True Or False: A Dog’s Mouth Is Cleaner Than A Humans

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Just the other day my dog Stetson licked my face and as a devote dog owner I had no problem with this (although as a Guide Dog in Training Stetson should not be licking). However, a friend of mine screamed out “ewwww, that’s gross!” I immediately reacted with “A dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s!” The funny thing is I’ve heard that line many times throughout my life without any proof.

Is a dog’s mouth really cleaner then a human’s? Sometimes I find it hard to believe.

Dog’s Mouth Vs. Human’s Mouth

Why am I second guessing myself about what I said the other day? Well, as I said earlier I have no proof and haven’t done any research on this subject. Here’s my evidence against the dogs:

  1. My dogs don’t brush or floss there teeth twice a day – I only brush my dogs teeth about twice a week.
  2. My dogs both have “doggie breath” all the time. – Stetson’s is worse than Linus’s
  3. My dogs can and do lick themselves in places I cannot and do not.
  4. Some dogs enjoy eating there own and other animal feces (my parents dog).

I found this great quote on the About.com website:

“A dog’s mouth contains a lot of bacteria,” notes Dr. Gary Ask the Vet” Clemons. “Remember, a dog’s tongue is not only his wash cloth but also his toilet paper.”

The Verdict

So, is a dog’s mouth cleaner than a human’s? After extensive research (filtering through five or six articles on the internet) I have come to the conclusion that no a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s.

Where Did This Urban Legend Come From?

Evidently Doctor’s started this rumor. Early medical journals found that human bites were more likely to cause infection then a mammals bite including dogs. More recent findings have noted that other than bites to the hand human bites do not have any higher risk of infection than animal bites.

To sum up:

  • Originally it was thought that a human bite was more likely to cause infection then a dog bite. – starting the rumor that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s
  • New evidence shows that this is not true. – thus dispelling the rumor.

Conclusion

Why is a dog’s mouth not as clean as a human’s then? Mainly because of the points I mentioned above. A dog doesn’t care where he puts his mouth or tongue. He therefore collects more bacteria then a human on a daily basis. A dog also doesn’t brush and floss daily.

Have you heard this rumor before? What do you think about this evidence?

Here are a couple articles I used in research:

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/dogs/a/dog_breath.htm

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IBX/is_2003_Feb-March/ai_97515424

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