Myth-Busting: Pet Dangers

Veterinarian Marty Becker separates fact from fiction for furry friends.

June 14, 2010, 10:45 AM

Aug. 26, 2010 -- Can chocolate really kill your dog? If your dog chomps down on poinsettias, is it going to be OK?

From old wives tales to internet-based scares, pet owners often find themselves in a fog of half-truths and outright lies when it comes to keeping their animals safe.

Luckily, "America's Veterinarian" Marty Becker dropped by "Good Morning America" today to do a little myth-busting.

Thanks to the Humane Society of New York, two lovable pets, Romeo and Pringles, joined Becker today on "GMA." CLICK HERE to learn more about the Humane Society of New York and how to adopt a pet.

Web Extra: CLICK HERE for some more surprising pet dangers that could be in your home.

Many pet owners think that just one bite of chocolate kill your dog, but the truth is, a large dog would have to eat a lot of milk chocolate to get sick -- more than a couple of pounds.

But even though chocolate is not necessarily deadly, that doesn't mean you should give it out as treats.

"The rule of thumb is, the darker the chocolate, and the smaller the dog, the more dangerous it is," Becker said.

This rumor, which was spread mostly by email, said the chemicals in Swiffer Wet Jet and Febreze could get on the paws of your pet and then become ingested when they lick their paws. The rumor also said that the products contained anti-freeze.

But the truth is neither products are harmful for your furry friend.

The emails circulated so widely that the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals looked into the claim and found them perfectly safe.

Especially around the holidays, pet owners are concerned that animals that decide to make a snack out of the festive poinsettias could be eating a deadly plant.

But Becker said that the plant is far from deadly, but could give your pet an upset stomach.

A few years ago some massive recalls of dog and cat food gave pet owners reason to be suspicious of some pet foods. The recurrent outbreak of salmonella in human food recently certainly hasn't helped to ease fears.

But according to Becker, pet food is safe for pets as long as normal precautions are used. Just be sure to keep the area around the food clean and wash your hands thoroughly after feeding your pets.

Non-Stick Cookware is Deadly for Birds: Truth

The cookware is safe at lower temperatures, but Becker said that when they are overheated, the coating can emit fumes that can kill pet birds. When exactly the pans become lethal is difficult to tell, but veterinarians suggest not keeping birds in the kitchen and not using non-stick cookware around them.

Becker said that you don't want to have any of these flowers in your garden -- they can be toxic and can even kill if your pets get into them.

Xylitol is a popular sugar substitute that is used in many products from gum to candy and can be harmful.

"It doesn't take much to kill a pet, so be sure not to leave gum and candies anywhere your pet can get at it," Becker said.

Becker said that pet owners tend to be casual about the use of tick and flea products, but often forget that something that kills small animals can hurt big ones too.

The biggest danger is not following labeled directions exactly -- especially when it comes to not using dog products on cats.

Before using a flea or tick product, you may want to ask your veterinarian what works best for your animal.

Web Extra: Which Safety Issue is Critical? Which One Can You Worry Less Over?

Here are a few extra tips from Dr. Marty Becker:

You Can Worry a Bit Less About ...

... And Worry More About:

CLICK HERE to learn more about pet care at Marty Becker's website,

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.