Sep 06 2011

How Clean Is Your Pet’s Mouth?

Some people hold the belief that it is okay for a dog or cat to ‘clean’ their wounds by licking them, or that their mouths are clean. But if you think about the places that they put their mouths, you would realize that this is not the case, and that the mouths of our pets are full of germs.

The number of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other germs that are present in a pet’s mouth varies throughout the day, and depends on what has been in the pet’s mouth recently or where the dog or cat has been.

Dogs routinely pick sticks or other objects off of the ground using their mouths, sniff the feces left behind by other animals, and engage in mutual butt-sniffing when greeting other dogs. Add to this the fact that they lick their fur, lick food off the floor, and otherwise are indiscriminant about what they put into their mouths.

Cats are a bit more fastidious than dogs when it comes to eating decomposing things on the ground, but their fastidious nature means that they routinely groom themselves from paw to tail after eating or using the litterbox.

It becomes obvious that there are loads of bacteria present in your pet’s mouth. If you allow him or her to lick at a wound, rather than cleaning the wound it is more likely that they will contaminate it with harmful bacteria. And if you allow your pet to give you kisses, especially on the face or hands, those bacteria can be spread to you.

We recommend that you never allow your pet to lick excessively at any part of their body, and that if your pet does give you kisses, that you wash your hands and/or face with soap and water afterwards. It is even a good idea to wash your hands after petting your dog or cat, and is one more reason why you should always wash your hands before eating.

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Caution: These news items, written by Lifelearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.

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