Pet owners that don’t have the time to fully invest in a dog and fully integrate it into their lives and household are best served by adopting pets that require less interaction and care.
My Cat is Purring so He or She Must be Happy
Most folks just assume that their cat must be happy when it’s purring, but cats also purr as a coping mechanism when they are in pain, and have even been known to purr as they are dying. In general, purring is a way for cats to comfort themselves, so a host of feelings and emotions can cause them to purr.
Snakes are Slimy and Measure their Prey Before Eating
There are a number of myths about snakes, that might put off potential pet owners. For one thing, snakes do not have slimy skin, as many mistakenly believe as their skins are normally very dry, and also fairly soft.
Another common misconception is that snakes measure their prey before they eat them. A snake’s jaws are connected by ligaments, rather than being fused together, so this does allow their mouths to expand so that they can swallow food that is larger than their heads.
They don’t “measure” their food prior to killing and eating it, however, so urban legends about pythons and other species of snakes lying beside of their owners to measure them before killing and eating them is just that, a legend or tall tale that cannot possibly be true.
Carrots are a Rabbit’s Best Friend
Thanks to a certain popular cartoon character, many pet owners mistakenly assume that carrots are the best food for their pet rabbits, but this isn’t the case. Carrots actually contain too many natural sugars to be part of bunny’s regular diet, so grass, hay, and fresh leafy greens are a better choice.
Grain and Other Concentrates Are Key Foundation of a Healthy Diet for Horses
Many horse owners automatically assume that grains like corn, and other concentrates, should form the base foundation of their diets, and that roughage from pasture grass or hay is a secondary concern and not as essential to a healthy diet. Actually, the opposite is true, as many horses are able to do just fine solely on pasture grass and hay, and at least 50% of every horse’s diet should be based on hay and pasture grass.
Hamsters and Gerbils are Basically the Same and Have the Same Needs
Both gerbils and hamsters are members of the rodent family, so they do share many characteristics, including being nocturnal, having a small size and eating similar foods, however, they do have different needs. The main difference between them is the amount of socialization that is needed to promote their health and well-being. Gerbils are very social creatures and can actually become depressed if they are left alone in their cages for too long, whereas hamsters actually prefer to be alone in their natural habitat and can have difficulty bonding with their pet owners.
There are a wide variety of animals, with different skills, abilities and needs that can make them especially suitable as companions for pet owners. Everyone should take the time to research their potential pet, and learn about its proper care, before adopting one and introducing it into one’s household.