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Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's mouth?

The saying "a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's mouth" has been around for a long time, but is it true? Today, our Rock Springs vets tackle this age-old question.

Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's?

Comparing a dog's mouth to a human's mouth is like comparing apples and oranges. While there is some overlap in the types of bacteria between species, a dog's' mouth includes a variety of dental bacteria that you won't discover in yours. A dog's mouths contains about 600 different species of germs, compared to the 615, and counting, varieties in the human mouth.

So in short, the answer is no.

However, there are similarities. Porphyromonas, for example, is a bacterial family that causes periodontal disease in both dogs and humans. Billions of germs slowly accumulate on the surface of the teeth, causing bad breath, gum recession, tooth root abscesses, and bone damage around the tooth roots.

Early stages of periodontal disease are treatable in both dogs and humans with at-home dental care. And dogs, like humans, require professional dental cleanings regularly.

Can you get infections and diseases from dog saliva?

The chance of germs being transmitted to humans through a dog's saliva is extremely low. However, it does still have a chance of happening. Through their saliva, dogs can spread bacterial and viral illnesses. They can be transmitted If a dog bites you or saliva goes into your nose, mouth, or eyes.

Bacterial Infections

A dog bite can transmit the bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus through the bite wound, resulting in a serious bacterial infection in humans. Another bacteria, Pasteurella canis, is the most common bacteria found in a dog's mouth; it is also the most common organism found in a person who has been bitten by a dog. The severity of a dog bite is determined by the location of the wound and whether the person is immunocompromised, or vulnerable in some other way.

If you are bitten by a dog, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes before seeking medical attention.


The most serious infection that dogs can transmit through their saliva is rabies. It's a virus that can spread when a dog bites someone. The virus infiltrates the nervous system, causing a variety of symptoms. Dogs themselves may exhibit anxiety and nervousness at first. Dogs become aggressive, uncoordinated, and disoriented in later stages.

If you see a dog (or wild animal) exhibiting these symptoms, contact your local animal control or police department and keep your distance. When a dog, person, or wild animal develops symptoms of rabies, it is almost always fatal.

Is it bad if your dog licks you then?

Because your skin absorbs saliva poorly, there is little risk of infection if a dog licks you (as long as they are not licking a wound). If you are allergic to dog saliva, your skin may develop hives, a rash, and/or become extremely itchy.

How to Clean a Dog's Mouth

Proper dog dental care, and learning how to clean your dog's teeth, are essential in making sure your dog's mouth is as clean and safe as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this is to bring your dog in for a dental appointment. We recommend at least once a year, or more if your dog is suffering from some sort of dental disease (like periodontitis).

When you bring your dog to Mountainaire Animal Clinic for a dental checkup, our vets will perform a full oral examination for your pooch and check for signs of dental issues, such as:

  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Bleeding around the mouth
  • Swelling or pain in or around the mouth
  • Plaque or tartar buildup on teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Bad breath

If left untreated, oral health problems can become severe and cause your dog a great deal of pain and discomfort. If you notice signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as decreased appetite (which can indicate tooth pain), abnormal chewing, drooling, dropping food from the mouth, bad breath, or other symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away to schedule a dental appointment.

At Mountainaire Animal Clinic, we clean and polish your dog's teeth thoroughly, both above and below the gum line. We probe and X-ray the teeth, then use a fluoride treatment before applying a dental sealant to help prevent future decay and damage. If your dog has advanced periodontal disease, we will create a treatment plan to help restore your dog's mouth to a pain-free and healthy state.

Should I brush my dog's teeth?

As a pet owner, you play an important role in assisting your dog in fighting dental disease. Here are a few simple ways you can help keep your dog's mouth healthy:
  • Brush your dog's teeth daily with a finger brush, or a child's toothbrush if you can't find a finger brush, to remove any plaque or debris. It's as straightforward as brushing your own teeth. If your dog is resistant to having its teeth cleaned, try some doggie toothpaste in flavors that your dog will love. These dog-friendly toothpastes can transform a chore into a treat.
  • Use a plaque prevention product (your vet can recommend some), which you can apply to your pet’s teeth and gums. These products act as a barrier to prevent plaque buildup.
  • Offer your pup treats, such as dental chews or food designed to help prevent plaque buildup and tartar.

Dental care is an important part of your pet's overall health. Be sure to book your pet's annual dental appointment today. Your dog will thank you. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pup's annual dental cleaning? Contact Mountainaire Animal Clinic to book an appointment to get your dog's mouth as clean as it should be!

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Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Rock Springs cats and dogs. Get in touch today to request an appointment for your pet.

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