Should you kiss your dog? We get asked often. Some people love to kiss and some do not. In most cases, we say it’s better not to kiss your dog. However, recent research suggests that dog saliva could aid wound healing.

Yes, your dog has bacteria in their mouth.

Pastuerella – lives in the mouths of cats and dogs that can cause skin, lymph node and, sometimes, more severe infections.

Bartonella henselae can cause a severe skin and lymph node infection called cat-scratch-fever.

Salmonella, E. coli, Clostridia and Campylobacter – intestinal bacteria of pets that can cause severe intestinal disease in humans.

Most cases of people getting sick from kissing or licking with pets come from oral contact with fecal residue which can be transmitted after pets lick their anus. Facial and lip licking between humans and pets can carry this fecal matter easily.

In some cases, a pet can transmit a parasite to a human. Human infection with pet parasites can result in intestinal disease, skin problems, blindness, and brain disorders. Like bacteria, a fecal-to-oral transmission is the most likely path to sickness for humans. Pets that have licked their anus can potentially pass the parasite eggs to humans during facial licking.

All of this sounds gross, right? Well, there is some good news! Recent studies suggest that a chemical in pet saliva called histatins does aid in wound healing by promoting the spread and migration of new skin cells.

Young children, senior citizens, and immunosuppressed individuals on chemotherapy or inflicted with AIDS are most likely to get infected from oral contact with pets. Healthy people are unlikely to become infected. You can still take precautions!

The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends:

  • Regular deworming programs
  • Annual pet fecal examinations with appropriate anti-parasite treatment
  • Treatment to control fleas and ticks
  • Daily disposal of pet feces and compliance with pooper-scooper laws
  • Covering children’s sandboxes when not in use
  • Feeding cooked, canned, or dry pet food
  • Washing or cooking vegetables for human consumption
  • Adequate handwashing after exposure to feces or fecal contamination

Should you kiss your dog? Kiss at your own risk!