Before you read any further, ask yourself: if your dog’s kisses made you sick, would you stop kissing them?
Personally, I’ve never had a reason to suspect my precious pup has “given” me anything that led to sickness, so I probably wouldn’t stop smooching my number one mutt. But then again, I’m not a doctor. So let’s see what one has to say.
Jane Sykes, a professor at the University of California, recently weighed in on this very question. On one level, the concern is not entirely unfounded. Our pups do carry a lot of bacteria a human dog owner may otherwise not be exposed to.
A lot of those little bugs live and thrive in a dog’s saliva, and since no dog lover can resist the temptation to smooch their pooch, it makes perfect sense that dog kisses might place one “at risk.”
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Certain of those bacteria can be particularly harmful if exposed to an open wound. This may sound a bit gross, but if someone has a tiny paper cut on their hand, or any other seemingly small wound, it’s still a giant door for microscopic bacteria.
So definitely, never ever, EVER let your dog lick your wounds. But what about your face? Well, Professor Sykes actually paints a much prettier picture when it comes specifically to kisses.
Although a dog in the home may be a slight health risk, the benefits of having a dog in the home far outweigh them. Dr. Sykes told the Wall Street Journal that “As many as 60% of Americans have pets in the house, and the animals have been shown to provide good health, exercise and emotional care to their owners.”
She also points out that humans with dogs come into contact with their saliva indirectly much more often than direct tongue-to-cheek action, so the risk posed by dog kisses is negligible if the human is also touching dog toys, places the dog has slept, etc.
“My dog licks my youngest kid on the face all the time,” she told the WSJ, “and I always say, ‘Just don’t let her lick you on the mouth and please go wash it off.’”
Dr. Sykes also emphasizes that the best way for a pup parent to maintain their health is to keep the dog healthy. Visit the vet at least once a year and make sure to keep up on your heart worm meds. Happy and healthy pups mean happy and healthy humans, and that means one big happy family!
There’s all sorts of reasons you should pick up your pup’s poop. If you live in a city, it’s the least you can do to be a good neighbor (and follow the law)! And if you live in the suburbs or the countryside, you might know that, unfortunately, dog poop is not the best fertilizer.
Even more concerning are all sorts of illnesses you can pick up from exposure to your dog’s poop. So clean it up and keep yourself safe! Otherwise, you better learn the warning signs from these illnesses that you can catch from your dog’s… um… leftovers. These are some of the illnesses you can pick up from bacteria in your pup’s stool:
E. COLI – E.Coli and other similar bacteria live in the intestines of many animals and certain strains can get into your bloodstream. If you’re infected, you might experience stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. If you have a weakened immune system, E.coli infection could be fatal.
CAMPYLOBACTERIOSIS – Symptoms include diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. In most cases, the illness lasts about a week. If your immune system is weak or compromised, watch out. Campylobacteriosis could spread to the bloodstream and potentially cause a life-threatening infection.
YERSINIOSIS – A bacterial disease that can cause intestinal infections. Unlike many other bacteria, yersinia can multiply in cold water, so be careful your first trip to the neighborhood lake after it starts thawing in the Spring.
TOXOPLASMOSIS – This illness might cause flu-like symptoms, and if you have a depressed immune system, the complications can be more serious. And if you’re pregnant, the illness can pass birth defects on to your child.