Are Dogs Mouths Cleaner Than Humans?

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The health of humans and dogs is intertwined, and this includes the health of our mouths. Despite the popular notion that dogs’ mouths are “cleaner” than humans’ mouths, this is not necessarily true. In a certain sense, you could say that dogs’ mouths may be “cleaner” in that they contain fewer diseases and bacteria, however, their mouths do contain harmful bacteria. In addition, dogs often have poor oral hygiene and are not always given routine dental care like humans, which can lead to a buildup of bacteria and even plaque. Ultimately, the answer to the question “Are dogs’ mouths cleaner than humans’?” is far from absolute.

Are Dogs Mouths Cleaner Than Humans?

The idea that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s is an old wives’ tale. While many people may swear up and down that a dog’s mouth is cleaner, scientific studies have found that this is not the case. In fact, both humans and dogs have similar amounts of oral bacteria, making them equally clean or equally unclean.

For years, it was thought that a dog’s saliva was able to kill any harmful bacteria that may have been found in its mouth. While this could be partially true, recent studies have examined the bacteria found in both human and canine mouths and found that they are surprisingly similar. The only major difference is that dogs tend to have larger amounts of Streptococcaceae, a genus of bacteria that is often linked to bad breath, as well as Lactobacillus species, which are beneficial bacteria.

So, while a dog’s saliva may have some antibacterial properties, it’s not enough to be classified as “cleaner” compared to a human’s mouth. Moreover, a dog’s mouth can actually contain higher levels of bacteria than a human’s, particularly if they aren’t given regular dental care and are allowed to roam around outside (where they may pick up more bacteria).

All in all, it’s likely that a dog’s mouth is just as clean, or just as dirty, as a human’s mouth. The myth that dogs have cleaner mouths likely stems from the fact that many dog owners often give their pets food and treats that contain more natural additives than human snacks, as well as the fact that they may be less likely to store food in their mouths (which can spread bacteria). In any case, both humans and dogs should take proper care of their teeth and gums through regular brushing and flossing in order to keep their mouths healthy and clean.

Bacteria in Dog and Human Mouths

Bacteria in both dog and human mouths is largely composed of commensal bacteria. This includes species found in the genera Streptococcus, Actinomyces, Veillonella, and Fusobacterium. Additionally, there are some shared species between humans and dogs that are part of the normal oral biome, such as Neisseria, Prevotella, and Porphyromonas. However, there are significant differences between the bacterial species found in the mouths of humans and dogs, as dogs are more likely to have an overabundance of certain species of bacteria, including Capnocytophaga and Selenomonas.

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All in all, the bacterial composition of a canine mouth is more diverse than a human one. This is because of the different dietary habits and environmental exposure of the two species. For example, dogs are more likely to consume foods that contain higher amounts of bacteria, such as raw meat or unprocessed plant matter, and are more likely to come into contact with dirt and other pathogens through their direct contact with the environment.

How Important Is a Dog’s Oral Hygiene?

A dog’s oral hygiene is extremely important for its overall health. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a wide range of issues such as bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and even systemic infections. Regular brushing, professional dental cleanings, and oral health care products are all essential to keeping your dog’s mouth healthy and free from infection. Not only does keeping your dog’s mouth clean keep them feeling their best, but it can also prevent other health issues from arising. Keeping your dog’s mouth healthy is an important part of proper preventative pet care and can help to extend their life.

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Keeping your dog’s mouth clean is an important part of maintaining their health. Here are some tips on how to keep your dog’s mouth clean and healthy:

  1. Brush Your Dog’s Teeth: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective way to keep their mouth clean and free of plaque and tartar. It’s best to brush your dog’s teeth daily, but even brushing them a few times a week can help keep their mouth clean. Be sure to use canine-specific toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Give Them Dental Chews: Tough, edible dental chews are a great way to help keep your dog’s teeth clean in between brushing. The chews help scrape off plaque and tartar, and they often come in flavors your pup will love.
  3. Provide a Balanced Diet: Feed your pet a balanced diet that is specifically designed for the age and size of your dog. Many pet foods contain enzymes and minerals that help to keep your pup’s mouth clean.
  4. Regular Veterinary Checkups: Have your pup’s teeth checked at least once a year by their veterinarian. This allows your vet to catch any dental issues before they become a bigger problem.

By following these simple steps, you can help keep your dog’s mouth clean and healthy. This will help prevent bad breath, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

What Diseases Can You Get from Dog Saliva?

