You might think it’s cute – that big, wet and slobbery tongue reaching out from your canine’s jaw and affectionately lapping at your face.
But what if I told you there was something quite sinister about it?
No, I’m not saying your beloved Fido is trying to harm you. Your little (or big) furry friend genuinely is trying to display affection.
Too bad the same can’t be said for all the bacteria on the dog’s tongue.
Are dog mouths really cleaner than human mouths?
No. That’s a total myth.
Marty Becker, author of Chicken Soup for the Dog Owner’s Soul, puts it quite well when he says:
“All you have to do is look, watch, smell and you’ll realize that is not true.
They raid the garbage can. You know, we give each other a peck on the cheek when we say hello, they give each other a peck on the rear end.”
John Oxford, professor of virology and bacteriology at the Queen Mary University in London, expanded further on just how much bacteria your dog’s muzzle and mouth can carry.
“It is not just what is carried in saliva. Dogs spend half 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.”
Those viruses and germs can cause conditions that can be damaging to human health, as one U.K. woman learned the hard way.
She contracted an infection from her Italian greyhound’s saliva. She didn’t even realize anything was wrong until she was on the phone with a relative and began to notice her speech slurring.
By the time the ambulance arrived, she was slumped in her chair, her health degrading rapidly. She recovered with two weeks of intensive care and plenty of antibiotics.
Blood tests showed the infection was due to capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria, which is commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats.
She’s not alone – there have been 13 similar cases throughout the UK.
That’s not the only disease Fido can pass onto you through dog kisses.
There’s also ringworm infection.
A ringworm infection is one of the easiest diseases for your dog to pass onto you from smooching. If the ringworm bacteria is around their mouth and you engage in kissing, bam. Ringworm for you too.
MRSA infection in humans, which produce lesions like the unsightly one above, can be caused by as little as one lick from your dog.
Dogs can carry around this bacteria with very little effect on their own health but when an owner comes into contact with it… Yeah, it’s a bad time.
Staphylococcus aureus is similar to MRSA. Similar bacteria (which can be found in Fido’s mouth) cause it but that bacteria is not as resistant to treatment.
I’d still want to avoid it altogether to be honest, I don’t know about you.
This one’s really bad. How bad? Let’s put it this way – I’m easing you into it with some text before I drop the picture on you.
This man was told by his doctor that his capnocytophaga canimorsus infection was caused by a dog licking his open wound.
His feet were even worse. One had to be partially amputated.
We’ll skip those photos.
Are you going to catch a disease from your dog that leaves you with one foot and disfigured hands? Probably not.
But are you going to take the chance?
Seriously, avoid those kisses.