The mouth of a canine is rumored to be sanitary, but are dog’s mouths cleaner than humans?
Even with regular dental care, a dog still uses their mouth to clean their butt or to eat the contents of your bathroom trash bin. With all the nasty things dogs get into it’s no surprise that scientists have found over 615 different species of bacteria in the mouth. At the same time, compared to people, dogs rarely seem to get sick. Are dog’s mouths cleaner than humans? Does canine saliva have antibacterial properties that help them stay healthy?
Research on the healing properties of dog saliva goes back to ancient times.
Ancient Egyptians believed in the healing power of dogs and their saliva. The Greeks also followed similar traditions by setting up temples for people to come and be licked by dogs. They strongly believed that dog licks promoted the healing of wounds and other illness. The healing powers of a dog’s lick is still a common wive’s tail, and a lot more research has been done to figure out whether or not it’s true.
Saliva is teeming with germs, but scientists have discovered a few reasons why dog saliva still has the potential to heal:
- Histatins: Proteins found in the saliva that help stimulate the growth of new skin cells over the wound while also fighting off infection.
- Lysozyme: The level of this enzyme varies by breed, but its function is to destroy existing bacteria while inhibiting new bacteria from growing.
- Low p.h.: A dog’s saliva is less acidic than humans which helps prevent cavities by fighting against acid erosion. The downside to low p.h. is mineral accumulation due to the presence of calcium and other minerals in the saliva. It’s essential to maintain dental care to reduce buildup. Excessive mineral accumulation can trap bacteria and increase the risk of cavities and infection, which can be lead to serious health issues, or even death, if left untreated.
While our ancestors believed in letting dogs treat their ailments, the use of Neosporin is a much safer way to heal your cuts and scrapes. All dog mouths are not created equal. You could be doing more harm than good by introducing their bacteria to your wounds. It’s best to leave the healing to a medical professional.
Dog saliva has healing proteins and antibacterial enzymes, but that’s not all.
You won’t catch the kissing flu from your dog, but you do run the risk of swapping bacteria, or even parasites. Children or anyone with a weakened immune system is at higher risk for getting sick. It’s necessary to provide your dog with parasitic preventatives and a regular dental routine to minimize the spread of these illnesses. If you notice diarrhea, stomach cramps, vomiting or lethargy in you or your dog, you should call your doctor right away.
- Giardia is a common waterborne infection that’s spread through contaminated water or feces. If your dog eats his feces, then gives you a slobbery kiss, you could also get sick.
- Parasites are preventable but are transmittable from dog to human. Parasitic eggs spread through fecal matter and also saliva since a dog uses their mouth to keep themselves clean.
- Bacterial infections such as E. coli and Salmonella can make you and your dog very sick. Raw meats, raw dog foods or recalled dog food can all increase the risk of illness. You can ensure your pet food is safe by checking the FDA pet food recall list periodically.
So, are dog’s mouths cleaner than humans or not?
It’s not a matter of asking “Are dog’s mouths cleaner than humans?” because there is no yes or no answer. Some humans are more particular about their dental habits, and some pet owners take more care than others. If you welcome kisses from your canine companion, you need to consider the risks. If not, you could end up very sick.
- Do you bring your dog for yearly parasite checks?
- Is your dog on parasite prevention medication?
- How often do you brush their teeth?
- Is their diet safe and free from raw meats?
- Do they frequently snack on trash, feces, or other unpleasant objects?
- Do you clean up and dispose of their fecal matter daily?
Some dog owners welcome sloppy kisses while others cringe at the thought of coming into contact with their drool. Let us know what you think in the comments.
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