Dogs brighten our lives and fill them with love and sweet puppy kisses.
We give dogs affection in a million ways, and they return it.
Sometimes they show their affection with snuggles on the couch or an offer to play with a favorite toy.
But their biggest show of affection usually comes from a wet, sloppy face lick — puppy kisses.
While puppy kisses are sweet, are they safe for you and your dog?
Why do dogs lick?
Dogs lick us because they love us! Puppy kisses show affection.
Dogs also lick to communicate that they’re hungry, need to go outside or want your attention.
Puppy kisses also comfort dogs because licking releases endorphins, making them feel relaxed and happy.
An anxious dog might be prone to licking behavior to self-soothe or compel his owner to provide reassurance and affection.
What’s in puppy kisses?
A dog’s kiss is full of affection, loyalty, and about 700 kinds of bacteria.
Some less human-friendly bacteria include Toxocara, Pasteurella campylobacter, and salmonella, not to mention parasites like hookworms and tapeworms and any other disgusting thing they might encounter laying on the ground hookworm, tapeworm, and salmonella — not to say anything they find lying on the ground.
While a dog’s mouth is full of stuff that helps them heal, it’s also full of stuff that will send you straight to a doctor’s office.
If your dog is unwell, the chances you will get sick increase.
While having a dog can be good for the health of even the smallest humans (having a dog can help diminish respiratory illnesses in children).
However, it’s better to play it safe when it comes to puppy kisses.
You can let your dog kiss you. Just keep your dog’s tongue away from your mouth.
Licks on cheeks or hands are generally OK, as skin absorption of bacteria is rare. To be safe, make sure to wash up afterward!
For anyone who is sick or has a compromised immune system, including people who have HIV/AIDS, are receiving chemo, or are otherwise immunocompromised — it’s best to make sure you teach your dog to show affection in other ways.
Older people, as well as infants, should probably also avoid puppy kisses.
Break the kissing habit
To prevent worrying about health risks, teach your dog other communication methods.
To stop licking or break an unwanted kissing habit, show your dog that kisses or licks are not an effective method of communication.
If your dog licks you, say no firmly and leave the room.
Stop if you’re doing something your dog likes, such as petting, and she starts licking.
Once your dog learns to link your absence with licking or understands you won’t do something she enjoys if she licks, the puppy kisses will stop.
– By Amber Kingsley