Two Myths I Commonly Hear About Dogs From Dog Lovers (Updated)

I know facts can be the killjoy to personal feelings and beliefs… trust me, I know. However, here and now I wish to tread on the “good feelings” one gets from the belief in silly things heard of but never checked out. Often this deals with things like political positions and religious beliefs… but here I wade into the pet-owner world.

Firstly I wish to deal with a myth I just recently heard that dogs saliva heal your wounds well. This is a myth! Here for instance is some great veterinary info on the topic… and after reading it I may actually shoo dogs away from doing this:

It’s not likely that your dog will pass on any illnesses to you through its saliva. Many of the bacteria in your dog’s saliva is specific to canines, and won’t harm you. However, it’s a good idea to discourage licking to reduce any chances of becoming sick from germs. Here are some myths about dog saliva and their associated facts.

Myths About Dog Saliva

Because dog saliva contains a special enzyme which promotes healing of the dog’s wound, some pet owners think it will have the same effect on their own cuts. The enzymes in your dogs saliva only work on the wounds of dogs. Allowing your dog to lick your cuts could lead to infection from any germs the dog may have in its mouth.

Facts About Dog Saliva

One potential health risk associated with being licked by your dog is the transmission of roundworms. These intestinal parasites are commonly found in kittens and puppies and are passed through licking. Symptoms of roundworm are coughing, a fever and headaches. Of course if your dog has been given deworming medication, and is tested on a regular basis, your risk of contracting roundworm is slim. Leptospirosis, salmonella and E. coli are other illnesses that can be transmitted by your dog’s saliva; ….

One site even goes as far as to warn that “People with weakened immune systems and young children probably should not have direct contact with dog or cat saliva.” So, strike that ol’ wives tale, bottom line is this:

Some people believe that the dogs’ saliva can heal the wounds as well. It is absolutely wrong. Dogs are different specie with diverse specifications. Their saliva is useful for them and but not for humans.

Okay, let us move onto “hypoallergenic dogs.” This is another myth born from my wife going into sneezing/stuffy nose fits at a co-workers house with poodles. She mentioned that her dogs are “hypoaalergenic.” I too thought this was a breed that would in the least cut down on my wife’s reaction to the dog. Upon further study, I was wrong. Here is the Globe and Mail comments on a recent study:

Forget about that labradoodle: A new report suggests household allergens are no lower in homes that keep hypoallergenic dogs versus hairier, dander-heavy breeds.

“We found no scientific basis to the claim hypoallergenic dogs have less allergen,” senior author Christine Cole Johnson said in a release.

“Exposure to a dog early in life provides protection against dog allergy development. But the idea that you can buy a certain breed of dog and think it will cause less allergy problems for a person already dog-allergic is not borne out by our study,” said Dr. Johnson, who chairs the Department of Public Health Sciences at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital.

…read more…

And this from HuffPo, via Dr. Karen Becker (Proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian):

A 2011 study published in The American Journal of Rhinology and Allergy reveals the amount of dog allergens found in households with dogs does not vary depending on the breed. In other words, families with so called “hypoallergenic” dogs are living with the same level of allergens in their homes as people who own non-hypoallergenic canines.

Study researchers measured the level of the most common dog allergen, Canis familiaris 1, or Can f 1, found in the homes of 173 families that owned one dog. Out of the 173 samples, only 10 had less than measurable amounts of Can f 1. No matter what type of dog was in the home, there was no significant difference in the level of allergens measured.

No One Knows How the Myth of Allergy-Free Dogs Got Started

“I have no idea where this whole concept came from. It’s been around a long time, and maybe people associated it with shedding. I think it’s just a legend,” says Dr. Christine Cole Johnson, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and senior author of the study.

The scientists who conducted the study discovered 60 of 161 recognized breeds were named as hypoallergenic on various Internet websites. However, there is no official list of hypoallergenic breeds, though the American Kennel Club (AKC) does suggest 11 canine candidates for people with allergies. The kennel club only suggests certain breeds might be beneficial for allergy sufferers — it doesn’t recommend or endorse any specific breed.

…read more…

Bottom Line:

No matter how they did their comparisons, the scientists found no statistically significant differences in the levels of Can f 1 in dust samples in those 163 homes.

While cute… someone asked this question: “My dog licks my baby in the face, should I make him stop?”


There are several thousand cases of children going blind from hookworm infections that are passed to their eyes from dogs every year. [Cats too!] Children can also be infected with hookworms from dogs licking them in the face if the dog is infected. The most common bacterial infection that causes GI upset in humans resides in dogs’ mouths.

We actually have a brochure at work that we give to parents about infection that can be passed from dogs to children via dogs’ mouths, and before we started giving out the brochure, we actually had a client whose daughter got hookworms from their dog.

If it were me, I’d make the dog stop liking the child’s face and train it to lick other places (or to just not lick at all…)

Hope this helped!

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