Mythbuster Monday! Are Dogs’ Mouths Cleaner Than Ours?

Fact or Fiction?:  Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than ours


Sadly, humans have nothing to brag about with regard to dental hygiene. Our mouths are petri dishes for bacteria, and an extraordinarily high percentage of human bites become infected. Most of us practice some form of dental prophylaxis—regular brushing, flossing, antibacterial dentifrices and mouthwashes, and regular dental care with a professional. Unfortunately, most owners do not consistently brush their dog’s teeth, provide tooth-friendly foods, or schedule regular dental checkups or cleanings with their veterinarian. As a result, many dogs’ mouths house a variety of potentially harmful bacteria. Dogs bitten by other dogs are at risk of not only serious damage from the bite itself but also a potentially life-threatening secondary bacterial infection.

Compared with most people, a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s. In addition to less attention paid to oral hygiene, infrequency of regular brushing and dental cleaning, and a variety of unhygienic feeding and grooming practices, a dog’s mouth harbors a large population of potentially dangerous organisms, including zoonotic organisms such as Giardia. So, any contact with dog mouths should be minimal. Any dog bite, whether to another dog or to a human being, holds the possibility of infection and should be examined by a trained health professional.

Originally published in AKC FAMILY DOG.