Dog Kisses and Disease


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An October 2016 article in the journal Nature World News points out the potential danger of letting your dog lick or “kiss” you or your children. Animal’s mouths are hosts for bacteria, viruses and yeast, some of which can be passed on to humans and cause illness. A dog’s saliva has proteins that may help cleanse or heal its own wounds, but these substances are unique to dogs and are not meant for transmission to humans.

Dogs, which sometimes eat other dogs’ feces, can also spread roundworm eggs to humans by licking or touching your mucus membranes, such as the eyes, nose and mouth.

Cats do not eat feces so people are unlikely to become infected from parasites from cats, but they can harbor bacteria such as pasteurella and bartonella heselae. Both of these can cause infections of skin and lymph nodes.

So love your pets, but take precautions in order to minimize the chance of spreading disease.

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer in Chapel Hill. 

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