For most of us, our dog is our family – and it is only natural that you want to show your love and affection to your precious pooch through hugs, fuss, and even kisses – but is it ok to share a kiss with your canine?
We took a closer look at all you need to know, to ensure that you have the information to keep your family – and your four-legged members – safe and healthy.
Do Dogs Like Kisses?
The answer to whether or not your dog likes and appreciates kisses depends largely on the nature, personality, and experience of your pooch.
Some dogs are more gentle than others and some may be very sensitive to being touched by strangers. However, many dogs enjoy receiving a good cuddle from their owner.
In order to understand whether your dog enjoys kisses, it is important to have a good understanding of the ways in which dogs communicate.
While we can’t always read their minds, there are certain behaviors that can give us clues as to what they might like or dislike.
Dogs And Body Language
One way to find out if your dog loves getting kisses is to observe them when they receive one. If they seem happy and relaxed, then chances are they will appreciate the attention.
On the other hand, if they appear uncomfortable or anxious, this could indicate that they don’t really like receiving kisses.
You can read your dog’s body language, and pick up cues as to whether they are happy. These include:
A Wagging Tail
A wagging tail is a clear sign that your dog is happy and content. It indicates that they are enjoying the moment and feeling positive about life. When your dog is wagging their tail, they are showing off their happiness and joy for life.
An Open Mouth Showing Teeth
If your dog has its mouth open, with teeth showing this means that they are happy and comfortable. This is because they are enjoying themselves and are ready to play. They are also letting you know that they are glad to see you.
Please be aware this is very different from a closed mouth with teeth showing which is often a warning sign.
When your dog is lying down, stretched out, this shows that they are calm and relaxed. They are not worried about anything and are ready to take things easy.
Tail Held High
If your dog’s tail is held high, this indicates that your pet is happy, relaxed, and comfortable with you, and this is also often a sign that they are greeting you.
Some breeds may not be able to show this posture due to the confirmation of their tail. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean they are unhappy – you will just have to pay closer attention to the other cues.
Why Does My Dog Lick Me? Are They Kissing Me Back?
There can be a number of reasons that your dog decides to lick you, and these may include:
They Want Attention
One of the main reasons that your dog may decide to lick you may simply be for attention. They may want to show you that they like you, or they may want to tell you something.
They Are Trying To Show Affection
Your dog may try to show affection towards you by licking you.
They may be trying to say “I love you” or “I’m happy”. Taking a look at the other signs and body language cues will help you to determine whether this is the case.
They Are Curious About Something New
Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and if they see something new, they may want to investigate it further. If your dog starts licking you, this might mean that they want to play with what they can see.
They may be interested in exploring the environment, or they may be trying to get closer to you.
They Are Stressed
If your dog is stressed out, they may choose to lick you as a way of relieving some of that stress. This could be because they don’t know what else to do, or because they are feeling anxious about something.
They Are Bored
If your dog is bored, they may choose to spend time licking you as a way of passing the time.
They may not realize that this behavior is inappropriate, but it can still be annoying, and you will need to take steps to break the habit by ensuring that your pooch is stimulated and has enough to keep them busy and happy.
As anyone who has owned dogs will be aware, many pooches love to lick their owners – and this can be a way of them showing you love through their form of kisses. However, licking can also carry risks.
For example, dogs may lick their owner’s eyes, nose, ears, lips, chin, or even genitals.
This can lead to problems such as conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the eyelids, eyeballs, and nasal passages), ear mites, bacterial infections, and yeast infections.
Remember a dog grooms itself, including its bottom and any stray faecal material with that tongue.
If your dog licks you inappropriately, they could also pick up any diseases that you have.
Are There Any Issues With Kissing My Dog?
There are some things that you should be aware of when kissing your dog, and these include:
Hugs And Kisses Can Seem Threatening To Dogs
While it is fine to hug your dog, make sure to do so gently. A sudden embrace can cause your dog to feel threatened or frightened.
So, before you start hugging your dog, make sure that your dog knows that you are just trying to comfort them.
Use your voice to let them know that you are there, and use slow, gentle movements to avoid your dog being suddenly surprised or frightened.
You should also avoid hugging your pet too tightly – no matter how cute they are – as this can lead to injury.
Kissing Your Dog Can Cause Illness
Kissing your dog can increase your risk of one or both of you getting sick or catching an infection, though this is fairly rare.
The bacteria that causes strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes) can live on human skin for up to 24 hours, and then travel into the mouth when we kiss our dogs.
While the chances of contracting strep throat are very low, it is important to be aware of the risk.
Bacteria that cause ear infections (otitis externa), eye infections (conjunctivitis), sore throats (pharyngitis), and other minor infections can also be carried on human skin and then be passed onto your dog through hugs and kisses.
It is important that you wash your hands regularly, especially after touching your dog. Washing your hands helps prevent the spread of germs from person to person, and from dog to person.
Can I Get Sick From Kissing My Dog?
It’s unlikely that you’ll get sick from kissing your dog, but if you’re concerned about catching diseases such as colds, flu, or even rabies, you should wash your hands thoroughly after touching your dog.
Kissing your pooch can increase your risk of contracting infections and diseases, including:
Rabies is a serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated.
The virus affects the nervous system by attacking the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, lack of coordination, paralysis, seizures, and even a coma.
The best way to prevent yourself from becoming infected is to keep away from wild animals, especially those that have been known to carry rabies.
Rabies is usually transmitted by bites, but rarely it can be transmitted by scratches or infected saliva contaminating an open wound.
It’s extremely unlikely that you would catch rabies from a family pet, but be cautious around wildlife and strays. I would not recommend kissing any animal that you do not know extremely well.
This bacteria causes food poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and headaches. Dogs can transmit salmonella to humans through contaminated food, water, or contact with their saliva.
