Dog Saliva – Does it Have Healing Powers?
Dog saliva and healing powers, major controversial issues in the world of dogs and humans. Add that to what comes to mind when we are faced with slurpy sloppy dog kisses dripping with dog saliva about three inches from our nose, tail wagging a mile-a-minute. Yummy… With that image in mind, we are faced with two questions, “Does dog saliva heal?” and “Will dog saliva make you sick?”, both at the core of this doggie’ controversy.
Credit: Jordan Walker, owner of Coops & Cages
Have you ever noticed how dog moms would lick their pups? They would lovingly clean them with their saliva while puppies on the other hand will need not worry about anything else except make sure that they get their milk from their mom’s breast. This is what separates mammals from reptiles. They have maternal instincts, which from a human perspective can be easily summed up as love. Similarly, pet dogs would shower their human companions with the same affection, licking their faces. But is dog saliva considered healthy for you? According to recent studies, a pet dog’s saliva may indeed have natural healing chemicals, just as hypothesized in the past. This may be a confirmation that dogs licks their wounds because their saliva is a medicine itself. These are the three things found in it that are said to have healing properties:
- Nerve Growth Factor. NGF has been found beneficial in neuronal andnon-neuronal biological activities. Aside from that, this protein has the ability to speed up the process of wound healing. NGF has been tested in both diabetic and non-diabetic mice, and both have responded well as a wound treatment. The same positive results were also seen in ulcerations of the skin.
- Lysozyme. This is an enzyme that has the capability to attack the walls of bacteria, eventually killing it. Lysozyme was accidentally discovered by Alexander Fleming when he was researching for a possible medical antibiotic. However, lysozyme was only helpful as a topical solution because it was too huge of a molecule to travel in between cells.
- Histatins. Wounds in the mouth have been observed to heal faster compared to skin lesions. Histatins, a simple protein found in animal saliva, has been found as the major closing agent that helps in wound healing.
Possible Human Threats Found in Dog Saliva
Now that the healing properties of dog saliva has been established, you may now be thinking that letting it kiss your face or lick your wound is a great idea. But wait! You also need to know the not-so-desirable things found in it. Check out the following:
- Bacteria. There has been a claim saying that a dog’s tongue is cleaner than that of humans. Do you honestly believe this? What do you usually put in your mouth? A soggy sock? Dirty ball? Or spoiled food? Now, you must be thinking that this sounds absolutely ridiculous. But not to a pet dog. It will not have qualms tasting or playing tug-of-war with the things mentioned earlier…or worse! They do not have an idea what bacteria mean and will mostly end up licking bacteria-laden things.
- Viruses. Aside from bacterial infection, dog saliva may contain certain viruses, deadlier than the common cold. While a common cold will go away after needed bed rest and vitamins, rabies on the other hand could kill you. And the worst part? Dogs infected with rabies will only show symptoms 13 days after contracting the disease.
- Parasites. Dog tongues may already be culturing some unwanted parasites in it. How could this happen? Remember how they like to lick everything? Well, they could have licked their anus or worse, their feces at that too. Or those of another dog. Now, the big worms that you can see are not the main problem because you can just easily spot these and remove them. But what about the unseen eggs?
Concrete Evidence of Dog Saliva As a Human Threat
Many owners may be saying now that if it is indeed true that pet licks could make them sick, then how come they remain healthy despite observing this practice? Now, how weak or strong the human system will vary from person to person. While there are those who are well able to fight off common infections, some on the other hand easily succumb to these. Records and some studies say that there are indeed incidences where dog licks have been tied to serious human illnesses. Roundworm parasites commonly found in dogs’ digestive tracts are known to cause blindness in humans. In the March 2008 issue of the Journal of Microbiology, it featured how a healthy lady was infected with Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria after her pet dog licked her wound. Oral health could also be compromised when you choose to share kisses with your pet dog. In a study conducted by Japanese researchers in 2011, they collected dental plaque from canine and human subjects. This showed that certain bacteria in the mouths of both subjects can be transferred through kissing. The problem with this is that periodontics is linked to the peridontophathic bacteria. This disease can potentially cause diabetes, kidney failure, and heart disease.
Recommendations for Dog Owners re: Dog Saliva
As you can see, there are several types of health conditions linked to dog licks. However, you should not also disregard the other side of the story- the health benefits that pooches can give. To prevent your pet dog from transferring unwanted bacteria, viruses and parasites, then you should prevent him from licking your face especially on the mouth. If you have wounds, better cover these with bandages. Babies should have adult supervision when they are playing with a dog or puppy. Furthermore, prevent internal parasitic infestation though regular dog deworming.
There are more than a dozen ways for you to show your love for your pet dog. Kissing could be one of them, but take note that this can be dangerous for you and your pet. Instead, why not invest in just being together doing some of the activities that both of you love such as exercising? Or giving it its favorite treat? *************************************
Author: Jordan Walker
Jordan Walker says he found true and unpretentious friendship in his pet dogs. He loves writing about them, sharing his experience as a pet owner at Coops And Cages and in websites like this one. In this article, he gave excellent information on the safety of dog saliva for humans.
He is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages