My husband insists that dog saliva has some substance in it that kills germs so their mouths and tongues are always clean. I think this is baloney, and I don't want the dog licking my face after he has just used his tongue for personal hygiene. Can you please tell us who is right?
This reminds me of a pretty good joke, but like most pretty good jokes it is fairly tasteless so we won't be going into that today.
Anyway, this business about the cleanliness of a dog's mouth is sort of baloney, but not full-blown baloney. It is semi-baloney.
A lot of people believe a dog's saliva has antiseptic qualities to it. After all, the Bible tells us the dogs came and licked Lazarus' sores as he was begging at the rich man's gate. Not that it helped much, because Lazarus ended up dying anyway, although I don't think it was the sores that killed him. I don't remember.
Anyway, it is true that dog saliva can kill germs. Big deal. So can yours. Human saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that kills certain bacteria, and dogs have the same stuff.
As for the cleanliness of the dog's mouth, it depends on the dog and what it has been up to. You have to bear in mind, as one piece I read put it, that a dog's tongue is both its washrag and its toilet paper.
A dog's mouth is full of bacteria. So is yours. So do you want old Rex slobbering big wet kisses all over your face?
The thing of it is that a dog's germs are dog germs, and a human's germs are human germs. In other words, they are species-specific.
So, assuming the dog hasn't just come from dining at the garbage can or some other indelicate business, chances are a dog kiss probably won't hurt you much.
In fact, many people will tell you that you are better off getting bitten by a dog than by a human because there is less chance of infection from a dog bite. Personally, I wouldn't care much to be bitten by either, but there you have it.