Does your dog love giving kisses and licking you? You may wonder how safe this is, especially if your pup shows affection by licking you on your lips.
While some dog parents believe that their furbaby’s mouth is cleaner than theirs, the short answer to the question “are dogs’ mouths cleaner than humans?” is no.
Is My Pup’s Mouth Cleaner Than Mine?
Even though billions of bacteria inhabit both human and dog mouths
Although the bacteria in the dog’s mouth are rarely zoonotic, or in other words, can contaminate and harm humans, there are some precautions you need to take if you like giving and receiving kisses from your pup.
This is especially true if your pet eats raw meat, which can contain pathogenic bacteria and lead to nasty and dangerous infections such as salmonella.
It may come as a surprise to some, but we share some similar bacteria with our pets. For example, the bacteria from the Porphyromonas genus are identical and cause gum inflammations, dental plaque, and tooth decay in both humans and dogs.
Luckily, there are ways to prevent periodontal diseases such as gingivitis, plaque, and tooth abscesses via regular oral hygiene, tooth cleaning, and care for you and your four-legged friend.
Is Dog Saliva Good For Healing Wounds?
According to historical data, dog saliva was considered healing by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
Also, dogs and most other mammals lick their wounds in order to clean them from dirt and other contaminants. This action supposedly helps prevent further infections of the wound.
But keep in mind that in cases of excessive licking of a particular spot, the dog can cause itself trauma, also known as a hot spot, which can become quite difficult to treat.
The saliva of canines contains histatins, which are proteins that can help prevent infections. Other compounds in the saliva also help protect wounds from bacterial infection.
There are studies that show that wounds that dogs periodically lick heal almost twice as faster as those which they do not lick.
The same goes for human saliva. But this doesn’t mean that you should lick any cuts on your body or let alone have your dog lick them. In fact, this can be dangerous, as it can lead to bacterial infections from bacteria like Pasteurella, which are safe when in the mouth but can be harmful and even fatal when they enter an open wound.
Plus, excessive wound licking can lead to more serious injury, hot spots, and self-mutilation.
This is why you should use conventional veterinarian care instead, and if needed, use a cone collar to prevent the dog from harming itself further.
Can Dog Saliva Give You Diseases And Infections?
While it is improbable that you will contract a disease such as flu or other from your dog’s saliva, there is a risk of contamination with harmful bacteria if your dog has eaten contaminated raw meat or other stuff.
But even though the germs in the dog’s mouth are incompatible with those in your mouth, there is still a risk of contracting salmonella or other dangerous bacterial infections. So, avoid swapping saliva and kisses with your pup, especially if it eats raw meat, feces, or other unsafe things.
Bacterial Infection From Dog Saliva
There is a risk if you get bitten by a dog with bacteria such as Pasteurella canis or Capnocytophaga canimorsus. If these common canine bacteria infest an open wound from a dog bite, this can lead to severe bacterial infection.
This is why, if you get bitten by a dog, you should make sure to clean the wound with water and soap, use an antiseptic, and, if possible, seek medical attention.
Other potential dangers from dog saliva are of E.Coli or salmonella if these bacteria find their way from the dog’s saliva to your mouth, food, or drink.
Viral Infection from Dog Saliva (Rabies)
Rabies is an extremely dangerous infection that can be spread via the saliva of a rabid dog. It can occur if you get bitten by a dog with this disease, and the result is almost always fatal for the infected animal or person.
The common symptoms of rabies are anxiety, nervousness, aggression, disorientation, lack of coordination, tremors, seizures, and more.
Make sure to contact the police or animal control if you notice a dog with similar symptoms, and seek immediate emergency care if it bites you!
Can Dog Saliva Be Harmful To The Skin?
If your pup enjoys licking your skin, you shouldn’t be worried unless you have an allergy to dog saliva. Otherwise, it is completely safe, although not so sanitary, to let your dog lick skin that has no cuts or open wounds.
If you have an allergy or sensitive skin, the area licked by the dog may develop a rash, become itchy and develop hives.
Can Dog Saliva Harm A Baby?
As noted above, the risk of any infections occurring via dog saliva is pretty low. However, babies, young children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems may be at a greater risk of such potential infections than others.
So, do not allow your dog or other dogs to lick babies and children under the age of five.
How To Prevent Dog Licking?
If you have an open wound, or in case you are sensitive or allergic to dogs and their saliva, or if you are pregnant or immunocompromised, you should prevent your dog from licking your skin.
Avoid rewarding and praising your pup if it licks you, and teach it the command “no” or “leave it” if it attempts to do so.
Cover or bandage any wounds or cuts to protect them from your dog’s saliva if it has the habit of licking you.
Keeping The Dog’s Mouth Clean
In order to keep your pup’s mouth as clean as possible, you can do the following:
- Brush its teeth with dog toothpaste 2-3 times a week
- Add some dental powder to its food
- Use a dog dental water additive
- Give it treats that have a Veterinary Oral Health Council’s Seal of Acceptance.
- Visit your veterinarian for regular dental cleanings
- Ask for prescription dental treats
- Avoid feeding it sugary or other harmful foods