Is it OK to kiss your pet?
Pucker up for controversy.
There’s a controversy in veterinary medicine that divides the profession, and it’s over something that many pet owners never give a second thought: kissing your pets. As you might imagine, I have some thoughts on this topic. Because, yes, I kiss my pets, and yes, I know I probably shouldn’t.
To kiss or not to kiss
Not long ago, Dr. Christina Winn came out in favor of pet kissing in a Veterinary Economics cover piece. Dr. Winn was looking at ways to develop better communications with pet owners so pets will be more likely to get the care they need. The antikissing contingent blew her a raspberry soon after, with a letter signed by a handful of veterinarians, including my good friend Dr. Tony Johnson, a clinical assistant professor of critical care at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine. Their point: It is indeed possible to catch something from such close contact with a pet.
I’ve taken this issue on, in very public ways, and I have to admit that I can see both sides. I still remember doing a segment on Good Morning America about zoonotic diseases, or those that are transmissible from animals to humans.
Looking right into the camera and pointing to my mouth for emphasis, I said, “It’s really not a good idea to let your pets kiss or lick you on the mouth.”
Upward of 4 million people heard my recommendation, and probably 3.9 million pet owners, including me, ignored my good advice. In fact, the evening after that show, I pulled into the garage at our Almost Heaven Ranch and opened the door of the pickup to Quixote, our 16-pound canine cocktail.
“Ah, you want to give daddy some sugars?” I said. And he did.
Can't help myself
Despite recent studies about the transmission of bacteria between pets and people causing dental disease, I continue to let my pets give me kisses. And I do so knowing where those mouths have been. And while I know that my pets are in the very best of health — with regular brushings and dental cleanings under anesthesia when necessary — I don’t draw the line there. I kiss my patients when I’m practicing too. Within reason, of course: Sick, scared or aggressive pets get a pass.
Kissing pets is popular, sensible or not. While disease transmission does happen now and then, it’s usually more of an annoyance (such as ringworm) than a threat. A few months ago my wife and I tapped into the furnomenon by running a kissing booth at a local dog fair to raise money for our local animal shelter. Teresa and our two 16-pound doorbells, Quixote and Quora, worked the booth for two hours, raising more than $50 in that time. That was a slurp every two-and-a-half minutes. Teresa even got a kiss from a Jack Russell terrier who rode by on his own horse. (No, I’m not making that up.)
Kiss away ... with caution
But back to the risks. Shortly after the study about the transfer of oral bacteria from pets to people came out, I talked with Dr. Richard E. Besser, a pediatrician and the former acting head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the current ABC News chief health and medical editor.
“What do you think about this, Dr. Becker?” he asked me, to which I replied, “When’s the last time you ever heard or read of a veterinarian dying of a zoonotic disease or having no teeth from dental disease?”
“Exactly,” replied Dr. Besser. “I’m still kissing my dogs!”
And so am I.
More from Vetstreet:
5 popular dog breeds this veterinarian wants to see less of
5 once-popular breeds that are disappearing
Pictures: 11 unforgettable animal smiles
My dog has a gay tail. What does that mean?
A veterinarian’s surprise confession
Photo: Should you kiss your pets? /iStock
Everyone who lets their dog lick their faces should remember that dogs also lick their butts!
i kiss my male cat all the time his name is casanova need i say more :)
pics, advice, info and stories for pet lovers
They lay, they play, and they take selfies with supermodels. Meet 5 of the most social media-savvy pets—animals taking control of their own fashionable online image.
A recent study shows why
Not many leading ladies have four legs, lots of hair and, well, dog breath. But that hasn’t stopped Chris Naka from posing alongside office pooch Wrigley in a series of pictures recreating iconic scenes from romantic movies. Naka, 30, told Today that the fun began when he and his creative coworkers at the Blue Man Group in Chicago decided to use the last few minutes of their lunch break to pose their boss’ dog with him in a scene from Titanic. And an idea was born. “Someone printed a bunch of our early pictures, posted them in the green room, and folks from all over the theater started sending emails with movie suggestions,” he said. Check out some of their funny (and bizarre) pictures here.
We talked to 122 veterinary professionals and got their take on which canines are the smartest of them all.
This year, Animal Planet is pulling out all the stops for Puppy Bowl X. The tenth-anniversary extravaganza promises penguin cheerleaders, canine first responders singing the National Anthem, and special appearances by Lil Bub and Keyboard Cat, who will be performing a piano-filled rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” during the kitten halftime show. Best of all, continuing the tradition of showcasing adoptable pets, all the puppy players are up for adoption or have already found forever families. We’re hoping that the pups are watching themselves on TV from the comfort of their new homes. The main event starts at 3 p.m. EST on February 2 on Animal Planet. As you wait for the most anticipated event of the season, check out the starting lineup of some of our favorite Puppy Bowl players. And be sure to head to the Animal Planet site later this month to create your own Puppy Bowl fantasy league. Out of 11 all-star puppies, participants will be able to pick a fantasy team of three players.
Walter the otter is settling into his new home
We recently listed the top five smartest dog breeds as chosen by veterinary professionals, and, unsurprisingly, our readers were quick to comment on other breeds that show enormous intelligence. Now we're sharing another result from that survey of 122 veterinary professionals. We aren't going to say "least intelligent" because all dogs have their own kind of genius, right? But we will say that in the opinion of the surveyed veterinary professionals, the breeds named here aren't necessarily known for their cleverness even if they are known for having many wonderful characteristics. Of course, please know that in no way are we saying these dogs aren't smart or aren't trainable. They just might not keep up with the Border Collie in their obedience class. And that's OK — whether our pets sit at the front of the class or flunk out of puppy school, we love them just the same.
Typically, cats don't rush up and bombard you with kisses like some dogs, but many do display genuine friendliness. Happy-to-be-with-you cats range from the demure lap lounger to the chatty feline who escorts you from room to room. Vetstreet shines the spotlight on nine feline breeds with stellar reputations for thoroughly enjoying the company of their favorite people.
Do you find it hard to sit still? Would you rather spend your time running and playing and working outdoors instead of lounging at home on the couch? If so, you may have met your match in these breeds. We polled 122 veterinary experts to get their opinions on which dog breeds are the most energetic. Here are the five that received the most votes!
Are cats an acquired taste?
Researchers say invention can tell you what your dog is thinking.
Mom shocked by big fish in photo.