Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Oral Hygiene

Ok, so raise your hands if you have heard that dogs have less germs in their mouths than people? Anyone? That is something I hear all of the time and I honestly have to shake my head. I mean, my dog uses her tongue as toilet paper. I don't want that thing anywhere near me. Seriously, it is almost as gross as someone handing me their cell phone, the one I heard them texting on in the bathroom stall.

However, some people persist in thinking that the germs in the mouths of animals won't transfer to people. And some people do nasty things like this guy who lets his dog drink out of his mouth.

The first time I ran across something like this was back in my college years. I was taking a history on a patient for the vet and the owner told me that she gave her dog steak. I advised that steak is often too high in fat and that it might cause a stomach ache. She told me not to worry...she pre-chewed each piece and sucked the fat off it it prior to giving it to Poochy. Ok, that is weird in and of itself. It smacks of someone that would cart around one of those reborn dolls and insist on changing its diaper. Ms Sally Sharesaliva then proceeded to take a starlight mint out of her mouth and let her dog lick it a few times and then she PUT IT BACK IN HER MOUTH. OMG! I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. No, seriously, I'll be right back.

Ok, did you have a chance to cogitate on that while I was busy scrubbing out my mouth? Feeling ok?

By the next time I heard something like this, the miraculous website, Youtube had been invented (it was sometime after Al Gore invented the internet) and I could torture both my husband and myself with visual proof that common sense is not common. Hence the video above.

So, I am kind of a public health junkie and I love to talk about zoonotic diseases. Those are the diseases that can be shared between humans and other animals. In fact veterinarians are prone to reel off information about these diseases in most exam situations. This is because the clients' health is a concern just is their pets' well being.

One of my favorite public health websites, besides the CDC website, is the Worms and Germs blog on our blogroll. In my preparation for a lecture I am giving, I have been perusing current information and statistics on various diseases. Low and behold I ran across the article, Severe Pasteurella Infections from Palliative Pet Care by Dr. Scott Weese. It has some details of some case reports where humans got a severe form of a bacterial infection from kissing their pets on the mouth/head and/or sharing food. Icky dance!!

The moral of the story...don't let your pet drink out of your mouth. Or use your toothbrush. Or eat off of your fork. I am serious. And please, for the love all all things squirmy and wormy, do not let your puppy lick your child's face.


  1. They got sick yes - but all of the animals in questions were dying or in the last stages of death...not healthy animals. Doesn't that make a difference? Not much to back up your information here....

    1. You have got to be joking??? Please tell me you are joking!!!!

  2. Well, if you honestly need a reason to avoid frenching your dog:

    Dental plaque flora of the dog with reference to fastidious and anaerobic bacteria associated with bites
    J Vet Dent. December 1997;14(4):127-30.
    R P Allaker1, K A Young, T Langlois, R de Rosayro, J M Hardie
    1 Department of Oral Microbiology, St. Bartholomew's, London, UK.


    Bite-related and septic syndromes caused by cats and dogs.
    Lancet Infect Dis. July 2009;9(7):439-47. 81 Refs
    Richard L Oehler1; Ana P Velez; Michelle Mizrachi; Jorge Lamarche; Sandra Gompf
    1Division of Infectious Disease and International Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa, FL 33611, USA.

    Article Abstract

    Bite infections can contain a mix of anaerobes and aerobes from the patient's skin and the animal's oral cavity, including species of Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Fusobacterium, and Capnocytophaga. Domestic cat and dog bite wounds can produce substantial morbidity and often require specialised care techniques and specific antibiotic therapy. Bite wounds can be complicated by sepsis. Disseminated infections, particularly those caused by Capnocytophaga canimorsus and Pasteurella multocida, can lead to septic shock, meningitis, endocarditis, and other severe sequelae. An emerging syndrome in veterinary and human medicine is meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections shared between pets and human handlers, particularly community-acquired MRSA disease involving the USA300 clone. Skin, soft-tissue, and surgical infections are the most common. MRSA-associated infections in pets are typically acquired from their owners and can potentially cycle between pets and their human acquaintances.

