Is it safe to let your dog lick your face? Here's what vets say
Should you let your canine companion lick your face? Experts have mixed opinion.
Pet parents often feel that their canine children licking them is an ultimate sign of affection. While some do not mind licking and kissing by their pets at all, some may worry about catching some kind of infection from them. If you think you can read your dog's mind when they are licking you, here's a trivia - dogs can lick for a variety of reasons not just affection. (Also read: Dog biting cases on rise; dos and don’ts for pet owners by an expert)
They could be trying to communicate something by seeking your attention, attempting to please or simply asking for food. Yes, a lot of times, it could be due to plain affection. Coming back to whether you should let your canine companion lick your face, experts have mixed opinion on this. While some feel it's okay to let them do so, others feel it could be harmful for both pets and their parents. Here's how.
'NOT REALLY UNHYGIENIC', SAYS AN EXPERT
"While it may seem that it is unhygienic it is not so. Yes, it is a known fact that dogs lick themselves and also communicate amongst themselves through various practices. Their licks of affection are completely harmless to the human skin. If you are completely averse towards them licking you, they understand that and try their level best to appease your wish of not being licked but they too lose control and sometimes out of excitement will forget this and just might lick you. This does not mean they are not taking your likes and dislikes into consideration it just means that they love you too much and have no other way of expressing themselves as they have no ways to speak it out to you," says Dr. Shantanu Kalambi, Chief Veterinarian, Supertails.
'LICKING NOT ALLOWED'
Dr Shilpy Minz says she doesn't allow her pets to lick her as the risk of transmission of infections from humans to pets is higher and while pets may not understand the danger the pollutants and dust particles on human face or skin could harm them.
"I don’t allow my pets to lick me when I come back home. The transmission of infection from humans to pets is higher these days than the other way around. We live in polluted cities and environments so pets can also ingest dust particles, pollutants, pollen, etc by licking our faces and hands," says Dr Shilpy Minz, Head of Product, Food and Treats, Wiggles.
Dr Shilpy says it is safe for pets to lick humans if they have just come out of the shower or washed their hands and face thoroughly after coming home.
"We use many creams, makeup, and other skincare that may not be pet-friendly. Women use foundations, oils and chemicals on their face that are not proven to be safe for pets to ingest. I don’t allow my dogs to lick my lipsticks," says the expert.
HUMANS NOT AT RISK, IT'S THE OTHER WAY ROUND
"There is a rise in skin allergies that are proving tough to resolve, besides infections that can prove detrimental to a pet’s health. Reasons could be attributed to the changing environment and chemicals used in our homes and our bodies. The only zoonotic disease is rabies and since many pets are vaccinated and parents maintain their vaccination schedule, it’s safe for pets to lick you. Other safe ways to show affection are cuddles, petting them on laps and of course belly rubs," says Dr Shilpy.
However, experts say one should not let their pets lick the areas around nose, mouth and eyes to minimise risk of infections.
So, the verdict is - let your pet lick you but only after washing your face and hands, and not around nose or mouth.