As you ride the bus home from work, despite your stress and exhaustion, you can’t help smiling to yourself as you imagine the warm welcome you’ll soon receive from your furry friend back home! You get down on your knees and put your arms around his soft warm body as he squirms in joy and plants sloppy kisses all over your face.
While this display of affection is perfectly normal among pet owners, is it really safe?
Can You Get Ill Just Because Your Dog Licks Your Face?
“A dog’s saliva contains bacteria, viruses & yeasts that humans can’t tolerate or combat”
To you, your dog is part of the family, but to the bacteria and viruses in his mouth, you’re just a sitting duck! A dog’s saliva contains bacteria, viruses and yeasts that are unique to dogs and that they can tolerate, but that we as humans simply can’t fight. Here are some of the biggest risks posed from contact with dog saliva.
Health Risks From Dog Saliva
Gastro & Worm Infections
“Dogs pick up & chew objects from the ground, often picking up bacteria like clostridium, E coli, & campylobacter that can be passed on to humans, causing gastroenteritis”
Common bacteria in dogs’ mouths, such as clostridium, E coli, and campylobacter can cause gastroenteritis in humans. Similarly, dogs can also transmit parasites like hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms to a human. This is because dogs often pick up or chew on objects lying on the ground, whether at home or outdoors; if the soil is contaminated with eggs from these parasites, they get passed on to humans through slobbery doggie kisses!
Meningitis & Blood Poisoning
“Some infections, like infant meningitis, from the pasteurella multocida bacterium, can even be fatal; likewise, some infections can cause heart inflammation & blood poisoning”
As if gastro and worms were not bad enough, bacteriologists also point out that it is possible to get serious and even fatal infections from dogs. For example, pasteurella multocida is a benign mouth bacterium in dogs, but it can cause meningitis in infants.
Even though this is a rare occurrence, it is still a serious concern, as there are recorded cases of new-born infants dying from the infection after being licked by a house pet. Other bacterial infections from dogs can cause brain abscesses, inflammation of the heart, and septicaemia (blood poisoning).
Isn’t A Dog’s Mouth Cleaner Than A Human’s?
“Dogs who are allowed outdoors, will invariably spend time rummaging through garbage, poking through nasty corners & even sniffing each other’s rear ends”
This is a total myth! People think that because a dog drools a lot, it means that their mouths are cleaner, but remember that they chew on just about anything, rummage through the garbage, and even lick themselves clean. And it’s not just their mouth that’s dirty, it’s their muzzle too, since they often spend their time poking through nasty corners and even sniffing each other’s rear ends!
Do I Need To Train My Dog Not To Lick Me At All?
“There is little to no danger from your dog’s saliva coming in contact with your skin, especially if you are a healthy person – it’s only licking your face that is a no-no”
Stopping a dog from licking you altogether is unnecessary, and it’s probably impossible because of how loving they are! Virologists and veterinarians alike agree that there is little to no danger from your dog’s saliva coming in contact with your skin, especially if you are a healthy person.
However, the mucous membranes around your nose, mouth, and eyes are much thinner, which is why there is a higher likelihood of transmission of pathogens when a dog licks your face. If you have even a minor scratch, don’t let your dog lick it clean – his care and concern for you may be adorable, but it could lead to a serious infection.
Although there is some risk that you can get an infection from your dog, it’s not really something that you need to worry about, so long as you are responsible. Besides, research clearly shows that your dog can improve your health, and the benefits of pet ownership far outweigh all of these risks. So, try to stay calm, avoid giving in to paranoia, and don’t treat your furry friend like a walking bag of bacteria!
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