Truth or Myth: Is a Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human’s?


Although the bond between you and your furry friend is undeniable, it's natural to wonder where their mouth just was each time they go in for a big, slobbery kiss. Is the old belief that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's actually true? Does dog saliva really have healing properties?

In short: No! A dog's mouth is not cleaner than a human's mouth…but it isn't necessarily dirtier, either.


Is the Bacteria in a Dog's Mouth Harmful?

Dogs explore the world with their snouts, so their mouths are naturally exposed to a vast variety of bacteria. Floyd Dewhirst, a bacterial geneticist, conducted a study that discovered only 15% of the bacteria found in dogs' mouths are also found in humans' mouths. This doesn't make furry friends' bacteria any worse than ours; it's just different. Many types of bacteria simply prefer a canine mouth as a host.

While it is normal for dogs' mouths to have bacteria, there are measures you can take to help keep this bacteria at bay—and your dog at their healthiest!


RELATED: A Pet Parent's Guide to Mastering Dog Dental Care


Keeping Your Dog's Mouth Clean

small white dog smiling

One study showed that cavities in dogs' teeth may contain hundreds of different bacteria species! But with some basic oral care practices in place, you can help keep your dog's smile healthy while minimizing the bacteria that leads to stinky dog breath and even periodontal disease.

Dental care: A daily dental routine is essential to your dog's overall health. In fact, our toothpastes, water additives, and dental spray feature Denta-C, which is scientifically formulated to reduce plaque that harbors bacteria.

Chew toys: Engage your furry friend both physically and mentally with a variety of chew toys! Specifically designed with ridges and nubs, dental dog toys help control tartar as dogs chew.

Dental treats: There's nothing like a tasty reward that also helps reduce stinky breath. As dogs chew, these textured chews and treats help clean teeth and are an excellent way to supplement any dental routine.

If you're new to dog dental care, check out our guide for brushing your dog's teeth for some easy-to-follow tips. Avoiding all bacteria is impossible, but these simple practices can help keep your dog's mouth clean!


Can Dog Saliva Get You Sick?

Yes, your dog's saliva can get you sick—but it's not too common. Not all types of bacteria spread between animals and people, but the CDC notes Capnocytophaga germs found in humans, cats, and dogs can be spread from contact with your pup under the right conditions. It is usually rare for humans to contract a bacterial infection from a dog lick, but people with weakened immune systems or other vulnerabilities are more at risk.


Myth Busted!

Despite our best hopes, a dog's mouth is not cleaner than a human's. If you still don't mind your dog greeting you with a big smooch on the lips, know that some treats, toys, and toothbrushing can go a long way!

Have other head-scratching thoughts about our furry companions? Check out our list of 10 popular dog questions for even more answers!


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