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Is a Dogs Mouth Really Clean?

dog mouth bacteriaMany dog lovers will tell you that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth, especially when their dog is licking their face or if they are sharing food. I am a dog lover, but I can tell you that this is not true.

Your dog’s mouth is full of microbes and bacteria. Though there are some bacteria that you will find in both a human and a dog’s mouth, your dog’s mouth is a host to a bunch of dental bacteria that you will not find in your own mouth. Dogs have more than 600 different types of bacteria in their mouth. There are 615 in a human mouth. These numbers don’t include the bacteria that humans and dogs pick up from our environment. Just think about your dog eating poop and the bacteria coming from that…or you may not want to think about that.  So if you consider 15 bacteria less to be significantly cleaner, then you are still wrong, because the bacteria is not the same.

The myth of the clean dog mouth originates because humans and dog’s don’t typically swap diseases with each other through saliva. You are not going to catch the flu from your dog. Most of the bacteria in your dog’s mouth cannot be spread to humans, though if you feed your dog a raw food diet they are at an increased risk of salmonella, which can be spread to humans.  In general think of your dog’s mouth bacteria as an incompatible date. Most of the bacteria can’t affect you, but that does not mean all of it can’t.

Another reason this myth persists is that it is believed that saliva has healing properties. This is true. There are proteins in saliva called histatins that can prevent infection, as long as your dog isn’t constantly licking and causing a hot spot. There is evidence that suggests a licked wound heals twice as fast as an unlicked wound. Our own saliva has shown the same properties. But just because they can help heal their wound doesn’t mean they can help heal yours. In fact, there are some bacteria that may be present in your dog’s mouth that could cause an infection in an open wound.

The biggest issue with the clean mouth myth is that most dog’s do not have good oral hygiene. As a dog owner, you should brush your dog’s teeth multiple times a week and bring them into Vetco for an annual dental cleaning to get rid of the plaque buildup. Regular cleanings help prevent periodontal disease, tooth loss, and bad breath. If your dog has good dental hygiene it is easier to accept those wet dog kisses and a little bit more hygenic…but only by 15 bacteria.

 

 

 

 

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The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.