| Pet Care Advice By Veterinarians |

How Clean Are Dog’s Mouths?



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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You’ve probably heard the old saying that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. But how much truth is there to this claim?

We’ll delve into the world of canine oral health, exploring the bacteria that reside in a dog’s mouth.

We’ll also shed light on the factors that can influence the cleanliness of a dog’s mouth. Also. I will offer some tips for maintaining your furry friend’s oral health.

So, if you’ve ever wondered just how clean your dog’s mouth really is, read on.

Key Takeaway

  • The cleanliness of a dog’s mouth is comparable to that of a human’s mouth, as both contain bacteria and microbes.
  • However, a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s mouth as both contain bacteria and microbes.
  • Dogs’ mouths are generally not cleaner than cats’ mouths.

How Clean Are Dog’s Mouths?

How Clean Are Dog's Mouths

A dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human’s or a cat’s, but simply contains different types of bacteria, some of which can cause dental health issues if not properly managed.

Dogs use their mouths to explore the world, which can introduce a variety of bacteria.

Some of these bacteria are specific to dogs, such as Porphyromonas gulae, which is related to the P. gingivalis bacteria found in human mouths. Both can contribute to gum disease in their respective species.

While dogs do have some natural mechanisms in their saliva that can help combat certain bacteria, this doesn’t mean their mouths are sterile.

The presence of bacteria in a dog’s mouth can lead to dental health issues if not properly managed, just like in humans and cats. Therefore, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene practices for your pet.

Is My Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than a Human Mouth?

No, a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a human mouth. Although dogs may not suffer from the same kinds of dental problems that humans do, bacteria still exist in their mouths.

These bacteria can cause bad breath and other oral health issues for both them and us if they are not regularly brushed or cared for properly.

Dogs also carry other germs, such as those found in saliva, which can be transferred to humans through contact with things like shared bowls or toys.

Additionally, due to their diet, some dogs may have higher concentrations of bacteria in their mouths than humans do.

Is A Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than A Toilet?

No, a dog’s mouth is not cleaner than a toilet. Dogs can be prone to carrying harmful bacteria in their mouths, which can cause various diseases and infections in humans.

In addition, the saliva of a dog contains more germs than that of a human. Some dogs may have bad breath due to poor dental hygiene.

If ingested, these germs can make someone very sick. Therefore, it is not advisable to let your dog come into contact with your food or drink or any other items that could potentially be contaminated by the bacteria from its mouth.

Are Dogs’ Mouths Cleaner Than Cats?

No, dogs’ mouths are not cleaner than cats’. While dogs may have less bacteria in their saliva than cats, both species of animal can carry a variety of different types of bacteria and viruses that can be transferred to humans if the necessary precautions are not taken.

Therefore, it is important to remember to always wash hands after contact with either type of pet.

Additionally, it is also wise to avoid letting any pet lick open cuts or sores on your skin as this could lead to further complications due to potential infections.

Generally speaking, proper hygiene practices should be followed when interacting with any pet regardless of the species.

Are The Bacteria in a Dog’s Mouth Harmful?

Yes, the bacteria in a dog’s mouth can potentially be harmful, though it greatly depends on the type of bacteria and the situation.

One common bacterium found in the mouths of dogs is Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

This bacterium is usually harmless in a dog’s mouth, but if it’s introduced into an open wound or the bloodstream, it can lead to serious infections, potentially resulting in sickness, amputation, or even death.

However, it’s important to note that most bacteria in a dog’s mouth are not harmful to humans under normal circumstances.

These bacteria are adapted to live in a dog’s mouth and are not typically able to infect humans.

Infections from dog saliva are relatively rare and usually occur only when the person has a weakened immune system or when the bacteria are introduced through a bite or an open wound.

Can You Get Sick From The Bacteria in Your Dog’s Mouth?

Yes, it is possible to get sick from the bacteria in your dog’s mouth, but it is relatively rare and usually requires specific circumstances.

The vast majority of bacteria in a dog’s mouth are not harmful to humans. However, there are certain types of bacteria, like Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Pasteurella, which can cause infections if they enter the human body through a bite or an open wound.

Capnocytophaga canimorsus, for instance, is a bacterium that lives in the mouths of dogs and cats and can cause severe and sometimes life-threatening infections in humans if it enters the bloodstream through a bite or lick over an open wound. Symptoms may include fever, chills, sweats, and muscle aches.

Furthermore, dogs can carry parasites like Toxocara canis (roundworm) in their saliva. Humans can get infected by accidentally ingesting this parasite, leading to an illness known as toxocariasis, which can cause fever, fatigue, coughing, and even vision loss in severe cases.

Is It Bad To Kiss Your Dog On The Mouth?

Yes, it’s generally considered not advisable to kiss your dog on the mouth due to potential health risks and behavioral considerations.

While it’s a common way for pet owners to show affection, kissing your dog on the mouth can carry potential health risks.

Dogs use their mouths to explore their environments and can come into contact with various bacteria, parasites, and viruses that could potentially be harmful to humans.

For instance, a bacterium found in the mouths of dogs, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, could cause serious infections if it enters the human body through an open wound or mucous membrane.

