Are Pet Kisses Safe? To Smooch or Not to Smooch

pet kissesIt’s hard not to love the fact that your pet is thrilled to see you after a long day apart. For many pet owners, this means enduring a daily round of slobbery pet kisses. Some of us don’t mind this type of attention, while others avoid that doggy tongue at all costs.

Most pet owners have probably wondered, at one time or another, whether dog kisses are safe or even if pet mouths healthy.

Why Dogs Lick

Although it’s endearing to think that your best pal is giving you “kisses”, that probably isn’t the reason he or she is licking you. There are a variety of potential reasons for that tongue bath, including:

  • Your pet enjoys the salty flavor of your skin
  • It’s a sign of submission
  • Stress release
  • Endorphin release
  • Because you have praised him or her for it in the past
  • Habit

Chances are good that your pup’s licks are nothing more than normal, instinctual behavior. If the licking seems to be obsessive, please give us a call so we can rule out any potential health issues that may be contributing.

Are Pet Kisses Safe?

We’ve all heard that a dog’s mouth is healthier than a human’s, so all of those licks are perfectly healthy, right?

Not necessarily. A dog’s mouth is teeming with bacteria and viruses, much like our own. Because the majority of dog and people pathogens are species specific, you’re not likely to get sick from your dog’s microbes, and vice versa. Babies, small children, and immunocompromised adults (including the elderly) should avoid coming into contact with their pets’ saliva. This is due to the potential for swapping Salmonella bacteria or intestinal parasites, such as hookworm, roundworm, or Giardia.

Your pet’s dental health should also be taken into consideration when it comes to evaluating the safety of doggy kisses. Dental disease can greatly increase the amount of bacteria in your pet’s mouth, which can then be transferred to you. Keep your pet’s mouth as clean as possible by brushing his or her teeth and scheduling yearly teeth cleanings and exams with your veterinarian.

Where Has that Mouth Been?

For the average healthy adult, the occasional lick from a four-legged friend probably won’t do any harm, but let’s face it, dogs are gross. It doesn’t take much effort to figure out where your dog’s nose and mouth may have been before they come into contact with your face (another dog’s rear end, the garbage can, or the litter box for starters) and why you may not want them near your mouth.

Other Ways to Show You Care

There is no doubt your pet loves you, but since dogs don’t show affection to one another in the wild by kissing, you may want to choose another way to express your devotion to your best pal. Try the following ideas to bond with the special four-legged someone in your life:

  • Daily walks
  • Playtime
  • Kind words
  • Petting and snuggles
  • Training
  • Grooming (for dogs who enjoy being groomed)

As always, please don’t hesitate to let the team at Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital know if you have any questions or concerns about your pet!