October 19, 2012
Kissing Your Dog Could Give You Gum Disease
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It´s time once again to look to a 90s Romantic Comedy for sage advice to guide us through our every day lives.
In the words of Janeane Garofalo in the 1996 movie “The Truth About Cats and Dogs,” “You can love your pets, but just don´t LOVE your pets.”
Another lesson learned from this film: Be yourself. Don´t try to be Uma Thurman.
It seems the latest from the journal Archives of Oral Biology holds that kissing a dog straight on the mouth can actually exchange diseases between canine and human. It sounds crazy, I know, but Japanese researchers have found that this form of sharing affection with a pet could lead to gum disease.
These aforementioned researchers studied the plaque from 66 dogs and 81 humans. These researchers found this plaque from pet and owner alike at a dog-training school and an animal clinic in 2011. The researchers then took these plaque samples and began scraping them to find a specific species of bacteria (known as the periodontopathic species) which is known to cause gum disease.
According to their sample data, the dogs (thanks to their generally lax approach to dental hygiene) were more likely to have this sort of gum-eating bacteria than their human friends. There were 3 kinds of this plaque which were especially prevalent amongst the canine´s canines: Porphyromonas gulae, which was present in 71.2% of the samples; Tannerella forsythia, which was found in 77.3% of the samples and finally; and the appetizingly pleasant sounding Campylobacter rectus, which was found in 66.7% of the samples.
According to the data, these bacteria were less common in the samples from the humans, but they did show up from time to time.
By the numbers, Porphyromonas gulae popped up in 16% of the humans tested, Tannerella forsythia in 30.9%, and Campylobacter rectus in 21%.
It was the Porphyromonas gulae which was most often found in both dogs and their owners, showing up in 13 humans and their dogs.
"These results suggest that several periodontopathic species could be transmitted between humans and their companion dogs, though the distribution of periodontopathic species in both is generally different," wrote the researchers in their paper.
As one might expect, not everyone agrees these bacteria can be transferred via a sloppy wet kiss, nor do they agree that these bacteria, even the disgusting sounding Campylobacter rectus, can be dangerous to humans.
In a March report on Fox News, Dr. Paul Maza, co-director of the health center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, said animals and their pets share the same kind of bacteria, and that our human mouths may be no dirtier than the animals we keep in our houses who lick their hindquarters.
“Because most of the bacteria and viruses in a dog´s mouth are the same as in a person´s mouth, it is safe to kiss a dog, just like a person. You can probably catch more from kissing a human than a dog or cat,” said Dr. Maza, speaking to Fox News.
He even mentioned that those pet owners who take the time to brush their dog´s mouth could end up with an animal who´s mouth is cleaner than their own.
As a general rule of thumb, human people should always be careful and even choosy about whom or what they decide to smooch. If you absolutely must go to town on your dog, maybe take a few minutes to brush their teeth first?
Actually, the same could probably be said for humans, too.