Warning – a must read: Does your dog lick your face?

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Yes, we love our dogs and aren’t they the best when it comes to cheering us up at the end of an especially tough day? All that said, however, reminds us that those very kisses with their tongues licking our faces, lips and eyes may very well be the cause of some nasty diseases carried by our very best canine pals.

First, we must dismiss the old adage that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth. If you doubt the advice, just consider where your dog looks, watches and smells on one of his daily walks. Now if you have one of those mischievous canines who lurks in the kitchen garbage looking for a discarded morsel to chew on, consider the bacteria that little feat carries.  And how do dogs greet each other? Oh my! According to the New York Times,  Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, an assistant professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, notes a dog’s saliva has proteins that may help heal its own wounds, he points out there are some organisms unique to dogs that humans can not tolerate or combat.

“Dogs spend half their life with their noses in nasty corners or hovering over dog droppings,” reported John Oxford, a professor of virology and bacteriology at London’s prestigious Queen Mary University. “It is not just what is carried in saliva.”

Although we all might have a bit of trouble with the pronunciations of bacteria such as Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, it all lives in a dog’s saliva and has the ability to cause fatal infections including sepsis which can lead to death. Initial symptoms include a fever, sweats, lack of appetite and energy. Reports indicate the more dogs interact with other dogs, the more likely they could be catching the bacteria which includes E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter.

So what to look for if your dog might be carrying some funky bacteria? Experts advise pet parents to check for dandruff, hair loss and darkened patches on their skin and coat. Another common infection frequently spread by dogs is ringworm and even MRSA – potentially fatal to humans but not to dogs.

All of this doesn’t mean you can’t let your dog lick you at all, and really who of us who love our dogs are going to heed that kind of advice anyway?

“When dog saliva touches intact human skin, especially in a healthy person, it is extremely unlikely to cause any problems, as there will be very little absorption,” cites Dr. Leni Kaplan, a lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The best advice for pet parents, however is to avoid letting Fido lick your nose, mouth and eyes. Many times dogs don’t like to be kissed and hugged anyway, but for that extra measure of precaution, let’s just be careful.

(Dog lick your face photo via Pixabay)

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  1. Well I imagine that my dog’s mouth is a little bit cleaner than the shopping carts at the grocery stores but yet most of us touch those without wiping them clean first. Your body does build up an immunity to bacterias. My dog is still going to lick my face except not in my mouth, icky!

  2. I don’t buy that. You need to study ( even though you are so well educated by big pharma) about the enzymes in dog saliva. I am aware we ALL have demadex mites which are not exclusive to dogs. Demadex in dogs infests when a dog’s immune system is weak or destroyed . Their saliva enzymes kill the germs you speak of, even after their greeting of sniffing back ends. I am 81. I am aware that if i swallow a dog flea infested with tapeworm i might get tapeworm. In all my years i have never had a tapeworm so i guess will the tens of thousands of kisses that i so enjoy i must not have swallowed a flea. You might be a germaphobe for all i know.

  3. I guess I should thank you for the advice, but me giving up my puppy kisses isn’t going to happen. We are besieged by germs all around us, I have lived with dogs for most of my 69 years and haven’t succumbed to it yet, I’ll make sure to let you know if I do.

  4. Well well well more “experts” telling us what is what. You know what kills, expert, life kills, and very well. And guess what? Do you know what death brings? New life ! Imagine that, expert.


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