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Is a Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human’s Mouth?

Is a Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human’s Mouth?

Most people have heard the saying, "a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's." In this post, our Babcock Ranch vets talk about how clean your dog's mouth really is and why you should avoid your dog's saliva. 

Is Your Dog's Mouth Cleaner Than Yours?

In short: no, your dog's mouth is not cleaner than that of a human. The average dog's mouth contains billions of bacteria that are entirely different from the bacteria of a human mouth.

If you notice that your dog's breath is extra smelly lately, it could be a sign of periodontal disease which is caused by Porphyromonas bacteria. Inflammation of the gums and mouth should be obvious in the early stages of periodontal disease as a result of plaque buildup.

This plaque buildup will eventually lead to bad breath, gum recession, tooth root abscesses, and the destruction of bone around the tooth roots unless your dog receives professional dental care. 

Can You Get Infections and Diseases From Dog Saliva?

Although the risk is low, it is possible for dogs to transmit bacterial and viral infections through their saliva. This transmission could happen if a dog bites you due to the saliva entering the wound or if dog saliva were to enter your eyes, nose, or mouth. 
Bacterial Infections
When a person is bitten by a dog, they are unfortunately at risk of a serious bacterial infection due to a bacteria in dog saliva called Capnocytophaga Canimorsus. The severity of the wound depends on how bad the bite is and where you were bitten as well as the overall state of the bitten person's health.

If you have been bitten by a dog you should wash the area with soap and water immediately and for no less than 15 minutes. After you have thoroughly cleaned the area it is important to seek medical attention as the wound could quickly become infected. 

It is also possible that the dog may be carrying E. Coli bacteria whether the dog eats a raw food diet or not. These pathogens could pass through your dog's saliva and infect you. 
Rabies (Viral Infection)

The rabies virus is a serious concern when you have been bitten by a dog. It is a very serious infection that dog's also pass through their saliva. 

When a dog is infected with rabies, the virus will travel through the bloodstream, to the spinal cord, and eventually the brain. The symptoms of rabies in dogs include:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Aggression
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Death
Dogs in the later stages of the rabies infection may attack people or other animal. In this case, their bites are highly infectious if they break the skin or if their saliva reaches the membrane (gums, eyes) of the creature they're biting. It is important to contact your local police or wildlife services if you notice any animal with these symptoms. Once an animal begins to develop symptoms it is usually fatal. 

Is Dog Saliva Bad For Your Skin?

The highest risk of infection from dog saliva is if you have any open wounds as bacteria need to enter through broken skin. 

Another concern for some might be allergies. For many people suffering from an allergy to dogs, this can include the saliva of some dogs. Typical symptoms of an allergy to dog saliva might be hives, developing a rash, and/or becoming very itchy.

Those with underlying health conditions should avoid all contact with dog saliva. 

If you are allergic or living with an underlying health condition, it is important that you avoid all contact with your dog's saliva. Training your dog to not lick can be difficult but it is possible through consistent training and positive reinforcement, 

If you have any open wounds be sure to keep them clean and covered and ensure that your dog does not have any contact with your injury, 

How to Keep Your Dog's Mouth Clean

  • Brush your dog's teeth at least 3 times a week
  • Add dental powder to your dog's meals
  • Use dental additives in your dog's water
  • Vet prescribed dental focused diet
  • Provide your dog with certified dental treats
  • Maintain regular dental cleanings and exams from your vet

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog in need of a dental appointment? Contact your Babcock Ranch vet to schedule your dog for a dental exam and cleaning.

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Animal Hospital at Babcock is welcoming new patients. Our team provides compassionate care to you and your animal companions. Book your appointment today!


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