    Animal bite wounds are amongst the most common types of traumatic injuries in humans. The organisms isolated from these wounds generally reflect the oral flora of the biting animal, and may be fastidious in nature and difficult to identify. This study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of Eikenella corrodens, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas and Prevotella spp. in supragingival dental plaque collected from the right maxillary canine and carnassial teeth and the right mandibular canine tooth of dogs. In part one of the study, 30 dogs were used. E. corrodens was found in 62% of these dogs and 44% of individual plaque samples. A. actinomycetemcomitans was not detected in any of the dogs sampled. In part two, 34 dogs were used to determine the prevalence of the black pigmented anaerobic bacilli (Porphyromonas and Prevotella spp.). Porphyromonas gingivalis was present in 68% of these dogs and 47% of individual plaque samples. Prevotella intermedia was present in 44% of the dogs and 23% of individual plaque samples. The recently described Porphyromonas canoris, Porphyromonas salivosa, Porphyromonas cangingivalis, Porphyromonas cansulci, Porphyromonas crevioricanis and Prevotella denticola species were isolated from only 9%, 6%, 3%, 3%, 3% and 3% of dogs respectively. Porphyromonas gingivicanis was not isolated from any of the animals sampled. In conclusion, black-pigmented anaerobic bacilli were isolated from 91% of the animals sampled and therefore constitute a significant risk with respect to bite wound infections. It is also suggested that the prevalence of E. corrodens in wound infections has been underestimated in previous reports because of use of inappropriate techniques for detecting this organism.

  3. And more:


    Why your housecat's trite little bite could cause you quite a fright: a study of domestic felines on the occurrence and antibiotic susceptibility of Pasteurella multocida.
    Zoonoses Public Health. October 2008;55(8-10):507-13.
    A Freshwater1
    1Alumna of the College of Wooster, Wooster, OH 43228, USA.

    And yes, these pertain to animal bites, but that means that the bacteria is living happily there, waiting to get lapped up by someone wanting to get some Youtube fame. Also, these references, though by no means complete, don't even touch on parasites that are transmitted by fecal oral route.... Or in the case of toilet paper mouth, fecal, oral (pet), oral (you).

    So, if someone wants to risk picking up something nasty from a bout of tongue hockey with their pet, have at it.

  4. You know, I sometimes feed my dog a bit of food off my plate with a fork, but I don't eat with that fork again, it's at the end of the meal. My almost 2 year old dog will mark her 1 year anniversary of cancer in May, so giving her a nice tasty people food bite (it's never fat covered or butter filled, and is usually a green bean) makes me feel better, and she's fit and trim and muscular so that's how I rationalize it. If my dog weren't sick she'd not get it, and she's trained so she isn't obnoxious about it, and small pleasures that we can give day by day really help us get through this.

    Her cancer is weird, diagnosed as fibrosarcoma, it started just before she was a year old, she got sick and then the tumor hit. Removed, unclear margins, now she's on low dose/metronomic chemotherapy. Her tumor had regrown to the size of a mango, and then a WEEK into the medication it shrank flat. They've never seen fibrosarcoma respond that way, they had hoped to slow the tumor growth then debulk the tumor. There's not enough to debulk now, and we're going to do another biopsy to rediagnose it and probably an ultrasound to see where the tumor is now. She came from a great breeder who did all the right things and has for all of her lines, really responsible breeding.

    It's just all so odd, but we try to make every day a good and happy day for her, even if it means a small piece of baked chicken from a fork when I'm done with dinner.

  5. I once watched a woman chew up a cracker, then half spit it out so her cockatiel could eat it from her lips! Blech!

    1. Rodentistry, as recommended by this rat site!!i=621768192&k=LjVAE&lb=1&s=A


  6. THANK YOU!!! This has always disgusted me, but many people (My Mother included) don't believe that dog's mouths are full of bacteria. She used to let our dog lick her wounds if she got a cut on her arm or something. I would get SO grossed out, but she was convinced that he had healing saliva. I don't know where she got this crazy info, but that's what she honestly believed.

    Also, my 3 year old pug licked my 4 month old daughter's open mouth when she was on the floor the other day should I be concerned? (This isn't something that has ever happened before or will again, I just looked up for a second and she was right there in the babys face and licked her mouth) (icky I know)