In a Seattle Times article posted last week, experts caution: beware of those sweet kisses you share with your dog. According to Dr. Neilanjan Nandi, an assistant professor of medicine at Drexel University College of Medicine, “Most animals’ mouths are host to an enormous oral microbiome of bacteria, viruses and yeast. There are some organisms unique to dogs that we were simply not meant to tolerate or combat.” The article goes on to list some common bacteria that animals can pass to humans and cause disease.
One disclaimer, this does not necessarily mean your dog shouldn’t lick you at all. Very little absorption actually occurs through the skin; it is through the mucous membranes of a person’s nose, mouth and eyes where pathogens can be absorbed more easily, so it is recommended that you don’t let your dog lick those parts of your face.
John Oxford, an expert in microbiology and a professor of virology at Queen Mary University of London, was reported saying that he would never let a dog lick his face and not just because of what is carried in saliva but also because “dogs spend half of their life with their noses in nasty corners or hovering over dog droppings so their muzzles are full of bacteria, viruses and germs of all sorts.” Just another thing to keep in mind.
Check out the Seattle Times article as it details other disturbing infections that can be transmitted, as well as whether the same caution should be taken with cats. Most importantly, experts recommend that pet owners do the following:
- Make sure your pet is current on all vaccines.
- Make sure new pets undergo de-worming.
- Keep pets away from the feces of other animals.
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.