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Should I let my dog lick my face?

Dec 2nd, 2016 by

It may seem like a harmless display of affection, but allowing your pet to ‘kiss’ you could be dangerous – or even fatal

Who doesn’t let their dog give them a slobbery “kiss”? Most of the time it doesn’t matter – until it does. Your dog may be part of your family, but the bacteria in its mouth are different from those in yours. As John Oxford, emeritus professor of virology and bacteriology at Queen Mary University London, recently told the Hippocratic Post, 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.

Mostly, despite these bugs being unknown to our immune systems, we avoid getting sick. But there are bacteria in dogs’ (and cats’) mouths that are zoonotic, that is, they can cause diseases in humans. They include clostridium, E coli and campylobacter, which cause gastroenteritis. Pasteurella multocida, a dog’s normal mouth bacterium, was blamed for meningitis in 42 infants in France under the age of four between 2001 and 2011. Nearly half the babies were newborn, and most were infected as a result of dogs or cats licking them. Four died. The authors of the paper suggest that contact between infants and pets should be reduced.

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