Do Dogs Have Clean Mouths? Examining the Myths and Facts


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Dogs have been dubbed man’s best friend for centuries, and it’s no surprise that they are one of the most beloved pets in the world. However, there is a common myth that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans. This belief has been passed down from generation to generation, and many people still believe it to be true. But is there any truth to this claim?

A dog with its mouth open, showing clean teeth and pink gums

The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. While it’s true that dogs have bacteria in their mouths just like humans do, the types of bacteria are different. According to the American Kennel Club, “Dogs have more than 600 different bacteria in their mouths, while humans have around 615.” [1] However, it’s important to note that just because dogs have different bacteria in their mouths doesn’t necessarily mean that their mouths are cleaner than humans’. In fact, dogs can have harmful bacteria in their mouths that can cause infections in both humans and other animals.

Comparing Canine and Human Oral Health

When it comes to oral health, humans and dogs are quite different. While there are some similarities between the two, there are also some significant differences that set them apart. Here is a closer look at how canine and human oral health compare.

Bacterial Composition in Dog and Human Mouths

Both human and dog mouths contain hundreds of different types of bacteria. However, the types of bacteria found in each are different. According to a study by the American Society for Microbiology, the oral microbiome of dogs is more diverse than that of humans. Dogs have a higher number of anaerobic bacteria, which thrive in low oxygen environments, while humans have a higher number of aerobic bacteria, which require oxygen to survive.

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Common Oral Diseases in Dogs and Humans

Periodontal disease is one of the most common oral diseases in both dogs and humans. It is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can lead to gum inflammation and infection. Dogs are also prone to developing dental disease, which can cause cavities and tooth decay.

In humans, a type of bacteria called P. gingivalis has been linked to periodontal disease. While this bacteria has been found in dogs as well, a different bacteria called P. gulae is more commonly associated with periodontal disease in dogs.

Overall, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene in both dogs and humans to prevent the development of oral diseases. Regular brushing and dental checkups can help keep teeth and gums healthy.

The Myth of Dog’s Mouth Cleanliness

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve probably heard the myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth. However, this is simply not true. In fact, a dog’s mouth can harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections in humans. In this section, we will debunk the myth of dog’s mouth cleanliness and explore the potential health risks associated with dog saliva.

Debunking the Clean Mouth Myth

Contrary to popular belief, a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s mouth. In fact, dogs use their mouths to explore the world around them, often picking up all sorts of germs and bacteria. While some bacteria are harmless, others can be harmful to humans. Additionally, dogs have a different microbiome than humans, which means that the bacteria in a dog’s mouth may not be beneficial to humans.

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Furthermore, while some dogs may have antibacterial properties in their saliva, this does not mean that their mouths are cleaner than a human’s mouth. In fact, even if a dog’s saliva does have antibacterial properties, it may not be effective against all types of harmful bacteria.

Potential Health Risks from Dog Saliva

There are several potential health risks associated with dog saliva. For example, dogs can carry harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Pasteurella in their mouths, which can cause infections in humans. Additionally, dogs can transmit diseases such as rabies to humans through their saliva.

One specific bacteria that can be found in a dog’s mouth is Capnocytophaga canimorsus. While this bacteria is usually harmless to dogs, it can cause severe infections in humans, especially those who are immunocompromised or have an open wound. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Capnocytophaga canimorsus is a bacteria commonly found in dogs and cats. Most people who have contact with dogs and cats do not become sick from this bacteria. However, people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from Capnocytophaga canimorsus.”

In conclusion, the myth that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth is simply not true. While some dogs may have antibacterial properties in their saliva, this does not mean that their mouths are cleaner than a human’s mouth. It is important to practice good hygiene and avoid contact with dog saliva, especially if you are immunocompromised or have an open wound.

Best Practices for Dog Oral Care

Taking care of your dog’s oral health is important for their overall well-being. A healthy mouth can prevent infections and diseases that can spread to other parts of their body. Here are some best practices for maintaining your dog’s dental health.

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Daily Oral Hygiene for Dogs

Daily oral hygiene is the best way to prevent dental problems in dogs. Brushing your dog’s teeth is the most effective way to remove plaque and tartar buildup. You can use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for dogs. Human toothpaste is not recommended as it can be harmful to dogs.

If your dog is not used to having their teeth brushed, start slowly and gradually increase the time and frequency of brushing. You can also use a finger brush or dental wipes to clean their teeth.

Dental chews and treats can also help keep your dog’s teeth clean. Look for products that are specifically designed to improve dental health and reduce tartar buildup. Avoid giving your dog bones, as they can damage their teeth and cause choking.

Professional Dental Treatments

Regular visits to the veterinarian for professional dental cleanings can also help maintain your dog’s oral health. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian will remove any plaque or tartar buildup and check for any signs of dental disease. They may also recommend dental X-rays to check for any underlying issues.

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a dental water additive or prescription dental diet to help maintain your dog’s dental health. These products can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup and promote healthy teeth and gums.

By following these best practices for dog oral care, you can help keep your furry friend’s teeth and gums healthy and prevent dental problems. Remember to consult with your veterinarian for any concerns or questions about your dog’s dental health.



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