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No tongues: dog bug snuggle risk for French-kissers and plate-sharers

Mouth to mouth interaction with your dog may be harming him. dog-sad
© Glasgow Caledonian University - Twitter

If you kiss your dog on the mouth or share a bowl with him, you’re doing it wrong and may be putting yourself at risk of antibiotic-resistant infection, according to researchers.

By G. John Cole , 5 May 2019

Bug boffins at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have warned that pets and people are developing ever more drug-resistant bacteria as medics prescribe them unnecessary antibiotics for other issues. Those bugs are then able to hop over into the human or dog body through saliva or through open wounds.

Never stop snoozling

But the project’s leader, Health psychologist Dr Adele Dickson, acknowledges the value and importance of snoozling, canoodling, and the occasional boop. She says that we shouldn’t panic ourselves out of a cuddle:

“As the owner of a two-year-old golden retriever, I know how important that affectionate relationship between the owner and their pet is to both mental and physical health and wellbeing,” she said, as quoted on the GCU website.

“I’m not saying pet owners need to stop showing affection for their companion animals because we know from our research and from speaking to 23 British dog, cat and rabbit owners who shared their stories that these behaviours are so deeply treasured they are unlikely to be amenable to change.”

Indeed, Dr Dickson is careful to point out that the main problem is not at the snoozling end, but with the administering of antibiotics in the first place. These drugs are often over-used or mis-used when more appropriate healthcare would be better in the long run.

“The biggest take home message to pet owners from this study is to think twice about whether your pet, you, your children or other family members actually need antibiotics,” she continued. “The worst case scenario if people don’t heed this advice is potentially catastrophic for the family and the pet. The consequences are very real and could be life-threatening.”

Clean cutlery and no French-kissing

If cutting down on the antibiotics is the first rule, the second rule is just to be a bit more wary of how owners and their dogs treat the sharing of body fluids around the home.

“Many of the participants reported the owner-companion animal relationship is made meaningful and enacted through close physical contact, affection and displays of emotion,” said Dickson. “They also shared stories of sharing eating utensils such as cups and plates or allowing pets to eat from their bare hands.”

The message is clear: treat your dog like a beloved uncle, not your girlfriend. Tussle, embrace, give him a little scratch on the belly, but limit wet kissing and wash your hands after he licks them. You don’t know where he’s been.