Have you ever wondered why your beloved dog wags his tail or if your Siamese cat who is not afraid of heights has nine lives? If so, you’re in luck! Renowned veterinarian Dr. Ashley Gallagher was kind enough to join me for an interview yesterday where she discussed these common myths, discussed whether it’s ever okay for your pet to eat table scraps, shared tips on how to keep your pets healthy and fit, and much more!
Candace Rose: What are some of the most common myths and misconceptions when it comes to our pets?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “Let’s start with the old wives tale that cats have nine lives, which unfortunately is not true. I think that started because cats were always jumping or falling from high places and landing on their feet. They seemed to cheat death. Our dogs and cats only have one life and the best way for pet owners to make sure that life is as long and healthy as possible is to schedule annual wellness exams with their veterinarian. You don’t want to just be taking your dog or cat into the vet when they’re sick, you want to go in for a planned exam to make sure that they’re up to date on their vaccines, that they’re having their teeth checked, that we listen to their heart, check their joints. If they’re a little chubby we can talk about nutrition, so that’s an important point for pet owners to be aware of.”
Candace Rose: Are table scraps ever okay?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “Table scraps are not my favorite. If you look here (please see video above) we have a one ounce piece of cheese. If you feed that piece of cheese to a 10 pound cat, it’s the equivalent to a person eating three chocolate bars. Table scraps are considered empty calories and really should be avoided.
We want to be feeding our dogs and cats precisely balanced nutrition. A food like Hills Science Diet is great because it’s formulated for their specific life stage and any special needs that they have. It is precisely balanced nutrition to give them everything they need without any excess nutrients that might be harmful to them.”
Candace Rose: Some people say that dairy is okay for cats, while others say it isn’t. Is it okay?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “Some kitties are lactose intolerant, so if you feed them milk or cream or yogurt it’s going to upset their stomach just like a lactose intolerant person.”
Candace Rose: Why do dogs wag their tails?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “So dogs absolutely wag their tails when their happy which is what everyone thinks about, but there are some dogs that can wag their tails when they’re nervous or upset. The only way our dogs and cats can communicate with us is via body language and they’re actually very complex signals that they give us. They don’t have the luxury of talking to us, which would make my job a whole lot easier if they could. So pet owners really need to tune into their dog and cat and look into what they’re trying to tell them, and I think that will help people strengthen their relationship with their pets.”
Candace Rose: Are there any other myths we should know about?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “Another good one is I have a big backyard, I can just go let my dog hang out there and he’ll get all the exercise that he needs. And that’s actually not usually the case. Dogs and cats need mental and physical stimulation, so you really want to get out into that backyard with your dog, run around, throw the ball, go for a walk around the block.
I don’t love for kitties to go outside because I think it’s safer for them to stay inside, but there are plenty of things you can do to stimulate your cat. This little feeding toy (please see video above) is great, you put the food in there and the cat has to bat it around to get the food out. It’s a great way to engage your cat. They make these for dogs as well.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Dr. Ashley Gallagher: “Well, all of the tips that I talked about today are available at HillsPet.com, and people can go there for plenty of information on nutrition for their dogs and cats.”