Kissing your dog can cause gum disease: study

Lia Grainger
Shine On

Don't kiss your dogs on the mouth, people!

That's the message of a new study out of Japan, that found dog owners who kiss their pets or let them lick their mouths could catch canine gum disease, or give human disease to their pets.

The study, conducted by a team of researchers in Osaka, Japan, examined the dental health of 66 dogs and 81 members of 64 dog-owning families. It found that a type of periodontitis-related bacteria commonly found in dogs was also found in 16 per cent of the the human dog owners they examined. Germs normally found only in humans were also found in the dogs examined.

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In case you're wondering, periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that infects the tissue responsible for keeping your teeth in place. It can lead to bone decay, spaces between the gum and teeth, and even loose or lost teeth. The awful sounding symptoms include horrible breath and red-purple bleeding gums. Apparently most dogs have periodontitis, but for some reason, only about 5 per cent will ever develop a cavity. Lucky pooches.

The study was published in the journal Archives of Oral Biology, and has at least one veterinarian jumping to the defence of dog oral hygiene.

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Paul Maza of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University — who has previously defended dog kissingtells Fox News that "many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria in humans."

"If owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, such as brushing their teeth, a pet's mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth," says Maza.

He adds that though fecal matter is sometimes consumed by dogs, it is usually swallowed and so clears the mouth quickly. How comforting.