One of the things we like to do is kiss Angelo and Aries…a lot. We can’t count how many kisses we get each day from both of them. What we do know is that one can never get enough kisses. That’s why I was perplexed one day (a few years ago) when someone said that it was gross and that I could get sick from pets.
Most pet parents can imagine my disdain and irritation when someone throws out comments like that (seriously they get a big eye roll from me). I thought it was illogical, nonsensical and something that a dog hater would say (yes those people exist and we know it!).
In all seriousness it’s more likely you’ll catch an illness from another person than a dog. Take great care when you shake hands, kiss strangers or even when standing in a crowd. Doesn’t it seem slightly overblown when people tell you not to kiss your fur baby?
In the past year there has been some articles that have come out which support the theory of humans getting sick from kissing pets, while others feel it’s healthy for us to kiss our pups. Who do we believe?
So because we like to be objective, we should point out that there are several things that you could catch from kissing your pup.
- Pasteurella is a bacteria that lives in the mouths of cats and in some dogs. It can sometimes cause infections of the skin and lymph nodes, but mostly occurs from a bite or scratch.
- Salmonellla, E. coli, Clostridia and Campylobacter are intestinal bacteria and can cause intestinal pain in humans. It’s normally passed through their feces. Usually one gets infected when having oral contact (hands) with the contaminated fecal mater. The argument is that since our pups lick their anuses (they don’t do that, do they? LoL), then the bacteria can reside within their mouths. It should be noted that there is little proof that this is actually one of the major ways the bacteria is transmitted.
- Parasites are usually a major concern as well. The eggs are passed through our pets fecal matter, and therefore it’s possible for us to become infected as well. But this scenario isn’t likely (there are some exceptions) because the eggs need time to mature in order to infect another host. Your pup would need to come into contact with at least 1 day old poop (for certain parasites), then lick your face in order to transfer it to you. Which makes this less likely. The only exceptions are giardia and crytosporidia, which need no time to mature to be able to infect other hosts.
The Benefits of Dog Germs
Believe it or not there have been studies conducted that show kissing our dogs can actually benefit our health. Besides all the love, there are some other physical health benefits.
- A study from the University of Colorado Boulder shows that dog owners have a much more diverse and different set of skin bacteria, than non-dog owners. In fact dog owners share more microbes with their dogs than with other members of the family. Being exposed to different microbes can strengthen our immune system.
- There is an ongoing study from The University of Arizona in which researchers believe that the microbes within a dog’s gut can have a probiotic effect in humans. Essentially, a dogs saliva can encourage positive growth of microorganisms.
- A researcher from The London School of Medicine and Dentistry says that licking wounds is extremely beneficial. When saliva comes into contact with skin, then nitrite (a natural component of saliva) breaks down into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a chemical compound that protects cuts and scratches from bacterial infections.
The choice to kiss your pup is entirely yours, but unless your pet is rummaging through contaminated food, spending a significant amount of time away from home (say wandering the streets or alone in the wild) or consistently eating anyone and everyone’s fecal matter, then chances are it’s safe to continue getting wet sloppy licks from them.
What do you think? Do you kiss your dog all the time? Comment below and don’t forget to share!