should you let your dog lick your face

Should You Let Your Dog Lick Your Face

The bond you share with your furry companion, your beloved dog, is undeniably one of the purest and simplest relationships in your life. However, there might be moments when you find yourself contemplating whether it’s wise to let your faithful pal to lick your face.

The unfortunate reality is that dog saliva harbors various germs, prompting you to wonder about the potential risks to your well-being. To shed some light on this matter, let’s explore the insights of both a knowledgeable veterinarian and a seasoned family medicine physician.

You just can’t help but wonder about the microbial mysteries concealed within your furry friend’s mouth. Fascinatingly, the American Kennel Club reveals that a dog’s oral cavity houses approximately 600 different types of bacteria, akin to the microbial repertoire found in humans.

While there is some overlap in species, our canine companions also harbor unique germs that our human immune systems are ill-equipped to combat. It’s important to note that certain of these microorganisms possess zoonotic properties, meaning they can effortlessly hop from one species to another, potentially causing infections in the process.

Intriguingly, a groundbreaking genetic study conducted in 2022 and published in the esteemed journal Antibiotics sheds light on the presence of abundant bacteria in canine saliva, bearing transferable antimicrobial resistance genes. These genes, which promote resistance to antibiotics, pose a disconcerting threat to human health. Needless to say, guarding against their transmission is of paramount importance.

Although the likelihood of bacterial infiltration through intact skin is minimal, caution should be exercised when it comes to broken skin and vulnerable mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, and mouth. Dr. Heather Berst, a distinguished veterinarian at Zoetis, underscores the omnipresence of microorganisms—bacteria, yeast, and viruses—within the oral microbiome of both animals and humans.

Should you let your dog lick you face ?

When it comes to the heartwarming ritual of your beloved canine companion licking your face, it’s only natural to wonder about the potential risks involved. Your furry friend, blissfully unaware of the microbial playground residing in their mouth, simply knows that they love you and want to express it in the most adoring way possible. While the chances of transmission from a dog’s lick to your face are relatively small, they are not entirely nonexistent. So, as a responsible dog owner, what should you do?

Dr. Heather Berst, a distinguished veterinarian and a proud dog mom to Dottie, an exuberant rescue Chinese crested dog, understands the delicate balance between love and health concerns. “Every time I come home, my dog Dottie becomes overjoyed and enthusiastically showers my face with licks, her tail wagging furiously—and I allow it. However, I believe it’s essential to have conversations with both your physician and veterinarian if your dog frequently licks your face, as there can be certain risks involved,” she advises.

Both Dr. Berst and Dr. Laura Purdy share the belief that two crucial factors must be considered: the health status of the dog and the overall health of the person being licked. Individuals with compromised immune systems should exercise caution and avoid allowing their dogs to lick their face.

This holds especially true for elderly individuals and children, who may require additional vigilance in such situations. By taking these factors into account, dog owners can make informed decisions regarding the level of risk they are comfortable with when it comes to their furry friend’s affectionate display of love.

When it comes to safeguarding yourself from potential dog germs, several measures can be taken to mitigate risks and prioritize both your health and the well-being of your furry companion.

First and foremost, ensuring regular veterinary care for your pet is essential. This includes vital preventive measures such as vaccines, which significantly decrease the likelihood of transmitting zoonotic diseases to you and your family. Dr. Heather Berst emphasizes the importance of comprehensive veterinary care, stating, “Make sure your pet undergoes parasite testing, receives necessary preventive treatments, and is vaccinated against diseases like rabies.

Regular dental cleanings for your pet are also crucial.” The diet you provide for your dog plays a significant role as well. While raw food diets have gained popularity, many veterinarians, including Dr. Berst, discourage their use due to the increased risk of transmitting food-borne illnesses. Dr. Berst advises caution when interacting with dogs fed raw food, particularly when it comes to allowing them to lick your face.

Another important consideration is being cautious around stray dogs. Strays often scavenge for food on the streets, increasing their chances of consuming moldy or rotting food that could harbor harmful bacteria. Unvaccinated and uncared-for strays may pose a higher risk of carrying diseases. If you encounter a stray, it is best to contact a dog rescue organization that can provide the necessary care and find them a permanent home. In the meantime, it is wise to refrain from engaging in doggy kisses with unfamiliar dogs.

Even if your own dog receives optimal care, it is prudent to prevent them from licking areas of open skin, such as cuts or scrapes. Dr. Laura Purdy highlights the potential presence of Pasteurella, a bacterium that can cause skin infections, even in healthy dogs. She also mentions Capnocytophaga canimorsus, a rare bacterium that can lead to severe illness in individuals with weakened immune systems.

If your dog happens to lick an open wound or bites you, it is crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Signs of infection, including redness, swelling, or the presence of pus-like discharge, require prompt medical attention. By following these precautions and seeking appropriate medical assistance when needed, you can minimize the potential risks associated with dog germs while fostering a safe and enjoyable bond with your canine companion.

The profound bond between humans and animals is undeniable. In fact, the unconditional love provided by your dog is something you might crave just as much as they crave yours. If both you and your furry companion are in good health, there is generally no compelling reason to completely forgo those delightful and affectionate slobbery kisses.

However, if you wish to exercise caution or have specific concerns, Dr. Heather Berst offers some helpful suggestions. One approach is to train your dog to sit calmly when you arrive home and patiently await a treat or a high-five as an alternative to exchanging kisses. This redirection allows you to maintain a loving connection while minimizing the risk of germ transmission.

Additionally, engaging in cuddle sessions and petting your dog serves as a powerful means of deepening your bond without the need for direct mouth-to-face contact. By adopting these practices, you can safely and responsibly navigate the realm of physical affection with your dog, ensuring that your love remains strong while minimizing potential risks associated with germs.

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