I’m going to be upfront with you – I am not someone who lets their dog ‘kiss’ them. It’s not my cup of tea and for the most part, our dog respects that. He will occasionally sneak a big slobbery kiss on the mouth in, and I immediately feel the need to wash my mouth out with extra-strength Listerine.
Now, I certainly don’t judge anyone who indulges in doggy smooches. You love your dog; your dog loves you. It’s a cute way to show affection. Is it that smooch from your pooch also a potential health risk? Turns out that, yes, it just might be.
We’ve always heard the saying that a dog’s mouth is actually much cleaner than a human mouth. Whether or not that is true, canine (and feline) saliva can contain a bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus. According to The Conversation:
It’s estimated that up to three quarters of healthy dogs harbor this bacteria(sic) in their mouths. These animals suffer no ill effects and, in truth, humans coming into contact with this bacteria(sic) rarely suffer any medical consequences.
The key word in that paragraph being RARELY. Capnocytophaga canimorsus can cause serious complications for those with depleted or fragile immune systems. The most common people to fall in that category are the elderly and children.
A medical report listed in the above article noted the case of a woman who was infected via a lick from her greyhound. Capnocytophaga canimorsus is more commonly transferred via bite, which is why this case was unusual.
In the end, will a kiss from your dog be deadly? It is not very likely. But, it’s still best to be aware of the possibility and use common sense.