The Dangers of Kissing Your Pet on the Mouth: Is It Worth the Risk?

We all know how irresistible our furry friends can be, especially when they shower us with kisses. But did you know that letting your dog or cat kiss your face could actually lead to serious bacterial infections? It may sound alarming, but it’s true – these infections can even result in the loss of limbs or, in some cases, be fatal!

The Kisses That Can Harm

Many people fall into one of two camps when it comes to letting their pets’ tongues touch their lips. Some can’t get enough of those slobbery kisses, while others prefer to keep some distance. But if you stop and think about where that tongue has been – their nether region, eating grass stained with poop – those expressions of love may not seem so cute anymore.

Furthermore, while your fur baby is licking a seemingly clean area of your skin, they may be leaving behind a danger that could be life-threatening to humans. A TikTok user, who goes by the handle “medexplained2you,” warns, “You could actually lose your limbs over it.” He explains that kissing your dog on the mouth can lead to an infection called Capnocytophaga Canimorsus, caused by bacteria that live in the mouths of dogs and cats.

The Risk and Complications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these bacteria, which do not make cats or dogs sick, can spread to humans through scratches, bites, and close contact with pets. Capnocytophaga infection can have serious complications, including heart attack, kidney failure, and even gangrene. In severe cases, fingers, toes, or even limbs may need to be amputated.

While the infection is rare, it can progress rapidly and lead to death, especially in immunocompromised individuals. The elderly, heavy alcohol consumers, and those without a spleen are also at a greater risk. Symptoms typically appear within three to five days of infection, and about 3 in 10 people with severe infections die.

Real-Life Examples

Over the past few years, there have been several cases that shed light on the dangers of Capnocytophaga. In 2022, South African actress Charlbi Dean died unexpectedly from bacterial sepsis. Though it was not confirmed if an animal caused the infection, the fact that Dean had her spleen removed after a 2009 car crash may have contributed to the rapid progression of the infection.

In 2019, Marie Trainer from Ohio had both her hands and legs amputated after getting a rare infection from a German shepherd puppy who licked an open cut. Despite this traumatic experience, Trainer has no intention of parting with her two dogs and even had them visit her in the hospital.

The same year, two unrelated patients in Wisconsin, Sharon Larson and Greg Manteufel, experienced severe complications from Capnocytophaga infections. Larson, bitten by her dog, tragically died, while Manteufel had to undergo surgery to amputate his hands and lower legs. These cases highlight the fact that anyone can be at risk for capnocytophaga, even seemingly healthy individuals.

To Kiss or Not to Kiss?

So, should we avoid those adorable kisses from our pets altogether? The TikTok user advises, “Why not avoid all that trouble and stop tonguing your dog. Seems like an easy fix to me.” However, many pet lovers are not easily swayed. Some believe that the joy and love they receive from their furry companions outweigh the risks involved.

While some people argue that they’ve been kissing their pets for years without any issues, it’s important to remember that there are real dangers associated with pet saliva. It’s crucial to consider the potential risks, especially for newborn babies and individuals with compromised immune systems.

Share Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on this story? Do you let your dog or cat lick your lips? Let us know in the comments. Share this article with others and let’s start a conversation about the risks and joys of pet kisses!