As well as causing illness, salmonella can also cause more severe conditions such as pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, and hepatitis. In rare cases, salmonella infection can affect the heart valves.
This bacterium causes staph infections. These infections usually occur when people come into direct physical contact with an animal where either the animal or person has an open wound and can cause symptoms like swelling around the wound, along with redness, pain, and nausea.
There are other types of staph infections that can affect both humans and animals. For example, some strains of staph can cause skin rashes, while others can infect wounds on the feet or legs.
This disease occurs when parasites called trichinae to enter the body through the mouth.
This parasite can then travel up the digestive tract and into the muscles where it grows. It may cause muscle weakness, fever, diarrhea, and headaches.
This bacteria is commonly found in soil and sewage and can pass from dogs to humans via contact with dirt or feces.
Yersinia enterocolitica can cause stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
This bacteria is often found in the nasal passages of dogs and can cause respiratory problems.
Dogs can spread bordetella bronchiseptica through their nose and saliva. If your dog has these symptoms, they might need antibiotics or anti-inflammatories to help with their symptoms.
Coccidia is a type of protozoan parasite that lives in the intestines of most mammals. It spreads easily to cats and dogs, which means they can become carriers for this parasite.
When a cat or dog gets coccidiomycosis, they excrete the parasite in their feces, and it can be contracted by humans.
Giardia lamblia is a parasitic organism that causes giardiasis. It is one of the most common intestinal parasites in dogs and cats, but it can also be contracted by humans.
Signs of giardiasis include loose stool, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue.
Pneumonia can be spread from dogs to humans via close contact, including kissing.
It’s important to wash your hands after being near a sick pet, and avoid touching your face if you think your dog has pneumonia.
This virus affects puppies and kittens and can be transferred from mother to offspring.
Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and death. Parvovirus is host specific so dogs do not get cat parvovirus and cats cannot get dog parvovirus. Humans do get parvovirus, but it is a different type from the one that both cats and dogs get.
You cannot catch parvovirus from your dog, however you may pass it onto other dogs if you have contact with infected bodily fluids. Parvovirus is highly contagious and easily transmitted between dogs. Most dogs are vaccinated against Parvovirus for this reason, so young puppies should be kept isolated until their vaccination status is complete.
What Should I Do If My Dog Is Sick?
If your dog has any health problems, whether you have petted and kissed them or not, it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:
Sudden Weight Loss
If your dog suddenly loses weight and you have not been restricting their food, it could mean they’re ill. Make sure your dog eats a balanced diet and drinks lots of water.
Lethargy means your dog isn’t interested in anything. Your dog may appear tired, dull, and uninterested. They may also lose interest in eating, drinking, and playing.
A cough can indicate that your dog has a respiratory infection. If your dog has a persistent cough, it should be treated immediately.
Diarrhea is another sign that your dog may need medical attention. If your dog has diarrhea, it’s important to clean their feces off the floor and remove any items that may cause further harm.
Vomiting may indicate that your dog has eaten something poisonous. It’s important to get help right away. Even tummy bugs can get out of control quickly without proper medical attention.
If your dog has a fever, it’s likely that they’ve caught a virus. A high temperature can be dangerous, so it’s important to treat your dog appropriately.
How Can I Train My Dog To Not Lick Me?
In some cases, you may wish to deter your dog from licking you – especially if you have elderly or vulnerable family members or young children.
If this is the case, there are steps you can take to train your dog, and these include:
Reward Training And Positive Reinforcement
Reward training or positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog when they behave well. This includes giving them food treats, playing with them, or simply praising them.
When using positive reinforcement, it’s important to reward your dog in a timely manner, and avoid overdoing it.
Try distracting your dog away from unwanted behavior. For example, if your dog starts chewing furniture, distract them by throwing a ball or toy for them to chase.
How Else Can I Care For My Dog?
As well as fuss, kisses and plenty of petting, there are a number of other ways to care for your dog, and these include:
A Healthy Diet
Feeding your dog a healthy diet will help them stay fit and happy. A balanced diet should contain protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals.
Make sure your dog eats at least two meals a day, or you may prefer to feed them at regular intervals throughout the day.
It’s important that your dog gets enough exercise every day.
They’ll feel happier and healthier if they get plenty of physical activity. Take your dog out for walks or play games such as fetch, tug-of-war, or Frisbee.
It’s important to brush your dog regularly, especially around their ears, eyes, paws, and genitals.
Brushing helps remove dead skin cells, dust, and other debris from your dog’s coat. It also stimulates blood flow, making their coats look shiny and healthy.
Make sure your dog gets treats and rewards every day. These could include biscuits, bones, toys, or chews.
If you are trying to get your dog to loose weight opt for veggies like carrots and broccoli, or even use your dogs own kibble (just make sure you take it out of their daily allowance!)
Try to give your dog something different each time so they don’t get bored.
Make sure your dog receives routine vaccinations. The best way to protect your dog against illness is to vaccinate them against certain viruses and bacteria.
Vaccination programs vary depending on where you live, so make sure you check with your vet about what vaccines are recommended for your area.
A Safe Environment
Try to keep your dog away from areas where there may be pests, like rodents and insects.
Also try to keep them away from places where there might be chemicals or toxins, like paint, gasoline, and cleaning products.
So, should you kiss your dog? The answer is yes, but I wouldn’t recommend letting them kiss you back!
As long as you’re careful not to cause any harm, and are sure that you are not sick or carrying an illness, then kissing your dog is perfectly safe – provided that the signs show that your pooch is happy, calm, and content with this.
If your dog seems uncomfortable, or gets over excited and tries to kiss you back with licks, then there are steps you can take to deter this behavior, and keep everyone happy, safe, and healthy.
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