If you are a dog lover, you are probably used to exuberant slobbery shows of love from your furry pets. But you need to know and warn your other friends with dog too that licks across the face, especially on your mouth, can create a lot of health problems.
The first thought that comes to mind is ‘where has this dog been?’ for they are creatures who reside outdoors and sniff at everything in the vicinity. As per research, science warns us against showing affection to pets by kissing them. This isn’t just an opinion; kissing your dogs can make you very sick. John Oxford, emeritus professor of virology and bacteriology at Queen Mary University in London, said ‘It is not just what is carried in saliva. 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.’
The Kiss of Death
One scary example is that of a woman from the the United Kingdom who contracted an infection from the saliva of her Italian Greyhound. She spent weeks in the intensive care recovering from multiple organ failure. She suffered from blood poisoning called severe sepsis caused by the Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria. This bacteria is commonly found in the mouths of dogs.
Bacteria can be transferred between humans, or from dogs to humans. Humans wash their hands and clean their teeth daily. Dogs lick themselves to clean or they need you to give them a good bath. A dog’s mouth is not cleaner than yours. Their saliva naturally carries bugs that can be easily passed on to both other dogs and humans. A Japanese team of scientists who collected dental plaque from dogs and humans confirmed that the bacteria in dog saliva can cause frequent diseases. Sometimes, such bugs are more dangerous to us than to the dogs: “The diseases we worry about most come from some of the bugs that cause gastrointestinal problems in humans,” said Dr. Sykes.
Humans are aware when they are sick, so they’ll generally take precautions to ensure they do not pass the sickness on to friends/family members. Dogs don’t have this knowledge, and will lick an owner without realising the harm being caused. We can’t blame the dog. But we can avoid constant slobbering on our skin. Take it from Dr. Oz: “If your pooch is a scavenger, then a canine lick on the lips could jeopardize your health. The half-eaten hot dog your dog found on the street — or the feces he was nibbling on — could be loaded with germs and bacteria such as toxocara, salmonella, giardia, hookworm, tapeworm and many others, putting your family’s health at risk.”
More Common Than Rabies
Men’s Health details the various sicknesses that are commonly contracted from dogs. They include:
- The Stomach Bug – diarrhoea, vomiting, fever from feces lying around the house.
- Ringworm – an infection caused by fungus, transferred from coming into contact with the same object.
- Parasites – once again, found in feces. Even the slightest bit landing on your hand can cause the symptoms to appear.
- Meningitis – The bacteria Pasteurella multocida which can be found in the mouth of dogs can cause fever, swollen lymph nodes,and in extreme cases, meningitis.
Pat Them More to Show Your Affection
All this doesn’t mean you’ll be immediately infected if you get licked or kissed by a dog. But it is wise to make your friends aware of what can happen from the slobbery kiss of a pet. While it is an affectionate act shown towards a loved one, the impact on your health can be detrimental. The ratio of such disease contraction is small, but where there is a chance, there should be concern. According to Shelley Rankin, associate professor of microbiology at Penn Vet, “There have only been about 13 cases reported in the entire United Kingdom, and I’m guessing on a similar scale in the U.S.”
When in doubt? Kiss your partner, and pat your dog.