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is it safe to let your dog kiss you?

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan

When dogs lick your face, they’re not actually giving you kisses as an expression of love. I mean, they do love you, but licking is their way of submitting to you and showing you the respect you deserve as an alpha.


Or they may be looking for clues as to how you’ve spent your day. Or they may be worried. Or they may have found a bit of food left on your face from lunch (how embarrassing!).


At any rate, when it comes to doggy kisses, there are two camps of people: those who love them and those who don’t. Regardless of which camp you belong to, I’m sure you’ve wondered if it’s safe to let your dog lick your face (or your kid’s face).


Let me get right to the point — there is a chance that your dog could potentially transmit disease to you or your children by licking you. However, it is a very, very, very small chance. In fact, there’s also a chance that you could potentially transmit disease to your dog. But, again, it’s a very small chance.


As a medical professional, it’s my job to keep your dog safe and tell you any potential health risks they may present to you. Getting kisses from your dog falls pretty low on my worry list for both you and your puckering pup.

As a vet, I know that dogs can do some pretty gross stuff. They greet each other by sniffing rear ends. Sometimes they eat dead things. And sometimes they eat poop. A mouth that’s done all that is the last thing I want near my mouth. I also get more than a little nervous when dog teeth are near child faces, because dogs can be unpredictable and any dog can bite if they feel threatened.


However, as a pet parent, I know that face licking is part of the human-animal bond. It’s an important part of our relationship. And I also know that I’m much more likely to get sick when my children kiss me, because they encounter virtual legions of viral and bacterial pathogens each day simply by going to school with other children. For the most part, humans get humans sick, and dogs get dogs sick.


So, when it comes to doggy kisses, just do what feels right to you. You know your dog better than anyone on the planet, so I trust you to make a good decision. Just be sure your dog stays healthy by keeping them up to date on vaccines and parasite prevention. If you really want to avoid getting sick, worry more about your family’s hand washing technique than a smooch from your pooch!

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Posted by Pam Brooks
on December 05 2016 13:16

Hi, Well, I am a widow and I have three loving pets that sleep with me when I go to bed. I have two cats and one dog. My dog Autumn waits until I get into bed and then she starts her nightly ritual which is licking my eyelids then my forehead. She does that for a few minutes. She also loves to lick my feet when I watch tv. She is a very loving dog. My cats are very loving as well. When one of my cats is around me, she constantly is kissing my hands and arms and once in awhile, she will kiss me on the cheek. Well, this is my story....I love getting the blogs from Pet Plan.

Posted by Carl Belken
on December 05 2016 09:34

For most of my life I did not allow a dog to lick my face, hands and arms were fine, but no face. That all changed when a miniature longhaired dachshund decided that I would be her new owner in spite of the fact that my wife and I swore we'd never own another dog. A dachshund with a set goal on their mind is next to impossible to stop. We took her in. She then decided that I would submit to face licking. I tried to prevent it. Dachshunds seem to love it when they have an obstacle to overcome. I'd wake up at night to find her standing on my head with her front paws licking my face. So I gave up. I've owned her now for seven years and I have yet to get sick from having my face licked. She has two types of licks. The long slurpy ones are the " I love you" licks. The short, precise ones are her grooming licks. Yes she's decided I need grooming daily. Resistance is futile.

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