The Hidden Dangers Dog Kisses Have On Your Health

Getting kisses from your dog, or anyone else's dog, is one of the happiest feelings on earth — so how can dog kisses possibly contain any real hidden health dangers?

As it turns out, while your adorable fur baby is giving you lots of love in those licks — they are also potentially giving you germs that could make you sick.

"On just an overall level of cleanliness, [kissing your pet's mouth is] not good," Omai Garner, assistant clinical professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and associate director of clinical microbiology in the UCLA Health System, reports to Self

There are a host of diseases out there that are transmissible via viruses, bacteria, and parasites, especially through the bodily fluids of an infected animal. Your mouth, nose, and eyes are the most vulnerable portals. Transmission can happen indirectly, if, for instance, your dog licks feces and then gives your mouth a fecal-infused kiss. "Outside of being a little bit gross, you can definitely see disease transmission," says Garner.

According to Self, one of the most common infections that humans can contract from our furry four-legged friends is campylobacteriosis. Campylobacteriosis is a gastrointestinal infection that results when bacteria is transmitted through the feces of an infected animal. While the symptoms for campylobacteriosis, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and fever, can be unpleasant, it typically does not become a serious illness. Although, people with compromised immune systems will be at greater risk.

Should you let your dog kiss you?

If you still plan on letting your dog give you kisses, there are precautionary measures you should take to minimize the possibility of contracting an illness.

"The pathogens really enter your body through the mucous membranes on your face — so the mouth, nose, and eyes," germ expert Kelly Reynolds, associate professor of environmental health at the University of Arizona tells BuzzFeed News. "It doesn't matter if it's your dog or someone else's that licked you, you should still wash your face and hands after," Reynolds advises.

If you're a dog owner, you can also reduce your risk of contracting infection by washing your hands every time you clean up after your dog as well as limiting their movements when they're sick. "Try to isolate the dog so they aren't spreading fecal matter all over the house, don't let them in your bed, wear gloves when you clean up after them, and always wash your hands after touching them," Reynolds says.

So if you enjoy your dog showering you with puppy love, be sure to wash your hands after every contact and try to avoid kisses on the mouth or on any open wounds to make sure those loving licks don't end up making you sick as a dog.