Is Dog’s Mouth Cleaner than Humans? Is It Safe to Allow Your Dog to Lick Your Face?

There is an old saying that a “man’s best friend has better oral hygiene” and if this is indeed true, then how do we compare the germs of man and its canine friends? But the question is, who are the people that say the mouth of a dog is cleaner than humans? You probably hear it from dog enthusiasts who let their canine friends lick their faces.

And you might wonder where this old saying came from. Well, the origin of such a saying remains a mystery up to this date. However, it is hypothesized that the reason behind this saying is because the wounds of the dogs heal faster every time they lick it. To find out if this saying is just a myth or a declaration of fact, we will discuss the oral hygiene of dogs in detail and if it is true that the best friend of a man has better oral hygiene.

Human Germs vs Dog Germs:

To disprove that the mouth of a dog is cleaner than humans is somewhat difficult. Dogs are believed to have fewer mouth germs than humans, but it’s also about the types of germs that are present in the mouth of your fido. In short, it is not a matter of amount, but the quality of the germs present in dogs and the mouth of humans. Human and dog germs are two different things altogether.

We all understand we humans carry a multitude of germs in our hands. Some are dangerous, while some are not. Anything we touch, like our cell phones, television remote control, doorknobs, among others, is laden with germs and bacteria. Now let’s compare our hands to the mouth of our dog. Dogs sniff just about anything-from chew toys to dirty slippers and even garbage cans with all those eerie kinds of stuff inside. Now can you truly say that the mouth of your dog is cleaner than yours, even if our mouths are not in touch with these dirty stuff? Can you say our hands are cleaner than our mouths?

To find out more, let us continue making a comparison as to whether our dogs have a cleaner mouth than us.

How Clean is your Fido’s Mouth Anyway? Is Dog’s Mouth Cleaner than Humans?

A direct answer to the point is NO. The mouth of your dog is not as clean as you think it is. We and our canine companions have a quasi-like amount of mouth bacteria. The only difference is what these bacteria are and how they affect overall oral hygiene.

We now understand that a powerful correlation exists between sugar consumption and decay of the tooth. We humans have more tooth decay than our dogs simply because dogs don’t eat as much sugar as we do. But don’t think dogs are not prone to tooth decay or cavities because they’re doing it in another manner.

While dogs do not have cavities, they are susceptible to periodontal diseases and other kinds of dental issues as well.

Furthermore, there are countless microorganisms, both dogs and human mouth hosts. Some of these microorganisms have useful features in dogs, while others have damaging features. Approximately 600 types of bacteria are estimated in the dog’s mouth, but these three are the most dominant:

  • 1. Actinomyces: This bacterium is the one responsible for the formation and the multiplication of oral plaques.
  • 2. Neisseria: This bacterium is harmless and only reacts if there is sugar in the diet.
  • 3. Porphyromonas: This bacterium is the one causing gum disease.

The three types of bacteria listed above are discovered not only in the mouth of the dog but also in the mouth of a man. The difference is that, for instance, the bacterium Porphyromononas in dogs is called Porphyromonas gulag while it is referred Porphyromonas gingivalis in humans. That said, nobody can say that the mouth of a dog is cleaner than humans.

The fact is both dog, and human’s mouth are equally dirty! Both are loaded with different types of bacteria.

Do Dog’s Saliva Contain Antiseptic Properties?

You may have heard that there are some healing properties in a dog’s saliva. Is it a myth or a fact? This belief can be traced back to when the Greeks and the Egyptians believed their dogs ‘ saliva had healing properties. They used the saliva of their dog to heal injuries. Dogs have also been included in their rites of healing.

The question of whether a dog’s saliva has antiseptic characteristics may be right. This is because wound-licking removes dirt from the region that has been infected. This will reduce the likelihood of infection and contamination. However, too much wound licking may also aggravate the situation as it may lead to hot spots in dogs.

What’s In a Dog’s Saliva?

The saliva of a dog contains some compounds that can effectively ward off infections. A protein called histatins helps prevent infection. There are other similar chemicals known to have curative characteristics besides this protein. Not only that, it’s demonstrated that licked wounds tend to heal more quickly, so it is true that the saliva of a dog can heal wounds.

