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Should you let your dog kiss your face?

We know there is no greater feeling when you get home to get an affectionate greeting from the four-legged members of your family. These greetings can include an ear scratch, leg bump, or a big dog kiss sweeping across your face. Now, the question is, is this safe? Should you let your dog lick you in your face? 

Animal experts all agree on one scientifically proven fact: It is not sanitary for your dog to lick any are of your face! Dogs carry various bacteria in their mouths that can be beneficial or non-effective to their health. These bacteria, however, were not meant to be absorbed by our bodies.

Throughout this article, we will be exploring the reasons why you should not let your dog kiss your face along with the potential consequences of having frequent licks from your furry companion.

Why do dogs lick you to show affection?

There have been various studies to try and find out why dogs behave the way they do. According to certain studies, licking behaviors stem from personality traits bred through canines as a means of communication, bonding, grooming, or even psychological problems.

Mother dogs show affection to their puppies in a lot of different ways to create that biological bonds they need. They make use of licking from the moment of birth. Usually, the mother dog will wake her puppies from their post-partum state through licking.

When dogs meet other dogs, they will use licking as a bonding tool.  Licking is also a way dogs show submission to their pack master. This is a natural instinct for them. Our fur babies see us as their owners and “leader, so the ingrained behaviors are communicated in the same ways.

Excessive licking towards humans might also be signs of deeper mental problems. Our pets can often feel separation anxiety or be nervous in their surroundings due to noise, crowds, smells etc.

Why not to kiss?

A dog’s mouth is host to oral microbiome of bacteria, viruses and yeast. The term “zoonotic” is frequently used to describe the bacteria that reside in a dog’s mouth. These bacteria can be passed on to humans and cause disease.

Remember, a dog spends a lot of time nosing around in areas where they shouldn’t. They tend to sniff around unsanitary areas. Just think about it, this means that not only is your dog’s mouth a host to these bacteria, but their muzzles can be as well. Dogs lick themselves to clean and additional bacteria are also transferred when their tongues lick around their muzzle for a quick cleanup.

What are the dangers of dog kisses?

These are the top five bacteria that could be transferred through the face and/or mouth:

  1. Capnocytophaga Canimorsus: An organism carried in the mouths of dogs, and it causes a very bad sepsis infection.
  2. Staphylococcus Aureu (Staph Infection): The majority of time your dog can safely carry this virus strain without it affecting their overall health, but when transferred to a human it can have life-threatening consequences.
  3. Ringworm or Hookworm: Can cause either painful itchy infections or inflammation, or even intestinal bleeding depending on the point of entry.
  4. E.Coli: A potentially fatal bacterial disease with symptoms ranging from diarrhea to nausea to intestinal bleeding.
  5. Salmonella: A painful bacterial disease that can cause diarrhea, intestinal cramping, nausea and vomiting.

We know that we love our fur babies and that dogs are generally affectionate, lovable creatures. Their lovable natural behavior should never be discouraged, however, there should be boundaries. How our dogs display that affection can be beneficial for everyone!