Letting Your Dog Lick off the Dishes – Is it OK or Disgusting?

You have a dog. And a plate full of leftovers. The simple solution of course is to put the plate down on the floor and let your dog clean it off for you? Most dogs will lick a dish so clean that it looks like it came straight from the dishwasher, right? Plus, isn’t the old saying true that dogs have cleaner mouths than humans? Some people are dish lick allowing dog owners, while others are adamantly against it. There are even some folks in this world who allow their dogs to stick their heads in the dishwasher and clean the scrap food remnants from inside thinking that the hot water/sanitize cycle will most certainly get off any germs left behind, right?

So is this ‘letting the dog lick the dishes’ trend simply barbaric and disgusting, nothing more than a personal choice – or is there actually any danger in it? Chances are you have seen plenty of people letting a dog lick their hands or face, or even sharing an ice cream with their dog – so is there any big deal about a dog licking a dish that will be eventually washed?

According to animal experts, there is some danger in this behavior, and the dangers are actually to your pet not you. Despite your canines love of your cuisine, human food is quite simply not an appropriate consumption option for dogs. Our foods contain grease and fat and sugars in such high quantities that they can be harmful to your dog’s digestive system, and cause long-term health problems for your pet. Also, those leftover rib and chicken bones can split and splinter and become choking hazards for your pet in an instant. Human food given to dogs is the number one cause of pancreatitis in dogs, and can cause a malady of other health issues as well. None of which are desirable. Truth is, your dog doesn’t know what is good for them and leave this responsibility up to you. Sure, the leftover steak and ground beef will give you a friend for life, but there is some liability in making a friend under such coercion.

Another issue of course, is that you will be encouraging some rude dog behavior that will the cause your dog to beg at the table, jump on the countertops, and expect to receive a dish every time someone is eating. Certainly, it’s up to you whether having your dog sit by your dinner table is appropriate or not, and this is a matter of your personal decision. However feeding your dog from the table regularly, will certainly send your dog the message that it is okay to eat from your dishes. Which can make leaving that freshly grilled steak on the counter or table unattended for even a split second, a dangerous act in canine trust.

Many people of course worry about the germs that they will be getting from their dogs. While a dog’s mouth may be clean, it still carries germs. If your dog is outside and eats feces or dead animals, or even bugs – or picks up things from the ground such as balls or sticks, then you can bet that his or her mouth is not germ free. This makes no mention of the fact that your dog literally uses his or her tongue as a washcloth to cleanse areas of his or her body that are particularly gross. Will that same tongue cleaning your dishes leave a filthy bacterial residue that you cannot get off? Probably not. If you wash the dishes in hot water or in the dishwasher on a sanitary cycle, then you can expect the germs to be washed away as well. Even if you hand wash the dishes with antibacterial soap and hot water, the dishes should be sufficiently clean for even someone with a compromised immune system to eat off of. That being said, the thought that your dogs tongue, which also touched your dogs anus – touched your plates and forks – can be enough to curtail even the strongest appetite.

At the end of the day, millions of dogs will happily lick of ceramic dishes and clean pots for their owners. Hopefully, these owners will not take the cliché that a dog’s mouth is clean too far and stray from actually washing the dog germs off the dishes once the food residue is gone. And, other dog owners will stick to their guns that they do not want their dogs tongues anywhere near the plates and cutlery that they will eat off. Different strokes for different folks. But remember, that feeding your dog human.

14 thoughts on “Letting Your Dog Lick off the Dishes – Is it OK or Disgusting?”

    1. Its perfectly ok if the pot is washed. That said I’d have a hard time eating food off a plate that a dog had just ate off of 🙂

      When growing up my one aunt always let her dogs lick the plates clean; I am not a 100% sure if those plates didn’t go right up to the cupboard when the hounds were finished

      1. I agree it is gross but sometimes my cat is hungry and I am too lazy to scrape the food off in his bowl so I let him lick it clean. It says this on the bottle of Clorox bleach: The correct procedure for sanitizing dishes with Clorox® Regular Bleach is to first wash and rinse dishes, glassware, and utensils. After washing, soak for at least 2 minutes in a solution of 2 teaspoons of bleach per 1 gallon of water, drain and air dry. This is also a procedure that restaurants use, their plates are used by a lot of different people. Bleach also kills HIV, so it never hurts to follow sanitizing protocol. Dishwashers only clean dishes they don’t disinfect or sanitize them.

        1. Charles Woodrow Ramseur

          A dishwasher does not sterilize, but it does clean and sanitize. For home food preparation, that’s all that’s necessary.

  1. I can’t imagine anyone actually putting a dish right into the cupboard after a dog has licked it! That seems insulting to even suggest that someone would do that. I use my small saucers to feed my dog because he eats food I prepare specially for him that I warm a little in the microwave for him. Of course that dish is rinsed with hot water and then put into the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning! I feel very safe using it for any other purpose knowing that it is germ free just as any dish containing germy food like raw meat which I also wash in the dishwasher.

  2. That’s why there are these things called dog bowls. They should from their bowls not the plates from the table. That’s disgusting and nauseating altogether.

  3. Let'em clean the dishes

    My pack of dogs clean all the dishes before they go in dishwasher. It’s their job and they are happy to do it.

  4. Andrew Caldwell

    The problem has very little to do with hygiene, it’s all about habits. The next time you have friends over and one of them put your lovely prepared food on the table to go and wash there hands, don’t be surprised if your little angle has decided to help themselves to, what he or she believes is their food.

  5. A dishwasher that has a sanitizing feature uses an extended hot-water rinse to kill germs. The National Sanitation Foundation has set a standard named NSF/ANSI Standard 184, which means that dishwashers bearing this certification kill 99.99 percent of bacteria when operated on the “sanitize” setting. In order to be certified, they also must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit during final rinse. Dishwashers that don’t have this certification don’t reach temperatures high enough to sterilize items. Does your dishwasher actually sanitize? Stick a cup right side up on the top rack with a heavy duty waterproof thermometer and see if your water actually gets that hot.

  6. I have seen humans do things with their mouths which would make a dog blush ! What about all the terrible things that humans spread to other humans like AIDS, hepatitis and the flue ? I have never heard of a dog infecting a human with those awful diseases ! Whatever you do, be sure that the dishes are sanitary before putting them away, and no one will get sick.

  7. A few simple rules and everyone’s happy:
    1. Don’t feed your dog certain items (garlic, onions, mustard, chocolate, cooked bones)
    2. Put the plate or bowl on the floor by their feeding dish, or scrape leftovers into the dish
    3. Don’t overfeed

    There. That’s all you need to worry about. No dog is going to get on the counters or table unless you’ve allowed it or encouraged it. I’ve had 5 long-lived, healthy, happy puppers. Haters and OCD’ers gonna hate and OCD.

  8. My story is a little different than dogs licking their owners plates. My girlfriend and I were at the house of friends who own a bulldog. We were eating with them at the table when our friends started mopping slobber off their dogs mouth on a napkin and placing the rolled up napkin on the paper plates they were eating from. I became so disgusted that I couldn’t eat and everyone was asking what was wrong? My girlfriend saw the napkin on the plates but didn’t know that it contained dog slobber until I told her later. After I told her she was appalled as well. Needless to say we will not be eating at that house again.

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