6 Dog Saliva Myths That You Thought Were True

Why dogs licks you?

  1. Dogs pick up the habit of licking from their mothers. Mothers lick their puppies to clean them and stimulate breathing. Endorphins are hormones, responsible for providing a sense of pleasure/happiness in humans. This pleasure is provided in the dogs every time the dog licks.
  2. Dogs often lick to relieve stress and anxiety problems. That’s why some dogs are addicted to excessive licking. In a dog pack, licking serves as a sign of respect to alpha dogs.
  3. Dogs lick humans purely out of affection.

Myth #1: A dog’s Saliva helps dogs with digestion

Truth: Not quite.

A dog’s mouth doesn’t carry any digestive enzymes in their saliva. Dogs, unlike humans, don’t chew to digest their food, food gets digested straight into the stomach. Digestion is done by the dog’s stomach and intestines. Dogs’ saliva function to move food down the oesophagus.

However, licking might affect some category of humans:

  • Babies.
  • AIDS patient.
  • Pregnant women
  • Diabetics
  • The elderly
  • An ill person.
  • Anyone with pimples or open sores.
  • Owner with a compromised immune system, including someone undergoing chemotherapy.

Myth #2: A dog’s mouth is as clean as a human’s mouth.

Truth: Not quite.

  • Humans’ mouths contain almost as many bacteria as dogs.
  • It’s difficult to make a comparison between the two because both carry different types of bacteria inside their mouth.
  • Although transmission of the bacteria is difficult between humans and dogs as bacteria are species-specific.

A dog’s mouth comprises harmful bacteria such as Pasteurella, when it licks on a deep cut it can cause infections like cellulitis, sepsis, and soft tissue infection.  Sepsis is caused by the pathogenic bacteria in the blood. The fatality rate of all time is about 50%.

 But what else is inside the mouth? Here’s a list of few bugs which could be transmitted by dog’s saliva to humans:

  • Capnocytophaga – It’s a Gram-negative bacterium that is commonly found in the saliva of dogs. Except in rare cases, it’s completely harmless. In rare cases, however, it causes sepsis. In severe cases, it can lead to amputation.
  • Campylobacter – It’s commonly associated with food poisoning.
  • Rabies – A viral infection with 100% fatality for humans left unchecked. The infected person needs to be vaccinated immediately after a dog bark. Dogs are the most common carriers of rabies globally. 
  • Gram-negative bacteria have a protein membrane surrounding the cell membrane which makes them harder to kill.

Myth #3: Dog Kisses doesn’t cause any disease

Truth: Not quite.

  • There should be no doubt that the dog has dirty saliva.
  • Dogs raid garbage, lick butts and can eat or chew disgusting things.
  • A dog’s mouth has around 600 types of bacteria.
  • The myth that dog saliva is cleaner is because the saliva is not zoonotic, so you cannot get infected by kisses.
  • The bacteria rarely transmit to humans. However, if a sick dog kisses you, the transmission of parasites like roundworm, hookworm, and giardia is high.
  • Also, if an infected dog licks his anus and then kisses you, the transmission is possible.
  • In such cases immediately visit the veterinarian as soon as possible.
  • Dogs feeding on a raw meat diet also has high chances of contracting salmonella.
  • There is a number of the de-worming program of dogs, which can prevent parasites in your dog.

Myth #4: Dog Saliva Have Healing Properties

Truth: Not quite.

  • According to ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures dog saliva has healing properties.
  • Caesar’s army had dogs to lick wounds, they would aid recovery and prevent the spread of diseases.
  • The tongue of the dog has a rough surface which helps them to remove any impurities from any open wound such as debris and debris. The saliva helps to cool the wound, which helps to numb the area and lower the pain effect. Researchers have concluded that dog saliva has a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF), which aids in treating wounds twice faster as opposed when left untreated (i.e., not licked).
  • However, open wounds should be treated by veterinarians. Lick granuloma (infection) or hot spots (injury) can be caused due to excessive licking of the paws
  • Vets often recommend after surgery to wear the Elizabethan collars to prevent a dog from licking their sutures. Excessive licking may cause surgical wounds to reopen and saving a veterinarian trip. Collars are meant to be worn till sutures are removed or until the wound heals up completely.
  • Stock your supplies with a canine first aid kit, instead of letting dogs’ lick. But remember to not wrap bandages very tight as wounds require oxygen to heal.
  • Police dogs are more active and engage in more physical activity. They’re more prone to injuries so regular check-ups are more important.

Myth #5: Humans are allergic to Dog Saliva Dog.

Truth: Not often.

  • Dogs are always perceived to be an allergenic trigger, but this isn’t often the case.
  • Dogs saliva has many allergens that have many proteins which may cause allergy.
  • There are almost 12 types of allergy-causing proteins in dog saliva.
  • These proteins can become airborne before being breathed by the person allergic after the dog licks his coat. This results in a reaction which can be severe if not treated on time.

Myth #6: Dog’s saliva doesn’t prevent cavities

Truth: No.

  • The saliva found in the mouths of dogs has a PH of around 7.5 to 8.
  • Humans, on the other hand, have a PH of 6.5 to 7.
  • So, the saliva of dogs and carnivores is slightly at preventing cavities.
  • The enamel of the tooth is eroded by the acid that buffers with the alkaline PH of the dogs.
  • This prevents the eroding of the enamel.  
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Measures to avoid effects of saliva transfer by dogs

  • Discourage your dog from licking by walking away when he tries to lick you.
  • Ignoring this behavior will deprive them of licking habit. Eventually, they’ll stop trying altogether. 
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly for oral health.
  • Wash your hands and face immediately after dogs’ lick.
  • Control the surroundings including toys.
  • Dog food should be formulated in such a way that it’s balanced.