Is It Safe To Let Your Dog Kiss Your Face?

Is It Safe To Let Your Dog Kiss Your Face?

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Kissing is a way of showing affection between humans. Sometimes, dogs also show affection by kissing their beloved humans. Only their form of kissing is licking. If you have a highly affectionate dog, you might have wondered from time to time about whether these so-called kisses are safe. Well, the fact is, they are not.

Problems Regarding Dog Kisses 

The reason behind the kisses being unsafe is that the mouth of your dog contains a large number of organisms like bacteria, parasites, yeasts, and viruses, which humans aren’t immune to. Some of them can even transfer from your dog’s mouth to you, causing illnesses like salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli.Dogs are curious creatures. Remember that they use their mouths to explore the world around them. When they are on a scent, their noses are to the ground. That’s why it’s also likely that the bacteria is not just limited to his mouth but also his muzzle and face. The mucous membranes of your nose, eyes, and mouth can absorb your dog’s saliva while he’s licking your face. It can then easily enter into your body. Although your immune system might be strong enough to fight a few of these organisms off, there are exceptions. You are at a higher risk of illness if you have a weakened immune system due to prior medical conditions or age.

Concerns For Kids 

Children have immature immune systems as they are still under development. Make sure you keep your dogs or puppies from licking your kid’s face. Their underdeveloped immune systems aren’t strong enough to fight off the microbes that are transferred through these kisses. Some puppies harbor intestinal parasites. These parasites lay eggs in the puppy’s intestines. These eggs are then eliminated through his stool. Your puppy might have remnants of the stool on his paws, and when he licks them, they are transferred to his mouth. When your puppy kisses your child afterward, these parasites can just as easily infect her. Intestinal parasites are very serious in children. Some parasites like roundworms can even lead to blindness!

Set Some Ground Rules 

If you’re not ready to depart with your dog’s kisses just yet, set a few rules to be safer.

  • Keep all your dog’s deworming, vaccinations, and parasite prevention updated.
  • Avoid the kisses altogether if your immune system is weak or has been compromised.
  • Wash your hands and face after being with your dog.
  • Pay ample attention to your dog’s dental health by brushing his teeth every day and taking him to regular professional dental cleanings as per your veterinarian’s recommendation.
  • Watch children closely and try to keep your dog from kissing them all together if possible.
  • Don’t get licked by a dog you don’t know, even when that dog is a pet of a friend.

Do Dogs Like When You Kiss Them?

Your dog kisses you, and it seems natural that you kiss it back. It is wrong to assume that your dog will automatically appreciate your kiss. The reality is a majority of dogs find it uncomfortable when humans kiss them. Many canines find kissing intimidating. Others have simply found ways to accept this behavior.

Dogs and humans communicate differently

Your dog may not understand the reason behind your kiss. This is because dogs communicate differently than humans. We rely on sign or verbal language when expressing emotions and ideas. Dogs depend primarily on the posture of the body of the other dog when communicating with others. Like humans, the language of dogs has evolved over the passage of time.

Among all dogs, Huskies continue to show the language closest to their ancestor wolves. German Shepherds can barely communicate with wolves. The most evolved language among the dog breeds is found among the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. These differences mean even dogs find it hard to communicate with each other. Since it is not possible for us to comprehend dog language, a few things get lost in translation, especially kissing and hugging. The act of kissing is unique to humans. Other animals, especially dogs, do not kiss. A dog does not understand what kisses are. A few dogs, however, link the action of a kiss with affection.

Granted, your dogs kiss you regularly. This action comprises licking your face. Dogs lick each others' faces to show affection. To a human, dog licking equals kisses, but to your dog, the same action may mean something else, really. To give an example, a puppy may lick its mother's face to ask the latter to regurgitate food. This is common among puppies before they grow out of this habit.

Submissive behavior

For male dogs, licking equals submissive behavior. A weaker dog may lick a stronger dog's muzzle to avoid any retribution. On the other hand, the dog could only be curious about the food consumption of the other dog.

There could be a number of reasons as to why your dog licks you. Canines are observant. If you react positively to a lick, your dog will possibly repeat the action. This, in time, may become attention-seeking behavior. Your dog licks you to get your attention. Things may take another turn if the dog is stressed out or injured. Licking means being submissive at that time. The dog is pleading that you should not hurt it. As far as human kissing goes, putting faces close together means assertion in dog language. If it turns away, then it is barely tolerating your kiss. To be safe, you should not kiss dogs on their heads. Most dogs, at best, tolerate humans kissing them.

How Risky Is It To Kiss Your Dog?

Everyone wants to show a little love to their pooches from time to time. The vets, on the other hand, ask you not to let your dogs lick your face. Experts say that dogs' saliva has wound-healing abilities. Dog parents are now left puzzled about whether they should let their dog lick their faces or they should kiss their pooches. Taking a more detailed look at all the perspectives will help us make a decision.

