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We know that dog kisses are just part of the package when it comes to being a pooch parent. They love you, you love them…the licks happen.
And while some may find that a little…too close for comfort, most dog parents, even the ones who are not as affectionate with their pets, usually understand that dog kisses are just to be expected, and don’t really pay attention to those who have cautioned not to let your dog ‘kiss’ you.
But now scientists are really getting serious about the warnings, saying that dogs carry organisms that only their body systems were designed to battle, and human exposure could leave us vulnerable to pretty serious conditions.
According to Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, an assistant professor of medicine at Drexel University’s College of Medicine, dogs carry organisms that humans do not–organisms that we humans are not built to ward off. Dr. Leni Kaplan, from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary medicine said that bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter could be transmitted to us when we allow our dogs to kiss us because they are zoonotic organisms, which means animals can pass them to people.
Dogs’ saliva has proteins that enable them to battle these organisms, but humans do not, meaning if and when we contract them, we could become very sick. According to Dr. Nandi, though dog saliva should not cause any problems for a healthy person if it comes in contact with intact skin, it does carry many zoonotic pathogens and could make one sick if a human was to absorb any pathogens through mucous membranes–typically found in our mouths, noses and eyes. When we allow our dogs to lick our faces, we make ourselves more vulnerable to that transmission simply due to proximity.
But what does this mean for those of us who can’t imagine a day without pet smooches? Basically, because you know you’ll let your dog lick your face, be sure to try your best to keep Rover from those places where there is soft, wet tissue–try your best to keep his tongue away from your eyes, nose, mouth or any cuts (anywhere on the body, for that matter) so as to reduce transmission possibility.
And, for goodness’ sake…if you are going to keep letting your dog kiss you, try not to think about all the places their muzzle’s been. It’s not like they don’t love to sniff other dogs’ poop or pee spots or anything. Even if their saliva was clean,
don’t imagine all the disgusting things your dog sticks his snout in.
Now, pucker up!
Lori Ennis is a wife, mama and friend to all animals. A self-confessed “Hot Mess,” she lives wherever the Marine Corps takes her husband. Currently, that’s Maryland with her very spoiled Labrador Retriever-mix rescue pups and a ton of saltwater fish just tanking around. Lori’s family has fostered dogs for years, mostly Golden Retrievers, and knows no home is complete without an animal buddy (or seven)!