What Animal Has The Cleanest Mouth?

The animal that is often cited as having the cleanest mouth is the crocodile.

Surprisingly, despite their predatory nature and diet, crocodiles have a mouth environment that has been found to be quite clean due to their oral hygiene behaviors.

They have been documented engaging in self-grooming activities such as rubbing their mouths against rocks and grinding their teeth with their tongues, which can help to remove debris and bacteria.

However, it’s important to remember that “clean” in this context doesn’t mean completely free of bacteria or other microorganisms, but rather indicates a lower amount compared to other animals.

How To Clean A Dog’s Mouth

Here is how to clean a dog’s mouth:

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

One of the most effective ways to clean your dog’s mouth is by brushing their teeth. Choose a toothbrush that’s specifically designed for dogs and a dog-friendly toothpaste.

Human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs, so it’s crucial to use a product that’s safe for them. Start by getting the toothbrush wet and applying a small amount of toothpaste. Gently brush your dog’s teeth, being careful not to brush too hard.

Using Dental Wipes

Dental wipes for dogs are another great option for cleaning your dog’s mouth. They’re easy to use and can be more accepted by dogs who don’t like having a toothbrush in their mouth. Simply wrap the dental wipe around your finger and gently clean your dog’s teeth and gums.

Dental Chews and Treats

Dental chews and treats can also help to keep your dog’s mouth clean. These products are designed to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth as they chew. They can be a good supplement to brushing, but shouldn’t be used as a replacement for regular brushing.

Regular Vet Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are important for maintaining your dog’s oral health. Your vet can perform professional cleanings and check for signs of dental disease. It’s recommended to have your dog’s teeth checked at least once a year.


Q: Is dog saliva cleaner than humans’?

A: Dog saliva is not cleaner than humans’. Although dog saliva contains a few antimicrobial properties, it also carries a wide range of bacteria, including harmful ones like salmonella. It’s important to remember that the cleanliness of a mouth depends on oral hygiene and overall health, regardless of whether it belongs to a human or a dog.

Q: Can you get sick from dog saliva?

A: Yes, it is possible to get sick from dog saliva. While the risk is generally low, some bacteria present in a dog’s mouth can cause infections, especially if you have an open wound or weak immune system. It’s important to practice good hygiene when your dog licks you, such as washing the affected area with soap and water.

Q: Are dogs’ mouths cleaner than humans’ for dental health?

A: No, dogs’ mouths are not inherently cleaner than humans’ for dental health. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from various oral health issues, including tooth decay, gum disease, and tartar buildup. Regular brushing, professional cleanings, and good oral hygiene practices are essential for maintaining both human and canine oral health.

Q: Are dogs’ mouths cleaner than humans’ for preventing bad breath?

A: Dogs’ mouths are not cleaner than humans’ when it comes to preventing bad breath. Bad breath in dogs can be caused by dental problems, poor oral hygiene, or underlying health issues. Regular dental care and visits to the veterinarian are important for maintaining fresh breath in both dogs and humans.

Q: Can you let your dog lick your face?

A: While some people enjoy letting their dogs lick their faces, it’s important to consider the potential risks. Dog saliva contains bacteria, and certain strains can be harmful. Additionally, you may be exposed to parasites if your dog has fleas or ticks. It’s best to practice caution and avoid letting your dog lick your face.

Q: Are dog mouths cleaner than human mouths in general?

A: No, dog mouths are not generally cleaner than human mouths. The cleanliness of a mouth depends on factors like oral hygiene habits, overall health, and types of bacteria present. Comparing the cleanliness of dog and human mouths is like comparing apples and oranges – they have different oral biology and bacterial families.

Q: Can you get sick from a dog’s mouth?

A: While it’s rare, it is possible to get sick from a dog’s mouth. Certain bacteria present in a dog’s mouth can cause infections, including some types of bacteria that are transferable between dogs and humans. It’s important to keep your dog’s mouth healthy and practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of any potential illnesses.

Q: Is a dog’s mouth really cleaner than a human’s?

A: No, a dog’s mouth is not necessarily cleaner than a human’s mouth. The cleanliness of a mouth depends on factors like oral hygiene practices, bacterial composition, and overall health. While some studies have suggested that certain types of bacteria found in a dog’s mouth may be beneficial, it does not make their mouths cleaner overall.

Q: How can I keep my dog’s mouth clean?

A: To keep your dog’s mouth clean, you can follow these tips:

  • Regularly brush your dog’s teeth with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Provide dental chews or toys that promote teeth cleaning.
  • Feed your dog a balanced diet that supports oral health.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian for professional cleanings and dental evaluations.

Remember, maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for your dog’s overall health and well-being.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, the notion that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s is a myth.

Both canine and human mouths are teeming with bacteria, but they are not inherently harmful unless an infection occurs.

The types of bacteria present in a dog’s mouth are different from those in a human’s, making it hard to compare cleanliness directly.

It’s crucial to maintain your pet’s oral health through regular brushing and professional cleanings to ensure their mouth stays as clean as possible.

With proper care, you can help keep your furry friend’s mouth healthy and happy.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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