Some old ways and myths busted

September 15, 2016

This week I was talking to a client about the “choker chain” collar for dogs and it got me thinking about all the ‘old’ ideas I used to have so I thought that this would make an interesting blog.

1. The old-fashioned choker chain is (hopefully) universally now known to be a very bad training aid. The idea is to put pressure with a narrow chain over the windpipe by causing a slip noose effect, with pressure also exerted on the jugular veins and even carotid arteries of the neck. So the basic idea is to give the dog a VERY bad experience. Try having someone place pressure over your windpipe (i.e. strangling you) and you get the picture. This type of ‘restraint’ is very uncomfortable, potentially extremely damaging for necks; can cause blindness and has overwhelmingly negative connotations to the dog. With all the new knowledge, training methods and harness-style restraints now available, choker collars should be relegated to the garbage bin.

2. A myth busted – breeding with a nervous, neurotic wonder dog (aka my beautiful pedigree border collie) does NOT make the dog a ‘better’ dog. It just breeds on nervous, neurotic puppies. So my lovely dog is spayed (puppy-less) and we’ve done lots of behavioural training to reduce her anxiety.

3. In the pussy cat world, the elastic collar with bell used to be all the rage. Unfortunately, too many cats manage to put their front leg through the collar and ended up with a nasty wound in their armpit. Some of these wounds never heal and require special surgery to try and repair the damage. Even worse, cats can end up hanging from trees with these elastic collars and strangle themselves. So its elastic collars OUT and Rogz, quick-release collars IN. These fab and trendy collars have three different levels at which they break open depending on the weight of the cat. So you may lose the collar, but your cat will be fine. My experience is that cats will lose at least 1-2 of these collars, which just goes to show what risk-demons they are! And an added note here – bells do not generally save birds etc from cats. I have known cats with five bells on their collars who still effortlessly catch their prey. Cats are not known as perfect predators for nothing.

4. And still on cats, and a great trivia night fact, cats are not nocturnal, they are actually crepuscular. This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk (and will often happily sleep through the night). So if you’re trying to stop cat fights with your moggy – keep them in when the sun is going down or coming up.

5. Now to the pocket pet world. Rabbits are NOT meant to eat ‘special’ muesli or pellets. More than 20 per cent of these fast foods in their diet can lead to obesity and serious tooth problems – and just so you know, tooth issues in bunnies often present as conjunctivitis (inflamed eye or eyes). This is because the tear duct in bunnies runs very close to their tooth roots. So if they have a tooth infection, they’ll often get pus in their eye as the infection tracks back through the tear duct. So what DO bunnies need? Lots of fresh veggies and hay. Grass is generally fine, fruit is a treat.

6. And finally, horses – more specifically, shoes and horses. Used to go together like Bonnie and Clyde, the birds and bees, etc etc. Now we know there are definitely times where ‘barefoot’ is the way to go. Shoes can cause all sorts of issues if put on badly or left on too long. The old adage ‘no hoof, no horse’ is so true. I’m not saying shoes should never be used, but I have seen many problems caused by shoes – whether by poor application or not used in the right situation. Just something to think about I guess…..

I know that there are lots of other old fashioned remedies or ideas which have now been discontinued or debunked.

But, playing devil’s advocate, there are still some tried and true ones which can apply today – such as Manuka honey, which is great.

Probably, like everything, what is required is some knowledge mixed together with experience and a healthy dose of common sense … possibly NOT always found on Google.

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