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

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

Many people have heard the saying that a dog's mouth is actually cleaner than a human's, but is this fact or fiction? Our team of vets in Argyle talks about dog dental care, how to clean a dog's mouth and teeth and if it's actually cleaner than yours.

Is your dog's mouth cleaner than yours?

There is an age-old myth that says that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's. Unfortunately, that is all it is, a myth. While there are some similarities in the types of bacteria found in both species, dogs have a greater variety of dental bacteria that you won't find in humans. Dogs' mouths contain approximately 600 different species of germs, while humans have around 615 and counting.

So when it comes to breaking down the differences in the bacteria in the mouth, a dog's mouth is entirely different.

There are a few minor similarities in bacteria though. One example is the bacterial family called Porphyromonas, which can cause periodontal disease in both dogs and humans. Billions of germs gradually accumulate on the teeth's surface, leading to issues like bad breath, gum recession, tooth root abscesses, and bone damage around the tooth roots.

If your dog is showing the signs of early periodontal disease, this can be remedied with both at-home oral hygiene and care as well as professional veterinary dog dental care.

What are some infections that can be transmitted through your dog's saliva?

While the risk of contracting an infection from a dog's saliva is low, it is never zero. Dogs can spread bacterial and viral diseases through their saliva. These illnesses can be transmitted if a dog bites you or if their saliva enters your nose, mouth, or eyes.

Bacterial Infections

The bacteria in your dog's saliva can be transmitted through bites. These bacteria have the potential to cause serious infections. One of the bacteria, called Capnocytophaga canimorsus, can be transmitted through the bite wound. Another common bacteria found in a dog's mouth is Pasteurella canis, which is often present in people who have been bitten by a dog. The severity of the dog bite depends on where the wound is located and whether the person's immune system is compromised or vulnerable in some way.

If you get bitten by a dog, make sure to clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes before seeking medical help. If your dog eats food that is contaminated with Salmonella or E. coli, these harmful bacteria can be transmitted to you if your dog's saliva comes into contact with your mouth. If a dog is on a raw food diet, they may be more likely to carry these types of bacteria.


One of the most dangerous infections that a dog can transmit through their saliva is rabies. This infection also spreads through a bite from an infected animal. Once inside the body, the virus affects the nervous system and leads to various symptoms. Initially, dogs may show signs of anxiety and nervousness. As the disease progresses, dogs become aggressive, lose coordination, and feel disoriented.

If you see any pet, person or animal displaying the signs of rabies you should contact the local authorities or animal control right away. Make sure to keep a safe distance. Unfortunately, when a dog, person, or wild animal shows signs of rabies, it is almost always fatal.

Is it safe for my dog to lick me?

Saliva can not easily penetrate the skin making a lick fairly harmless. However, if you are allergic to dog saliva, your skin may develop hives, a rash, and/or become extremely itchy.

How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Proper dental care for dogs is crucial for maintaining a clean and healthy mouth. Learning how to clean your dog's teeth is an important part of this care. A simple and effective method is to schedule regular dental appointments for your dog. We suggest doing this at least once a year, or more frequently if your dog is experiencing dental problems like periodontitis.

At , when you bring your dog for a dental checkup, our veterinarians will conduct a thorough oral examination. Some of the signs of dental conditions that your vet will look for include:

  • 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 your dog experiences an untreated oral health condition, it can lead to pain, discomfort or even serious complications. If you observe signs of periodontal disease in your pet, such as reduced appetite (indicating tooth pain), unusual chewing, excessive drooling, difficulty holding food in the mouth, unpleasant breath, or other symptoms, it is crucial to contact your veterinarian promptly. They will assist you in scheduling a dental appointment for your pet.

Our comprehensive dental care involves thoroughly cleaning and polishing your dog's teeth, addressing the areas above and below the gum line. We also conduct tooth probing and x-rays, followed by a fluoride treatment and the application of a dental sealant to prevent future decay and damage. In cases of advanced periodontal disease, we will work together with you to develop a treatment plan aimed at restoring your pet's mouth to a pain-free and healthy condition.

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 and clean his teeth:
  • Brush your pet's teeth daily with a finger brush from your vet or a child's toothbrush 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. This dog-friendly toothpaste 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.

Does your dog need to visit us for a routine dental exam and cleaning? Contact our team at Argyle Veterinary Hospital today to schedule an appointment.

Looking for a new veterinarian in Argyle?

Contact (940) 464-3231