It has always been a common saying that "a dog's mouth is cleaner than a humans". Our Montecito vets talk about how clean your dog's mouth really is and why you should avoid your dog's saliva.
Is Your Dog's Mouth Cleaner Than Yours?
No, unfortunately, your dog's mouth is not cleaner than yours. Your dog's mouth contains billions of bacteria that are entirely different than the bacteria in your mouth, but you also have billions of your own. Luckily your dog's germs prefer to live within dogs and are not harmful to humans.
If you are noticing that your dog's breath is extra smelly it could be a sign of periodontal disease which is caused by Porphyromonas bacteria. In the early stages of periodontal disease, there is inflammation of the gums which is caused by bacteria in the mouth forming dental plaque.
This plaque buildup will eventually lead to bad breath, gum recession, tooth root abscesses, and the destruction of bone around the tooth roots unless your dog receives professional dental care.
Can You Get Infections and Diseases From Dog Saliva?Although the risk is low, it is possible for dogs to transmit bacterial and viral infections through their saliva. This transmission could happen if a dog bites you due to the saliva entering the wound or if dog saliva were to enter your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Bacterial InfectionsIf a person has been bitten by a dog the bacteria most commonly found in the wound is Pasteurella Canis. Unfortunately, dog saliva could also cause a serious bacterial infection in people due to a bacteria called Capnocytophaga Canimorsus. The severity of the wound depends on how bad the bite is and where you were bitten as well as the overall state of your health.
If you have been bitten by a dog you should wash the area with soap and water immediately and for no less than 15 minutes. After you have thoroughly cleaned the area it is important to seek medical attention as the wound could quickly become infected.
It is also possible that the dog may be carrying E. Coli bacteria whether the dog eats a raw food diet or not. These pathogens could pass through your dog's saliva and infect you.
Rabies (Viral Infection)The rabies virus is a serious concern when you have been bitten by a dog. It is a very serious infection that dog's also pass through their saliva.
If a dog has been infected with the rabies virus it will work its way through the nervous system and works its way to the brain. The symptoms that you might notice in a dog that has been infected are anxiety and nervousness, aggressiveness, disorientation, and seizures. Dogs in the later stages might attack people, animals, and objects without warning.
It is important to contact your local police or wildlife services if you notice any animal with these symptoms. Once an animal begins to develop symptoms it is usually fatal.
Is Dog Saliva Bad For Your Skin?The highest risk of infection from dog saliva is if you have any open wounds as bacteria need to enter through broken skin.
Another concern for some might be allergies. For many people suffering from an allergy to dogs, this can include the saliva of some dogs. Typical symptoms of an allergy to dog saliva might be hives, developing a rash, and/or becoming very itchy.
Those with underlying health conditions should avoid all contact with dog saliva.
If you are allergic or living with an underlying health condition, it is important that you avoid all contact with your dog's saliva. Training your dog to not lick can be difficult but it is possible through consistent training and positive reinforcement,
If you have any open wounds be sure to keep them clean and covered and ensure that your dog does not have any contact with your injury,
How to Keep Your Dog's Mouth CleanThere are many ways you can help your dog keep a clean mouth such as:
- Brush your dog's teeth at least 3 times a week
- Add dental powder to your dog's meals
- Use dental additives in your dog's water
- Vet prescribed dental focused diet
- Provide your dog with certified dental treats
- Maintain regular dental cleanings and exams from your vet
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.