Dogs and cats should have a litter before they are spayed. Not true. Having a litter first is of no benefit to the pet.

1. Dogs and cats should have a litter before they are spayed. Not true. Having a litter first is of no benefit to the pet. It is better for their health if they are sterilized at a younger age before their first "heat" cycle. There is a lower risk for breast cancer and uterine infections in spayed animals.

2. Pets are sick when their noses are warm. Not necessarily so. There are many factors that cause a warm, dry nose or a cool, wet one. Neither one is diagnostic of illness. To access a pet's temperature, use a rectal thermometer, well lubricated and hold for 2 minutes. Adult normal dog and cat temperatures range from 100 to 102.5 degrees.

3. The taste and flavor of foods is important to dogs and cats. Not really so. These pets have very poor taste buds and are more likely drawn to certain favored foods by using their sense of smell.

4. When ill they will let you know. Not true. Dogs and cats tend to hide the fact that they are sick. This is because they have a survival instinct that influences them to hide their illness so they will not appear vulnerable to other animals that might prey on them.

5. Table scraps are OK for my pet. Small amounts are acceptable. Table food often is not nutritionally balanced or is full of empty calories for dogs and cats. Bones can lodge in the intestine and cause serious problems. Excess fat can cause pancreatitis in pets. Some people opt to bypass commercial food and instead cook for their pets. In this case, if they provide a balanced intake, most pets thrive on this diet.

6. Dogs that are mostly indoors do not need heartworm prevention and cats do not need heartworm prevention at all. Wrong on both counts. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes, which can come inside. Cats can be afflicted by heartworm disease, even if they are inside pets. Heartworm disease is becoming more prevalent. All pets should be on prevention, especially those who spend a lot of time outdoors. Heartworm will kill your pet and is very expensive to treat.

7. Garlic prevents fleas in both dogs and cats. Garlic does not kill fleas. Garlic can be toxic and cause death, particularly for cats. Along with other alliums such as onions, garlic contains the chemical thiosulphate. This can be extremely dangerous to pets by damaging blood cells and causing anemia. Garlic may act as a natural flea repellent but should be used cautiously and only in small doses.

8. Happy dogs wag their tails and happy cats flick their tails. Not always. There are many nuances to the various tail actions that pets display. Tail wagging can mean either agitation or excitement. Aggression can be shown by a dog's twitching or wagging tail held high over the back. Cats are more likely communicating some concern or preoccupation with their tail twitches.

9. Cats have nine lives. We know this is not true and it certainly does not mean that they do not need regular checkups or health care. Cats have only one life. It is important to have annual vet visits to ensure your cat has a long, healthy and happy one.

Anne Divine is a long time member of LAWS and has volunteered at Animal Control for 18 years. She can be reached at: