It’s inevitable with an affectionate dog that he or she will get in a few licks on your face from time to time.
We also are drawn to sometimes think about the “ick factor” when we observe where that adorable dog’s tongue has been beside just in his puppy chow. And of course, some dogs just have a tendency to drool, whether it’s a breed thing like for those sloppy chops of the St. Bernard or behavior-triggered like Rover shares a little spit with that old tennis ball he finds so fun to keep dropping in your lap.
Some people believe that since dogs lick their own wounds to help them heal, they should be able to work the same magic on human cuts and scrapes, too.
The ancient Egyptians used to praise dog saliva for its healing ability. They even had temples devoted to dogs where people would encourage pups to lick their open wounds and heal them from illnesses.
That might seem a little weird now because we know a lot about germs that seems to contradict what the ancients knew.
That is until now.
New research suggests that those puppy kisses may actually be good for you.
Wait, Aren’t There Germs in Dog Saliva?
Just like our mouths are full of germs, your dog’s mouth is teeming with bacteria and parasites that can infect you and your family members.
From salmonella and E. coli to worms and giardia, you have to be careful about your playful dog’s licks all the time. You see, when a dog licks his bum, the nasty bacteria released from his intestines may move from his bum to his mouth.
You’ll be receiving this transfer of nasties every time your dog licks you. Yuck!
So how can this be good for you?
Research on Dog Saliva
University of Arizona researcher Charles Raison, MD, believes that dog saliva may have a “probiotic” effect that may help humans “develop healthy bacteria colonies that in turn boost the immune system.”
Maybe they’ll start adding dog saliva to yogurt?
Dog saliva also has lysozyme, which prevents certain bacteria from growing, histatins that help skin cells heal a wound, and nerve growth factor (NGF). Scientists at the University of Florida discovered that when a wound is doused with the NGF in saliva, it heals twice as fast.
But this evidence is still up for debate.
Psychology Today says that licking a wound may be positive just for the simple act of loosening debris to keep the wound clean so it heals well. After all, a dog can’t bandage his wound himself.
So What Should You Do?
Dogs have been licking their wounds since the dawn of their existence, but you definitely shouldn’t let them lick yours.
Sure, there may be some benefits that scientists are still working out, but the risk of having other unhealthy bacteria infect your wound is nothing to mess around with.
If dog saliva was really some magical cure-all, we would see puppy drool bottled and lining the shelves of our pharmacies right now.
Zach is a life-long pet owner and enthusiast. He was born into a family with a dog named Murphy, and since then has owned several other dogs, mice, ferrets, fish, geckos, and a cat. This experience has given him the knowledge necessary to help others become excellent pet owners on his website Beyond The Treat with detailed gear, housing, and feeding guides for all pets.