It is not surprising that you come across people trying to medicate themselves and their pets with old remedies. Case in point: I went in on a new puppy exam with a pit bull x pup. The owner was nice enough, but a little clueless. I spent a good amount of the time trying to convince them that they needed to neuter this dog. He is going to be huge, dominant and they have small kids in the house. That, of course, is ignoring the fact that this is precisely the kind of dog these people should not have. And I'll be honest...I was actually pleading with these people to neuter this dog.
But that's not the main reason I'm telling you about this dog. While I was looking over his patchy vaccination history, I noticed that he had never been dewormed, and the owner had not brought in a fecal sample to check for parasites. Since intestinal parasites are so common in puppies and there were small children in the household, I told the owners that we should probably go ahead and deworm him anyway.
"Oh, no, he doesn't have worms," the owner informed me.
"Really?" I asked. "Did he have a fecal sample checked for them?"
"Oh, no," the owner repeated. "We offering him some chew and, since he didn't want any, that means he doesn't have worms."
Now for a history lesson: back in the day, some people used chewing tobacco to deworm dogs. The idea is that the nicotine in the tobacco paralyzes the worms so they let go of the GI tract to be defecated out. Where I had heard this, I have no idea, but I'm glad I had that random piece of trivia in my mind so I didn't freeze and give the owner a completely blank look. I had to then convince them that screening with chewing tobacco is not a very accurate way of looking for internal parasites.
So they left a half hour later after appropriate vaccinations and deworming medication had been given, and with at least the thought they they may neuter this dog. I'm not sure if I did the world any good in this case, but at least they won't be trying to feed the dog chewing tobacco. I hope.....