Dogs vs. Humans: Debunking the Myth about Clean Mouths

You’ve probably heard the age-old saying that “a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth.” It’s a statement that has been widely accepted, but have you ever wondered if there’s any truth to it? The answer might surprise you.

Comparing Apples and Oranges

According to Colin Harvey, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, comparing a dog’s mouth to a human’s mouth is like comparing apples and oranges. Both mouths are teeming with microbes, but they differ in the types of bacteria they harbor.

For instance, dogs have a particular type of bacteria called P. gulae, which can cause periodontal disease in them. On the other hand, humans have P. gingivalis, a similar bacteria that affects our dental health. While both bacteria are considered “dirty,” there are significant differences between the two.

Can Humans Get Dog Germs?

The notion that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth might have gained popularity because we don’t typically contract diseases from dogs when we share saliva. However, it’s important to note that most of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth are not transferable to humans.

While there are exceptions, such as dogs who consume raw diets and are at risk of spreading salmonella, the overall risk of contracting a disease from a dog’s mouth is low. So, while kissing your furry friend might be less risky than kissing another human, it doesn’t mean that their mouth is necessarily cleaner.

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The Healing Power of Dog Saliva

Moving on to another age-old belief: does dog saliva help heal wounds? Licking wounds is a natural instinct for many mammals, including humans. Ancient cultures even used dog saliva in their healing practices, believing it had curative powers.

The act of licking offers benefits such as removing dirt and debris from the wound site, reducing the risk of infection. Additionally, saliva contains proteins called histatins that can ward off infection. Research has even shown that licked wounds tend to heal faster than unlicked wounds.

However, it’s essential to exercise caution. Saliva also carries bacteria like Pastuerella, which can cause serious infections when introduced to an open wound. Excessive licking can also lead to self-mutilation and further complications. Therefore, it’s advisable to stick to conventional wound care methods.

Don’t Forget Oral Hygiene

While the debate about the cleanliness of dog mouths compared to human mouths is interesting, it’s essential to remember the importance of oral hygiene for both. Both dogs and humans are susceptible to dental diseases and can benefit from regular brushing and dental cleanings.

Starting dental care early with your dog is crucial. Training them to enjoy tooth brushing and using toothpaste specifically designed for dogs will help maintain their oral health. Good oral hygiene practices, like brushing and regular check-ups, are vital for both humans and dogs to keep harmful bacteria at bay.

So, while your dog’s mouth might not be cleaner than yours, taking care of their oral hygiene will ensure their mouth stays healthy. And remember, those wet, sloppy dog kisses will be much more enjoyable when you know their mouth is in good shape.

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Dog's Mouth
Caption: A happy dog with a healthy mouth.

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