OCT 03, 2017 4:07 PM PDT

Should You Kiss a Pet on the Mouth?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Even if you don't let a dog kiss you, you probably know of someone who does. How could anyone resist those sweet puppy kisses? But is it safe to let a dog lick your face?

On one side of the camp, people who welcome pet kisses say a dog's mouth may not be any dirtier than our own mouths. So if we're willing to kiss each other, why not kiss our dog?

"Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. At any given point in time they are probably not any dirtier than ours," said Dr. Paul Maza, a co-director of the health center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.

"Because most of the bacteria and viruses in a dog's mouth are the same as in a person's mouth, it is safe to kiss a dog, just like a person. You can probably catch more from kissing a human than a dog or cat," he said.

On the other side of the camp, some people who are a bit more cautious. Indeed, people have gotten sick from kissing their pets - one woman had to be treated for sepsis from a bacterial infection contracted from her greyhound's licks. Given that animals are willing to eat far more disgusting things than us, and that they clean themselves with their tongues, avoiding mouth-to-mouth with your pet seems like a safer alternative.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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