Your dog might light up your life, but should you smooch your pooch? Many dog owners love expressing affection with their furry friends. But is it OK to kiss your dog? This age-old question has an answer, and it’s not so simple.
So, is it OK to kiss your dog? If you have a healthy immune system, in most cases, you likely won’t get sick from smooching your pooch. However, dog saliva can contain bacteria that causes illness in humans. This means that letting your dog lick or kiss your mouth, nose or wounds might lead to infection, especially if you have a weak immune system.
Where is it OK to Kiss Your Dog?
Sometimes when Polar Bear and I are snuggling on the couch, I’ll give him a peck on his forehead. He doesn’t seem to mind, and kissing him in a place he can’t lick reduces the chance of spreading germs… Right?
I just might be onto something. Most of the germs on your dog’s body — if he’s a clean inside dog — live in his mouth. It is extra important to be aware of what goes on in your dog’s mouth. Dogs are curious creatures by nature — and this includes curiosities about the dead squirrel in your neighbor’s yard, rotten food that somehow escaped the dumpster, poop, and other disgusting things your dog might encounter on a walk or in your yard. These gross items can end up in your dog’s mouth, and then end up on your face if you kiss your dog’s mouth or let him lick your face. Contact with gross stuff can transfer bacteria into your dog’s mouth. It might not make your pup sick, but it can make you sick.
Additionally, parasites can be transferred from dogs to humans through licking or “kissing.” Giardia, hookworms and roundworms can be transferred through licking. Same with Salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter.
So, to avoid illness — especially if you have a weak immune system — don’t kiss your dog on the mouth or let him kiss your mouth. So, in most cases, it is OK to kiss your dog if you’re safe about it.
Are Dogs Really Kissing When they Lick?
There are many reasons your dog might lick you. In many cases, your dog licking you is a sign of submission and affection. Your dog also might lick you because he likes the salty taste of your skin.
Licking is a natural dog behavior. Mother dogs lick their puppies to help them breathe and clean them up after birth, and dogs instinctively lick puppies’ mouths.
Additionally, licking can release endorphins in your dog’s brain. This can give them a feeling of pleasure and comfort and help relieve stress.
Does your dog kiss or lick you too much? If he’s doing it as a sign of submission or attention, learn to ignore his kisses. Teach your dog that licking and kisses don’t get attention. If your dog gives you unwanted licks or kisses, simply get up and walk away. Repeating this behavior will get your dog to stop. Learn more about what is positive reinforcement dog training.
Can You Get Rabies from Kissing Your Dog?
If you are a responsible pet owner, your dog has been vaccinated against rabies. Being vaccinated against rabies means your dog does not have rabies, nor can he contract rabies. You can’t get rabies from kissing a vaccinated dog.
Do Dogs Like Hugs and Kisses?
For the most part, dogs do not like hugs. Very patient or submissive dogs, or dogs that have been trained as therapy or service animals might tolerate hugs, but behaviorally and instinctively, dogs don’t hug.
Does your dog become stiff when being hugged or kissed? This likely means he doesn’t like this kind of interaction.
One important tip for new dog owners is to learn how to read your dog’s body language. Stiff body language with ears slicked back mean your dog is uncomfortable and does not want to be approached or interacted with. Don’t hug or kiss you’re dog when he’s acting fearful or aggressive.
More Facts About Dog Kisses
- When your dog kisses you, it might indicate he acknowledges you as his caretaker. Puppies instinctively lick and kiss their mom to tell her they’re hungry. They do this because they identify their mom as their caretaker. Your puppy or adult dog might lick or kiss you because he acknowledges that you take care of him.
- Dog kisses can also indicate social status. It’s a fact: Dogs are pack animals. When a dog joins your family, you become his pack. Dogs recognize who leads the pack and who they need to be submissive to. Dogs lick to express their submission. When your dog licks you, it might be his way of telling you that he knows you’re the boss.
- Kissing can be a learned behavior. This means your dog might kiss certain members of your household more than others. This isn’t because the dog favors that person, but because the dog has learned that person tolerates kissing and licking.
- Some breeds of dogs kiss more than others. Dogs that give the most kisses might include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Italian Greyhounds, Collies, Spaniels and Great Danes. Dogs that generally don’t like to kiss include the arctic breeds like Malamutes, Huskies and Samoyeds.
Is it OK to kiss your dog? In a short answer, yes — but do so very carefully. Do you kiss your dog? Does your dog kiss you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
While you’re at it, check our our other Tips For New Dog Owners and resources: