Dear M.A.:

I give my dinner plate to Queenie the Loveable Lab every night, and will lick it clean (except when we have broccoli). But why when she's through is the plate so slimy? It's got this layer of goo on it. Do we need doggie mouthwash?

-- Judy, the net

Gack! Nothing personal, Judy, but the elves and I will have to turn down that generous dinner invitation. Try as we might, the cracked staff here at mAlice Chiropractic and Quantum Physics (LLC) couldn't rouse an expert in dog spit. We checked in with dogsperts of the veterinarian persuasion, but they could hardly stop snickering long enough to formulate an answer. Dog spit serves about the same function as people spit: clump food and bacteria together, moisten whatever's being chewed, and kick-start digestion. If-- we repeat-- if dog spit is gooier than people spit, it might be to compensate for the fact that dogs sweat through their mouths, which would naturally dilute saliva. Our vets guess you also have a particularly wet-mouthed dog. Lovable, but juicy. And of course, remember that bird spit, termite spit, and fish spit are sticky enough to be used in nest building. And of course there are spit curls, spitballs� If human saliva is sticky enough to make your hair stick to your face or baseballs stick to your fingers, we're probably not so different from your pedigreed plate washers. Next time, you lick the plate and see what happens.

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