Is a Dog Mouth REALLY Cleaner Than a Human Mouth? | Pupford

April 10th, 2023

Filed under Health + Wellness

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The idea that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth is actually quite a common statement that one may hear.

The fact is that dogs’ and humans' mouths are much different in terms of the bacteria they contain. So is a dog's mouth really cleaner than a human's mouth? As it turns out, the answer to this question is simply: no.

But, there is a lot more to it than just that. Continue reading this article to find out:

  1. Why that myth is so popular
  2. What cultures used dog saliva as a healing ointment
  3. The importance of dog dental care
  4. How to clean your dog's mouth


why a dog mouth is not cleaner than a human mouth

One reason why the idea that a dog’s mouth is cleaner has become widely popular may have something to do with the fact that dogs have a completely different set of bacteria than humans do.

The bacteria that they inhibit is not compatible with humans and not as likely to have a negative effect on us humans if we accidentally swap saliva with a pup.

This does not necessarily mean that a dog’s mouth is cleaner. Human and dog mouths are completely different and it’s hard to compare the two since we’re two different types of mammals with different sets of evolutionary factors.

Historically, many cultures such as Greek and Egyptian cultures used dog saliva as a healing ointment. There may be some positive elements to dog saliva including the proteins it contains called Histatins. For one, licking a wound cleans dirt and debris from a wound, and two, histatin proteins can ward off infection. So, there is evidence of benefits that come from dog saliva, but still not enough to deem it cleaner than human saliva.

These factors may have contributed to the idea that dogs have “cleaner” mouths than humans and possibly where this myth originated from. Still, we would not recommend using dog saliva for healing purposes. Stick to modern-day medicines and professional medical advice because some of the bacteria that are found in dog saliva including Pasteurella can cause serious repercussions when added to an open wound, while harmless in the mouth.

Dogs and humans both contain more than 600 different species of bacteria within their mouths. This does not include the different bacteria that can be brought on by specific environments. While comparing which is more clean is like comparing apples to oranges, one thing is true for both, it’s important to keep our mouths clean with proper regiments.


how to care for dog teeth

One similarity between a dog and human mouth is the bacterial family, Porphyromonas. This bacteria causes periodontal disease. The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. This is the swelling and inflammation of the gums.

When bacteria begins to slowly build up on the teeth they form dental plaque. This is what causes the slow destruction of teeth starting with the tooth roots. It also leads to bad breath, gum irritation, and more damaging symptoms.

Both dogs and humans are susceptible to this bacteria and its harmful effects if not managed with proper hygienic care. Many puppy parents overlook that their dog needs to keep their teeth clean just like us. Here are some tips on how to care for your dog's teeth so you can keep them happy and healthy:

  • Brush Their Teeth Regularly - The most effective way to care for your dog’s teeth is similar to how you take care of your own teeth: brushing them regularly! Use a toothbrush that is better shaped for your dog’s mouth and a toothpaste that is specifically made for dogs. Gently work this routine into their schedule. Make sure to give verbal praise and show positive body language when they lick the toothbrush or let you put it near their mouth. We don’t want them to associate the toothbrush negatively, so it’s important to move slowly until they become accustomed to the process and look at it as a stimulating activity.
  • Use Dental Wipes - This is less effective than a toothbrush because the bristles on a toothbrush give a better scrub, but this is a good way to keep teeth clean if they aren’t taking a liking to a toothbrush.
  • Use Dental Chews - Dog dental chews, especially the Pupford Dog Dental Chew, works to scrape off plaque and tartar from your dog's gums and teeth as they chew. The Pupford dental chew has many additional benefits as well including added ingredients such as turmeric, spirulina, and peppermint to improve gut health and boost the immune system.
  • Use Supplements - Some dogs are not fond of the taste, but certain enzymes in pill form can help with breaking down plaque and reducing bad breath.
  • Schedule Regular Teeth Cleanings - Just like humans, dogs should have their teeth cleaned regularly by a professional. Just like we visit the dentist, dogs should visit their vet at least once a year. Make sure to keep up with routine at-home methods so when you do visit for the annual teeth cleaning they don’t have to remove any teeth or discover any health issues. We know that vet bills add up quickly, so getting a pet insurance plan is definitely recommended.

So, dogs’ mouths may not be cleaner than human mouths, but it is important to try and keep them as clean as we can using conventional methods.

It’s important to be consistent with this and one of the easiest ways to stay on top of it if you have a very busy schedule that can’t accommodate daily-dog-teeth-brushing is by using dental chews.

Additional Reading: Do dog dental chews work?

We mentioned them above but want to reiterate that they are as easy as treating them to one daily. This can be a huge help for busy-bodies who can only manage to mix in teeth brushing once or twice a week. Even more convenient, check out this Pup Hygiene Pack that includes a toothbrush, dental chews, a shampoo bar, and more.

Pupford's goal is to help all pups and pup parents by providing valuable tools, treats, and training resources. Explore more resources and start building a better and more enriching environment for your dog.


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