This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT.
While I tend to think dogs are better than people in many ways, oral hygiene is definitely not one of them. Your dog’s mouth is NOT cleaner than yours! However, this does require some clarification. If you brush and floss your dog’s teeth twice daily, but neglect your own mouth, this might be true. If you don’t partake in regular dental cleanings, this also might be true. Catching a theme here?
Are Dog’s Mouths Clean?
The truth is, both human AND canine mouths are full of bacteria! Dogs enjoy goose poop, drink out of muddy puddles, and frequently lick their own backend. Hopefully you’re not doing that! Combine these nasty habits with the lack of daily oral hygiene (flossing, brushing, rinsing) and it’s safe to say the population of bacteria that resides in a dog’s mouth is different compared to humans. If your dog has bad breath, gingivitis (red gums), or tartar accumulation, there are probably some not-so-beneficial bacteria lurking in there.
One particular bacteria found in dog mouths called Capnocytophaga canimorsus can be harmful to people. People without spleens can be killed by this bacteria very quickly, which is really scary. Dog bites also pose a significant health risk to people as the bacteria from a dog’s mouth becomes inoculated into an open wound. I have seen several clients require surgery for untreated bite wounds. The take home points are to be careful with pets if you don’t have a spleen and take bite wounds seriously.
How To Make My Dog's Breath Smell Better
If one life goal is for your dog to have the cleanest dog mouth on the block, consider the following:
- Brush your pup’s teeth every day. You can use a toddler toothbrush and toothpaste made for dogs.
- Look inside your dog’s mouth every week to check for gingivitis, tooth fractures, and anything else that doesn’t look quite right.
- Have your dog’s teeth cleaned professionally under anesthesia at intervals recommended by your veterinarian. Some dogs require cleanings every 6-12 months, while others will only need a few anesthetic cleanings in their lifetime. Ensure that your veterinarian takes full mouth dental x-rays during these procedures This helps your veterinarian see issues taking place below the gumline.
You can read more about my approach on preventing dental disease here.
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