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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?

People have long claimed that "a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's." Our veterinarians in Jackson discuss the proper cleanliness of your dog's mouth and emphasize the importance of avoiding contact with your dog's saliva.

Is Your Dog's Mouth Cleaner Than Yours?

Unfortunately, your dog's mouth isn't cleaner than yours. It harbors billions of bacteria, distinct from those in your mouth, but you also possess a substantial bacterial population. Fortunately, the bacteria in your dog's mouth generally remain harmless to humans as they prefer their canine hosts.

Should you detect a foul odor emanating from your dog's breath, it might indicate the presence of periodontal disease, which results from Porphyromonas bacteria. In the early stages of this condition, bacterial formation of dental plaque triggers gum inflammation.

If left unaddressed, this plaque accumulation can lead to unpleasant breath, receding gums, tooth root abscesses, and the deterioration of bone surrounding the tooth roots. Timely professional dental care is essential to prevent these issues in your dog.

Can You Get Infections and Diseases From Dog Saliva?

While the risk remains low, dogs can potentially transmit bacterial and viral infections through their saliva. This transmission may occur when a dog bites, allowing saliva to enter the wound, or if dog saliva comes into contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Bacterial Infections

If a dog has bitten someone, the wound typically contains Pasteurella Canis, the most common bacterium. Unfortunately, Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, a bacterium present in dog saliva, can also lead to a severe bacterial infection in humans. The severity of the bite and its location, along with the individual's overall health, determine the extent of the injury.

If you've experienced a dog bite, it's crucial to immediately cleanse the affected area with soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Following thorough cleaning, seeking medical attention is vital as the wound can swiftly become infected.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that dogs, whether on a raw food diet or not, may carry E. Coli bacteria. These pathogens can potentially be transmitted to humans through the dog's saliva, resulting in an infection.

Rabies (Viral Infection)

The rabies virus poses a significant concern when a dog bite occurs. This virus constitutes a severe infection that dogs can transmit through their saliva.

When a dog contracts the rabies virus, it actively progresses through the nervous system, ultimately reaching the brain. Observable symptoms in an infected dog include anxiety, aggressiveness, disorientation, and seizures. In later stages, affected dogs may exhibit sudden and unprovoked attacks toward people, animals, and objects.

It becomes imperative to promptly reach out to your local police or wildlife services upon identifying any animal displaying these symptoms. Once symptoms manifest in an animal, the outcome is typically fatal.

Is Dog Saliva Bad For Your Skin?

Dog saliva poses the highest risk of infection when open wounds are present, as bacteria must enter through broken skin.

Allergies can also be a concern for some individuals. For those with dog allergies, this can extend to the saliva of certain dogs. Common symptoms of a dog saliva allergy may include experiencing hives, developing a rash, or becoming intensely itchy.

Individuals with underlying health conditions should avoid any contact with dog saliva.

If you are allergic or have an underlying health condition, it is crucial to steer clear of any contact with your dog's saliva. While training your dog not to lick can be challenging, it is achievable through consistent training and positive reinforcement.

In case you have any open wounds, make sure to keep them clean and covered, and ensure that your dog does not come into contact with your injury.

Why should I brush my dog's teeth?

Estimates suggest that periodontitis affects more than two-thirds of dogs aged three and older, causing inflammation or infection in the tissues that surround their teeth. This condition begins with gingivitis, triggered by plaque buildup, and frequently advances to affect the bony tooth sockets. If left unattended, periodontal disease can result in the painful loss of teeth.

How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth & Mouth

There are many ways you can help your dog keep a clean mouth, such as: 
  • 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
  • The vet prescribed a 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 checkup? Contact your Jackson vet to schedule your dog for a dental exam and cleaning.

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North Madison Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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