The cautious perspective

Pet's saliva has bacteria and parasites present in them. Pastuerella, Bartonella henselae, and other bacteria that can cause a range of medical problems. These include skin infections, lymph node infections, and more severe conditions. Campylobacter, Clostridia and Salmonella are also present in pets' digestive systems. These 3 are the ones that humans have to worry about, as they can cause serious intestinal issues. One thing to note is that the first set of bacteria is mostly transmitted through scratches, as proven by various studies. There is also no solid proof that having your pet lick your face is a major transmission source of salmonella and other bacteria. Parasites are also something that pets can carry with no symptoms, but once contracted by humans, it can lead to intestinal diseases, blindness, and, in severe cases, brain disorders. Parasitic worms and single cell parasites are present in pet intestines, and facial licking is a source of transmission of these parasites. However, only 2 types of parasites can be passed on through facial licking – Giardia and Cryptosporidia. Cats cannot transmit these parasites as they do not eat their own feces.

The positive perspective

Research has proven that a dog's saliva has healing elements in it. It is actually a historical belief that has been passed on through generations before being scientifically proven. Scientists have discovered that pet saliva contains histratins. This compound has been proven to encourage the faster spread of new skin cells. When saliva contracts with a wound, it promotes the generation of nitric oxide. This promotes bacterial growth and prevents infection. Some studies even say that a dog's saliva could reduce the healing time by half.


In the end, very few bacteria and, consequently, diseases can be spread through licking. So, it is generally okay to give your pooch a kiss sometimes. Just make sure you know what it's been licking recently. Additionally, to prevent the spread of infections, people with long-term illnesses and weak immune systems must avoid kissing pets in general. Most importantly, make sure your dog likes it as a form of affection. Dogs that do not want to be kissed will turn their faces away or lick their lips. Pay attention to these signs and respect them.

Should I let my dog kiss my face?

All animal experts advocate that dogs should not be allowed to lick the face, eyes, and nose, as it can lead to zoonotic diseases. It is a scientifically proven fact that dog saliva can contain bacteria that may not affect their health or might even be beneficial for them, but they can harm you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges caution when it comes to intimate interactions between humans and their pets. Even though the risk is generally low, especially if your dog is healthy and well cared for. However, if you have a compromised immune system or are particularly susceptible to infections, it’s best to avoid letting your dog lick your face. Also, allowing your dog to lick your face can reinforce certain behaviors, and you'll want to make sure your dog understands boundaries and knows when it's appropriate to lick.

What does it mean when a dog kisses your face?

When a dog kisses your face, it's typically a sign of affection and bonding. Dogs often lick their owners' faces as a way to show love, respect, and trust. In the wild, licking is a common behavior among canines, often used to communicate submission and affection or to groom one another. Licking is also a way for dogs to gather information about their environment and the people they interact with, as their sense of taste and smell is highly developed. When your dog licks your face, they may be trying to establish a connection with you, express their happiness, or simply enjoy your presence. While it's generally a harmless behavior, it can potentially transmit bacteria or pathogens, so it's necessary to maintain good hygiene practices for both yourself and your pet.

Should I let my dog lick my hands?

Allowing your dog to lick your hands is generally safe and can be a way for them to show affection and bond with you. While your dog's mouth carries bacteria, it's usually not harmful in small quantities. However, if you have any open wounds or cuts on your hands, it's best to avoid letting your dog lick them to prevent potential infection. Also, if you don't want your dog to lick your hands, it's necessary to establish boundaries and train them accordingly. Consistent training can help teach your dog when licking is acceptable and when it's not. Some people may be allergic to proteins found in a dog's saliva, which can cause irritation or an allergic reaction, so don’t indulge them if you experience any discomfort or allergic symptoms after your dog licks your hands.

What does my dog think when I kiss his face?

While we can't definitively know what goes on in a dog's mind, when you kiss your dog's face, they may interpret it as a form of affection and bonding. Dogs are highly attuned to human behavior and often learn to associate certain actions, such as kissing, with positive experiences. Your dog might interpret your kisses as a gesture of love and attention, similar to how they might interpret physical affection from another dog in their pack. They may also respond positively to the attention and closeness they receive from you during this interaction. However, every dog’s interpretation of your actions may vary based on their personality, past experiences, and relationship with you. Some dogs may enjoy being kissed on the face, while others may not be as comfortable with it. Behaviorist and trainer Karen B. London mentions in The Wildest that some dogs may feel more stressed than loved when they are kissed or hugged. When someone puts their face close to a dog’s, they may feel threatened by it, and hugging is not a natural instinct for puppies. 

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