We will be the first to admit that your dog’s saliva is probably not something that is seen as a wonder product by yourself. Sloppy kisses and licking bare skin is their way of showing affection, and while we love to be loved, you will often find yourself reaching for the nearest towel or sleeve to wipe it off.
You’ve probably also had to pick up their toys to put them away at the end of the night and been faced with a sloppy touch.
But the saliva of a dog is actually beneficial for their health and wellbeing and can explain some of their behaviours.
If you have misophonia and can’t stand the sound of dogs licking their paws or cleaning themselves, you should maybe leave the room instead of telling them to stop.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there, but this is why your dog is so sloppy with its tongue…
pH levels of saliva help a dog’s teeth
The pH level of human saliva is 7, so nice and neutral. But with dogs, it is between 7 and 8, making it more alkaline.
This is great for their dental health. It helps keep teeth clean and prevents food particles from sticking to their teeth, which is why they may lick their teeth occasionally.
They do still need them regularly cleaned, however. If the saliva sticks to their teeth without being removed, this is what causes plaque and yellowing so they may need a trip to the vets.
There are no digestive enzymes in their saliva
For humans, the digestive process starts when food is being chewed. This is because human saliva contains digestive enzymes.
But for dogs, the saliva just helps to soften the food in their digestive system for easier passage.
The stomach is where their enzymes are contained, which is why they are so good at swallowing those pieces of chicken immediately when they know you have another bit in your hand. They don’t need to chew as much as us.
Saliva is often an allergic trigger for humans
Pet fur is not always the culprit of many allergies in humans. Dog saliva may contain as many as 12 different allergy-causing protein bands according to a study by The European Journal Of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
When dogs lick their fur, the saliva dries. This is actually thought to be what causes the allergies, not necessarily dander. The particles can also become airborne.
Dog saliva is antibacterial – to dogs
Have you ever had a cut or injury that your dog has been a bit obsessive over licking? There is a reason for this. A dog’s saliva has antibacterial properties. So in the wild, if they injure themselves, grooming can help their wound to heal faster.
Their rough tongue can also help to remove any impurities in an open wound. And, the saliva provides some coolness which numbs the area and reduces pain.
You, as their pack leader, receive this treatment if you are injured too.
These antibacterial properties are specific to dogs, and different breeds have different saliva properties. So, cross-grooming isn’t a good thing. This also means you shouldn’t let them lick human wounds.
They may have just eaten or licked some other disgusting things! So always wash your hands afterwards and don’t let them lick your face!
This is particularly vital if you have open wounds which have not quite healed over.
It can’t pass illnesses on to humans
Most of the illnesses which a dog may suffer from in its lifetime are not able to be passed on to humans, and certainly not through their licking or saliva.
Their saliva is not zoonotic, so won’t cause infections. But there is still the chance they could pass on some commuters such as roundworm. You should always keep on top of your dog’s medical treatment and injections, just in case.