There are a few zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) that can be spread through the saliva of dogs. These include:

  • Rabies: Rabies is a deadly virus that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal, usually via a bite or scratch. Symptoms of rabies in humans can include fever, headaches, muscle spasms, and paralysis. If left untreated, it can eventually be fatal. It is important to get timely post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you have been bitten or scratched by an animal suspected of having rabies, even if the animal is a pet.
  • Giardia: Giardia is a type of single-celled parasite that can spread through contaminated water, food, or an animal’s saliva. The infection typically causes gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea.
  • Salmonella: Salmonella is a type of bacterial infection that is spread through the saliva, feces, and urine of infected animals, including dogs. It can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. In rare cases, it can even cause life-threatening complications.
  • Capnocytophaga: Capnocytophaga is a type of bacteria that can be found in the saliva of dogs and cats. It can cause severe fever, chills, and abdominal pain in humans, and even be life-threatening for people with weakened immune systems.
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It is important to always practice good hygiene, especially when dealing with animals, in order to reduce the chances of contracting a disease from animal saliva. Additionally, it is advisable to speak with your veterinarian about the risks of saliva exposure and determine the most appropriate preventative measures.

How to Keep Your Dog From Licking You

  • Distract Them: You can distract your dog from licking you by diverting his attention somewhere else. Offer him a favored treat or toy like a bone or puzzle game, and use the treat or toy to encourage their attention and focus on something other than licking you.
  • Train Them: Work on rewarding your dog for not licking you and providing alternate behaviors instead. Training your dog to sit, stay, or come when you ask them can help you increase the amount of control you have over your dog and reduce their licking behavior.
  • Identify the Cause: If your dog is licking you excessively, it’s important to try to identify the cause of the behavior. Licking can be a sign of anxiety, over-excitement, boredom, pain, or a medical issue. Once you’ve identified the cause, you can work on addressing it and implementing strategies to help reduce their licking behavior.
  • Establish Boundaries: You can establish boundaries by setting rules and teaching your dog that licking you is not allowed. Place a hand on your dog’s snout and give them a verbal command to “stop” or “no” every time they lick you. After your dog stops licking, you can reward them for not licking you with a treat.
  • Provide Alternatives: Give your dog a designated toy or other item to lick instead. This will help to redirect their attention away from themselves and onto the toy. It’s also important to make sure that the toy is safe and non-toxic to avoid potential health risks.
  • Use Deterrents: If your dog loves the taste of your skin, you can use deterrents like aversive taste deterrents or bad-tasting sprays that will discourage your dog from licking you in the future. Just make sure to avoid any sprays that contain ingredients that might be harmful to your pet.

How to Reduce Your Dog’s Risk of Disease

  1. Provide Proper Nutrition: Proper nutrition plays an important role in helping keep your dog healthy. Make sure that your dog is getting all the necessary nutrients from a balanced diet that is appropriate for its age, breed, and lifestyle. Avoid giving them treats of human foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar as they can cause weight gain, digestive issues, and other health problems.
  2. Practice Good Hygiene: Hygiene is an important part of reducing your dog’s risk of disease. Regular baths help to keep your pet’s coat and skin in good condition and rid them of parasites and bacteria. Brushing your dog’s teeth should also be done regularly in order to reduce the risk of poor dental health.
  3. Exercise Regularly: Exercise helps to keep your dog’s physical and mental health in peak condition. Regular walks run, and play sessions will help to keep their muscles toned and their minds active and alert.
  4. Visit the Vet: Visiting your veterinarian is important to keep tabs on your dog’s overall health. Regular checkups and vaccinations are essential to prevent illnesses such as parvovirus, distemper, and rabies.
  5. Prevent Parasites: Parasites such as fleas, ticks, and heartworms are common in dogs and can cause disease and irritation. Use regular preventative measures such as flea and tick preventives, as well as medication for heartworm prevention, to reduce the risk of parasites.
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Q. Can You Get Infections and Diseases From Dog Saliva?

A. Yes, it is possible to get infections and diseases from dog saliva, including rabies, brucellosis, campylobacteriosis, and leptospirosis.

Q. Is it Bad If Your Dog Licks You Then?

A. No, it is generally not bad if your dog licks you. Dog licking is a sign of affection and greeting and is an acceptable way for dogs to show love and attention to their owners.

Q. Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

A. Yes, you should brush your dog’s teeth regularly, at least once a week, to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

Q. Is Dog Saliva Bad For Your Skin?

A. No, dog saliva is not generally bad for your skin. In fact, some experts suggest that it has beneficial properties such as disinfectant and wound healing that can be beneficial to your skin.

Q. Is Dog Saliva Harmful to Babies?

A. No, dog saliva is not generally considered harmful to babies. In most cases, a baby’s exposure to dog saliva is considered to be harmless. However, parents should still practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

Q. Is the Bacteria in a Dog’s Mouth Harmful?

A. Yes, the bacteria in a dog’s mouth can be harmful to humans.


In conclusion, it appears that dogs’ mouths are not necessarily cleaner than those of humans. They do possess certain properties, such as saliva and certain bacteria, which make them less susceptible to bacteria and viruses, but they are also known to harbor high levels of fungi and other disease-causing bacteria. Ultimately, the answer to this question varies depending on the specific circumstances, but it is safe to say that, generally speaking, a dog’s mouth is not necessarily cleaner than a human’s.

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