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Should we let our dog lick our faces? “This is science's answer.”

Should we let our dog lick our faces?  “This is science's answer.”

The dog expresses his love with this gesture, but how healthy is allowing this? We will tell you the expert's opinion on this matter.

Licking is a natural behavior in dogs and can serve a variety of purposes. In fact, a dog's whine could be a response to a human emotion, because these pets are rare empathetic creatures able to recognize our emotional state, and are already accustomed to responding to it. Therefore, it is not surprising that dogs also use licks as a form of communication with their human companions – but the question is how good of an idea it is to allow this, primarily from a hygiene point of view. Jacqueline Boyd, a zoologist at Nottingham Trent University, researched this topic, whose article was picked up by Science Alert magazine We summarize this briefly below.

Many dog ​​owners don't mind if their pet licks it, but it's worth keeping in mind that what a dog puts in its mouth isn't always hygienically clean. In other words, it's great to love our furry friends, but it's important to be aware of the health risks associated with dog saliva, which especially affects people with compromised immune systems or those with open wounds. Interestingly, according to historical reports, animal saliva was used for wound healing in the past, but according to modern medicine, this is not a very good idea, and even if possible, we avoid pets licking our wounds if possible. Because of the risk of infection.

Dog saliva can harbor microorganisms, and although most dog-human interactions are harmless, it is rare for our pet to transmit serious diseases through licking. Zoonotic infections, although uncommon, can pose a significant health risk.

Zoonotic infections are diseases transmitted from animals to humans. These infections can be viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi, and there are several ways they spread between animals and humans, for example through direct contact or even by eating infected animal products. Some well-known zoonotic diseases include avian influenza, scabies, Lyme disease, rabies, toxoplasmosis, and Ebola. These diseases can cause varying degrees of health problems in people, ranging from mild symptoms to severe, life-threatening cases.

Measures to prevent and treat zoonotic diseases include animal health monitoring and control, as well as good hygiene practices when handling animals.

Another focal point in the debate about the health effects of dog licking is the potential spread of antibiotic resistance, which is a global health problem. However, a German study found that the risk of transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms between pets and their owners is very small, suggesting that owning a pet does not significantly increase the risk of such colonization.

Bonding between humans and dogs has many benefits, including maintaining mental health or even improving physical activity. Although licking is not necessary for this bond, you don't have to give it up either, as it is generally considered safe for most people. Because within reason, it's probably safe for most people to let their dogs lick them. With good treatment, medical care (for both owner and dog) and excellent hygiene, the risk of accidental licks is likely to be minimal. However, even in this case, it is worth avoiding that the dog's licking comes into contact with our mouth as well.

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(Image: Pixabay/mieke59)

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