Vet explains why you should never let a dog lick your face

A reader on our sister site TeamDogs posted a question asking: “Should you allow your dog to kiss you on the lips?” While sharing a kiss with your four-legged friends is a natural way to show affection, it usually is a wet and messy situation and filled with hidden nasties.

Zoe Costigan, in-house vet at Itch, explained that dog kisses are not innocent and can pass faecal matter, gut parasites and human disease on with a simple smooch of the lips.

She said: “Allowing your dog to lick or kiss your face is a personal preference, and personally, I am not keen on my dog licking or kissing my face.

“Dogs lick their owners for several reasons and it’s generally a sign of affection, however, they can lick if they are anxious and seeking reassurance.”

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So, the loveable licks that pet parents are so guilty of allowing, can actually spread a great deal of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to your mouth.

To stress the health concerns of dog kisses, Zoe reminds us of everything that a dog does with its tongue.

“Dogs clean themselves with their mouths and this includes cleaning around the anus, so there is a possibility that faecal matter, which is contaminated with bacteria or gut parasites, such as giardia or roundworm eggs, could then be transferred to the owner when the dog licks their face.

“Bacteria passed from dog to owner in this way can result in human disease. Not to mention, dogs spend a fair amount of time with their noses in various undesirable places, such as other dog’s bottoms, rotting food and other animal’s faeces whilst out on walks.”

While Zoe stresses that it is a personal choice, she explains that we don’t have to let our dogs kiss our lips. We can train them to show affection in other ways.

“Kissing is a learnt behaviour which will become more frequent if rewarded, and likewise if this behaviour is discouraged and/or ignored, it will stop.”

So next time your dog jumps up and wants to shower you with puppy kisses, you may want to think twice about where their tongue has been.

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