Have you ever been told that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s? This is the perfect example of don’t believe everything you hear. Not surprisingly, both canine and human mouths contain bacteria, and lots of it. Though what’s interesting is that comparing one to the other is like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both mouths, but the mouths of a human and dog are totally different environments with completely different bacteria.
Only 16% of the bacteria in a dog’s mouth overlap directly with that in a human mouth. Of that other 84%, some of the non-human bacteria can be harmful if it makes its way into a human mouth. Studies have actually shown that the transfer of bacteria from dog mouths to human mouths can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease.
One of the most interesting results of these studies offers insight to Porphyromonas gulae, a disease that can cause inflamed gums and even tooth loss.
This disease is very rare in humans, but common in dogs. The shocking part is that of dog owners studied, 16% had Porphyromonas gulae, likely transmitted from their pooch – double yuck.
If you needed another reason to keep your dog away from your mouth, just keep in mind that there’s even some bacteria found in a dog’s mouth that is antibiotic resistant. If this bacteria was spread to humans, it would be much more difficult to treat.
Although both dog and human mouths have antibacterial properties that can aid in the healing of cuts and sores, don’t get any ideas about having your dog lick your wounds. When a dog licks a human wound, there is a chance that bacteria called Pasteurella can be spread. Pasteurella can be treated with antibiotics, which is great, but it can also open the door to other more serious infections to develop.
Despite these potential risks, an occasional face lick here and there isn’t really that bad for you. If you do choose to continue to swap saliva with your little buddy, though, keep in mind that bacteria transmission goes both ways. As gross as it is for you, it’s just as gross for your dog!
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