For years, the old myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s have circulated. But is this really true?
The idea may have originally come from the fact that there were studies showing that human bites have a higher chance of becoming infected than most animal bites, including those caused by dogs. While contemporary scientists are not sure where this information came into contact with the public, they are all in agreement that it is simply untrue. Modern studies about infection rates in animal bites show that it is pretty even across the board as to whether or not a bite from a human or dog will become infected.
Another potential source for the belief that dogs have cleaner mouths is that dogs lick their wounds when they are injured. This may have led people to believe that dog saliva is healthy or has healing properties. While it is not true that dog saliva has any sort of antiseptic or healing qualities, the act of licking the wound does promote healing. When a dog licks an injury, its tongue removes any dead tissue from the site, speeding the healing process along.
We have all seen our dogs at home or outside. Dogs use their tongues to bathe themselves as well as a replacement for toilet paper. You may be asking yourself “how can their mouths possibly be cleaner than ours?” Simple, they can’t.
Dogs and humans use their mouths for very different things and have differences in hygiene. This means that dogs and humans have very different bacteria in their mouths. Comparing the bacteria present in the mouth of a human to that which thrives in the mouths of dogs is like comparing apples to oranges. Humans may have one species of microbes in our mouths that causes gingivitis and dogs may have one that is entirely different.
Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from dental problems and diseases that may result in needed cleanings, surgeries or tooth removal. This would certainly not be the case if there were no bacteria present in the mouth of a dog.
It should also be noted here that there are a wide variety of dog toothbrushes and toothpastes that are available at any pet supply store in your area. While brushing your dog’s teeth may not be required for his immediate health or happiness, it certainly is a good idea and good preventative maintenance to avoid your pet from having to suffer from any of the variety of mouth diseases a dog can have.
Because humans and dogs have such different bacteria living in their mouths, there are very few diseases that can be transmitted from dog to human via saliva. While a licking dog may be obnoxious, you probably have little to worry about in the way of health. You are far more likely to get sick from kissing one of your two legged friends than from kissing your pet, though it still is a little gross to think about!
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