Can Letting Your Dog Lick Your Face Be Bad?

by Jodi Thornton O'Connell
    Dog kisses can pass along dangerous bacteria or parasites.

    Dog kisses can pass along dangerous bacteria or parasites.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Unconditional love is one of the best things about having a pet dog, but if your dog's boundless love overabounds, you may have to set some boundaries. While canine saliva may have antibacterial qualities that help the creatures eat carrion in the wild, kissing your dog can have a negative effect on your health.

    Peridontopathic bacteria present in the plaque on a dog's teeth can transfer to humans in their saliva, causing not only bad breath but severe gum disease that can destroy a tooth's supporting structure. The types of bacteria found in a dog's mouth are known to contribute to heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease in humans.

    If your dog is not vaccinated for rabies, you will definitely not want him sharing his saliva through a kiss. Rabies easily passes among warm-blooded animals, including bats and birds that can fly into your yard. If you are bitten by an unvaccinated dog, you will need to have a rabies immune globulin shot to prevent the virus from taking hold. You will most likely be given more injections over a two-week span. Once the disease takes hold, it is usually fatal.

    A dog's short digestive system usually leaves it untroubled by salmonella that may have been crawling on that old hot dog they just ate, but the very same bacteria can put you in bed with a serious illness. Dogs also regularly sniff other dog's feces, lick their own and other dogs' anal regions, and will usually devour droppings from birds, rabbits, deer or livestock, picking up parasites and bacteria that make that adorable kiss ill-advised.

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    About the Author

    Jodi Thornton O'Connell has been an outdoorswoman for more than 45 years. She shares her love of adventure in columns for "Out-and-About Magazine," "Adam’s Rib," "Senior Christian Lifestyles," "Creede Magazine" and various websites.

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