Why Do Dogs Not Get Cavities?

Adrienne Farricelli

Dogs do not get cavities to the extent that humans do, but why is that?

Dogs do not get cavities as humans do, and experts have been wondering why. Of course, knowing why is important, not only to pique ones curiosity, but also to better understand why humans are so prone to cavities and how to unlock the secrets behind a cavity-free mouth. Common sense suggests that it's likely a matter of humans eating more sugary foods compared to dogs, but even when Fido is fed sweets, his mouth remains healthy, what gives? Only research has the answer to this mystery.

The Role of Saliva

Saliva is a fluid known to be housed in the mouth and for bathing human and dog teeth along with soft tissues in the mouth. Saliva is composed by several elements including calcium (Ca), phosphate (P), sodium (Na) and potassium (K). Saliva also has a particular pH. While saliva protects the mouth by providing moisture which helps keep the oral cavity clean, it is also true that saliva is a nutritional source for bacteria and this promotes the formation of plaque and tartar.

In general, high alkaline pH values help prevent the formation of cavities, but the drawback is that such values promote calculus formation which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

What Research Says

According to a study, in dogs, salivary pH along with the concentrations of Ca, K, and Na are higher compared to the saliva in people. Conversely, P concentration were significantly lower. The less acidic pH of dog saliva, measuring 8.50 to 8.65, while in humans is closer to 6.5 to 7.5, combined with the higher concentrations of calcium, explains why dogs have fewer dental cavities respect to humans.

Did you know? Interestingly, Labrador Retrievers were found to have higher concentration of salivary calcium and phosphorous compared to Dachshunds and Jack Russell Terriers.


pH Values and Mineral Content of Saliva in Different Breeds of Dogs Lavy, E. et. al. Israel Journal of Veterinary Medicine  Vol. 67 (4)  December 2012