Loving a pet is a wonderful feeling. These pets are part of their owners' lives, sharing thousands of moments with them.
Its evolution is followed and the moment of death is a catastrophe. Cats or dogs take photos and videos on social networks and inhabit the common spaces of homes. Their care is crucial, which is why the owner's care must not be neglected.
But they shouldn't be ignored: serious bacterial infections caused by a licking dog have been described in medical histories. For example, a rare but potentially fatal pathogen, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, can be particularly risky for the elderly, those who drink heavily or among those who are immunocompromised or whose spleen is not functioning.
The risks of getting licked by your dog
The chances of getting sick are very low, but there are certain risks. Why? These animals, mindful of their nature, will generally suck on anything they find, even excrement. Also their intimate zones or the lifeless bodies of other animals. And that's how close they come to human skin.
So some actions can be dangerous. Even if they are common and considered harmless. In the case of dogs, a very common solution is to allow them to lick your face. Letting them come and lick your face is not considered dangerous, but it could be.
Capnocytophaga infections are more common after a bite, but can occur without being bitten. While these risks sound scary, it's important to remember that they're extremely rare, says Sonya Krishnan in the Washington Post. The infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says the chances are similar to “being struck by lightning”. Some research has estimated the incidence rate of Capnocytophaga septicemia at between 0.5 and 0.7 cases per million people per year.
Ways to reduce risks
Even if you follow expert advice, a dog may bend over and suckle, catching you off guard. To reduce this unforeseen event, one of the most important measures is to keep your vaccinated pet in order. “Your skin forms a solid barrier for bacteria to penetrate and cause infection. So there's little risk of infection if a dog licks your skin,” Krishnan insisted.
One basic precaution is to keep your puppy away from open wounds, as well as pimples and cold sores. It's also safest to avoid mucous membranes such as the mouth, nose or eyes. And of course, it's not recommended that a stray or unknown dog should lick you.
Risks for children
Another concern about bringing your face close to a dog is that it will bite you. In fact, a study by the American Journal claims that 37% of some 1,300 children treated for dog bite injuries suffered from a pet.
What's more, most of these bites are on the hands or lower limbs, but they can occur on the head or neck. That's why it's essential not to leave them unattended with the animal, even if there's nothing to stop them enjoying domestic love. Test your skin, stools and teeth to stay healthy. This will also be a remedy for humans.
Dogs are wonderful companions, but precautions should be taken when they lick us. Risks of serious infection are rare, but they do exist. It's important to maintain good hygiene and keep pets vaccinated. Avoid letting dogs lick your open wounds, pimples or mucous membranes. Immunocompromised people in particular should take extra precautions. And let's not forget to monitor interactions between dogs and children to avoid bites.
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