The Truth about Dog Saliva

It never fails, you come home after a long day and your dog is overwhelmed with excitement to see you walk through the door. Before you can react, a plethora of wet kisses land on your face. Most people give in to the daily smooch fest that comes with dog ownership. A minority of pet owners, concerned about germs, refrain from accepting the gift of drool. The jury is out on what germs may reside in a dog’s mouth. Here’s a few things that are known, however.

Dental Health

Dog saliva is beneficial for a dog’s dental health. Their saliva assists in preventing cavities more than human saliva. This is due to its alkaline nature. It is only minimally alkaline, however, this is enough to resist acids in foods. High acidity levels contribute to a large majority of cavities in humans. Dogs also adhere to a diet that does not include sweets. This is why your dog’s teeth don’t need to be checked as much as yours.


The saliva of a dog has an antibacterial chemical composition. Therefore, the saliva that ends up on your face is safe on its own. The problem occurs when dogs pick up other germs as they explore their environment. A dog’s saliva helps them to clean their own wounds. This protective benefit, however, may not be passed on when your dog licks you. The saliva in from a dog may benefit the dog, but not the human. The opposite may even be true. Bacteria can be transferred by the dog to the human skin.


Pet allergies can be a difficult thing situation for animal loving families. Part of the challenge is trying to figure out which part of the dog is causing the allergy. The allergy may be caused by fur or dander from the skin. Saliva, however, is a significant factor when it comes to allergic reactions. Allergic responses to saliva have to do with the proteins that are present in your dog’s drool. The responses may be more severe and more prevalent than other allergic reactions concerning dogs. Dog saliva does not remain in their mouths, adding to the complexity of allergies. Dog’s lick themselves and many objects around the home. Dried saliva causes the offending proteins to travel through the air, where it finds its way to allergic people. Thankfully, dog allergies are less common that cat allergies.

Other Complications 

Bacteria may be least of the problems when it comes to the saliva of dogs. There are more reasons to be careful around a licking dog. Viruses can also be present in dog saliva. Dogs have a different immune system than humans and may be able to tolerate a variety of items that we cannot.  Yeast is also a common issue in dogs, especially when they lick their skin a lot. An abundance of yeast can be a problem on humans, as well. Zoonotic diseases can transfer from your pet to you or the other way around.

It is not entirely bad to let your dog give you a hello lick when you get home from work. The safest way to oblige your dog is to offer your arm or leg. Try to keep them from licking the face, or area with an open cut. Dog saliva serves a purpose when it comes to protecting your pet. These protective qualities, however, may not extend to humans. Bacteria, viruses, and yeast can all transfer from your dog’s mouth to you. You can help keep your dog’s mouth clean with regular brushing and veterinary visits.

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