Is a Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human’s? What We Know Now

Happy Dog Licking Ice Cream ConeWhat pet lover doesn’t love to get smooches from their pup? If you’re a dog owner (and maybe even if you aren’t), you have probably heard the myth that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans. Dogs tend to dig their noses into everything, whether it is the garbage can or the toilet bowl.  Could they really have cleaner mouths, or is someone just ‘pulling our tail’?

We like to brush our teeth at least twice a day. Dogs on the other hand, don’t have this luxury. According to our recent survey, only 6% of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth daily. In fact, 47% never do (busted!). On top of all that, did you know 85% of dogs have some form of dental disease?  The idea that dogs’ mouths are cleaner doesn’t seem logical, but to debunk this old wives’ tale, we have to sink our teeth into this a bit deeper.

Why Do People Think Dogs Have Cleaner Mouths Than Humans?

It seems bizarre to think an animal that does all his own personal grooming by mouth would have a cleaner mouth than a human. There are a couple suspected sources for this idea. One theory is based on the fact that a human bite has more virulent bacteria and therefore more chances of causing infection than a dog bite. Another reason people may have this idea comes from the ability our pups have to clean their wounds by licking them.

So Whose Mouth Is Cleaner?

The simple answer to the question of if a dog’s mouth is cleaner is no, it is not. Both dog and human mouths carry a significant amount of bacteria, although much of the bacteria are species specific. For instance, catching a cold cannot be transferred to your dog and vice versa. In general, humans are typically immune to most doggy germs—unless they have rabies or some other rare disease. So in terms of possibly getting an infected wound, you’re less likely to get one from a dog bite — but only because the bacteria in his mouth usually can’t cause much harm. Dogs also produce a lot more saliva than we do. This helps to constantly wash out their mouths, keeping them cleaner.  It’s nature’s way of compensating for dogs’ lack of brushing and flossing.

Pucker Up!

Dogs’ mouths really aren’t any cleaner than ours, but you can keep the kisses coming! If you are looking for ways to help keep your pup’s mouth clean and fresh, give your dog a daily dental treat or dog breath freshener as part of a diet of healthy food and healthy treats. Also, remember to always get your dog regular dental checkups to keep his mouth healthy. He’ll thank you for it!