But this kind of self-healing is not only exclusive to canines. In fact, other mammals which include human also have this kind of ability to’ cure yourself’ by licking. Maybe that’s why parents kiss the wound of their children instinctively. But does that imply you should lick your dog’s wound or your wound?

Perhaps not a good idea. Not all scientific studies conclude that saliva is all good. Yes, saliva has healing properties, but it also has certain risks. The bacterium Pastuerella may not do any harm in the mouth, but it can cause infections to the open wound. This can lead to amputation, disease, and even death. There are also other germs lurking around which can contribute more danger to the open wound. Also notice that if your dog licks its wound excessively, it may further aggravate its skin’s condition.

In other words, although it is pretty safe for your dog to lick its wound, restraining it from over-doing it is essential. Yes, the saliva of the dog has healing properties, but, everything must be done in moderation, including wound-licking as well. This is the reason why Vets highly recommend the use of Elizabethan collar.

Is it Safe to Allow Dogs to Lick Human Wounds?

This is by no means a good idea, more so for children and those with the low immune system. This can only cause a secondary infection. The traditional way of using clean water and an antiseptic agent is still the best to clean wounds. And if you’re wondering why your dog appears interested in licking your wound, it’s most probably due to curiosity. Your fido might be only curious as to how your blood tastes like.

Can You Get Germs from your Dog? Is It Safe If your Dog Licks Your Face?

Part of the reason that some people think the mouth of a dog is cleaner than humans is that humans and dogs do not swap or exchange diseases. Like for instance, if you kiss your beloved dog, you won’t catch flu, but if you kiss your sick/infected pet, you may get the flu. So, some people claim the mouth of a dog is cleaner than humans.

But what you need to understand is that most of the bacteria in the mouth of your dog are zoonotic, meaning they are not passed on to people. So it’s unlikely that whatever disease it has will be transferred to you, even if you kiss your pooch. However, there is one exception-feeding your dog’s raw meat may cause salmonella. This disease can be passed on to you. Therefore, if you wish to feed your fido raw meat, be sure that it is 100% fresh.

In short, it’s less risky to kiss your dog than to kiss your lover. But it doesn’t imply the mouth of your dog is cleaner than the mouth of your lover. It only means that some of your pooch’s illnesses are zoonotic.

But not all dog’s disease is zoonotic. There are some which can be transmitted to you through kissing or licking. These are:

  • 1. Capnocytophaga: Found in dog’s saliva, most of the time this bacterium is harmless, but in rare cases, it can lead to sepsis.
  • 2. Pasteurella: This is an anaerobic bacterium which can lead to soft tissue infection, sepsis, and pneumonia.
  • 3. Campylobacter: This bacterium is one of the leading causes of food poisoning.

Not to scare you though, but the bacteria listed above can be transmitted to dog owners. But the occurrence is very, very rare.

Something to Think About Before You Let Your Pooch Lick Your Face:

All dogs are always curious. They sniff on anything-whether it’s soil, dirty socks, plants, etc. Then dogs also tend to lick the anus of another dog. Unless you always bathe your dog, you’re not sure what you get every moment your dog licks your safe. Is it hygienic? The answer to that question is subjective. Some fur parents would say’ yes’ is completely fine, but the response might be the reverse for some fur relatives.

Oral Hygiene in Dogs:

If you love your pooch too much and can’t prevent it from licking your face, then I’ll advise you to follow strict oral hygiene for your dog. Regular teeth brushing will keep away harmful bacteria. To remove plaques, give it oral hygiene chews. You can also get doggie dental dog toy, pet dental spray, and teeth gel for dogs.  And not to forget a regular visit to the Vet for dental check-ups.


Based on several types of researches, it is concluded that the dog’s mouth is NOT at all cleaner than humans. Neither can it be said that human’s mouth is cleaner. In the end, it is perfectly alright to let your dog lick your face but always practice hygiene. Wash your face after your dog licks it. Just because most of the bacteria in your dog’s mouth are zoonotic doesn’t imply you can get sick from another thing.

Keep your dog’s mouth safe through adequate canine oral hygiene, so when you receive wet dog kisses, you would feel more comfortable!

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