A dog’s mouth is cleaner than…

Of all the strange beliefs of pet-owners, the notion that "a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a person’s" is one of the more surprising.  I suppose it may arise from the fact that you can get a really nasty infection if a person were to bite you (those old "germs that cause bad breath" again).  One has to remember that  you can get a really nasty infection if any kind of animal bites you.  Rabies is pretty unlikely, but bacterial infections are almost guaranteed to occur if the wound cannot be thoroughly cleansed in short order (which would include ALL puncture wounds, as they are deeper than they are wide: "you can’t push a string").

You would think that anyone who has ever owned a dog (and paid the least bit of attention to it) would notice that Fido is hardly particular about what he eats or chews on.  We’re not just talking the occasional experiment here, but day-in, day-out repeat offenders.  Several years ago, some dog food company’s advertisement touted that their product contained "more of what your dog likes".  Man, I thought about what my dog likes, and I wouldn’t have that stuff in my house on a bet!  I had visions of opening the bag and dumping out dead birds, rotten tomatoes, cat poop, dried toad pancakes, and heaven knows what other nasty things.  Sheesh!  And what about all the time they spend licking their hineys?  And licking other hineys?  A dog’s hiney might be cleaner than a person’s hiney, but their mouth?  Give me a break.

My receptionist’s daughter took this strange belief as the topic of her science fair project.  Several times each day for several days, she took culture swabs from the mouths of their Labrador Retrievers, her own mouth, and her parents’ mouths.  Before eating, after eating, after brushing, first thing in the morning, lots of times.  Each and every time, the dogs were the hands-down winners in numbers and variety of bacterial colonies.  It was a prize-winning science fair project.

Come to think of it, that’s only natural: this is a prize-winning strange belief.

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