Cute slobbery kisses from your furry canine friends might melt your heart, but they can also cause some fairly serious health issues. You might have heard that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, but that’s a big myth! So if you or your loved ones enjoy a little puppy love now and then, you should never let your dog lick you … especially your face.
Why is this harmful?
Most animal’s mouths are loaded with bacteria and viruses, and man’s best friend is no exception. Not surprising when you think about some of their habits. They stick their noses just about anywhere and will eat just about anything … including dog droppings. And if you’ve ever seen dogs greet each other, you know their way of saying hello isn’t as sanitary as a kiss on the cheek.
Their muzzles carry all kinds of organisms. Some of which are beneficial to the dog, but simply not tolerated by humans. So while the presence of this bacteria typically doesn’t impact the dog’s health, it does pose a threat to yours.
What’s the risk?
A dog’s saliva coming into contact with your skin is not extremely likely to cause any problems as the skin tends to absorb only a small amount. However, saliva and pathogens are much more likely to be absorbed through the mucus membranes of your eyes, nose and mouth. This is why a dog licking your face can lead to serious infection.
Dr. Leni K. Kaplan of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine advises that bacteria commonly passed from dogs include clostridium, E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter (which can cause severe gastrointestinal disease in humans).
MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), gum disease and intestinal parasites such as hookworms and roundworms can also be passed from dog to human.
These infections can cause symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, fever, skin lesions, fatigue, abdominal pain and shortness of breath, so you’ll want to carefully consider the risk you’re willing to take for those doggy kisses.
If you’re a dog owner, I’m betting that your pet is an important part of your tribe. Why wouldn’t it be? Dogs give us companionship, friendship, loyalty and unconditional love. You can give all of these things right back to your dog … and protect your health. So keep showing that love and affection. But consider saving those kisses for your two-legged pack members.
Make healthy living a part of every day.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
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- Keep your pet healthy. Make sure your pet is current on all vaccines, and do your best to keep it away from the feces of other animals.
- Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water to prevent the spread of bacteria and illness.
- Keep loving your four-legged friends! While it’s important to protect your health, there are plenty of ways to show your dog affection without letting it lick your face. In fact, there are many health benefits of owning a dog!