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Do Dogs Like Kisses? An Exploration of the Human-Canine Kiss

kissing your dog- ruffle snuffle

Do dogs like kisses? It’s a question that has long puzzled dog owners and scientists alike. But now, we may finally have the answer. In this article, we will explore the canine kiss and what it means for both dog and human relationships. Dogs love kissing their human companions on the mouth, but do they understand what a kiss is? And why do they love giving us wet, slobbery kisses in the first place? Keep reading to find out!

Dogs have been shown to enjoy giving kisses. In one study, dogs were more likely to approach people who had just eaten a dog biscuit than those who hadn’t, indicating that they associate the taste of human food with getting a kiss. Dogs may also enjoy kissing because it allows them to interact closely with their humans.

For humans, dog kisses can be a little gross, but they also carry deep emotional significance. In many cases, dog kisses are a sign of love and trust. When your dog gives you a big wet one on the mouth, it’s their way of saying “I love you” and “I trust you.”

So why do dogs kiss each other? Well, as with most things canine, there’s no single answer to that question. Some experts believe that dogs kiss each other as part of their social bonding process, while others think that they may simply enjoy the taste of their partner’s saliva. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that dog kisses hold a lot of meaning for both us and our furry friends!

Do dogs like giving kisses?

Dogs love giving kisses because they enjoy the smell and taste of human saliva. They may also kiss their owners as a sign of affection. Dogs have been shown to enjoy giving kisses. In one study, dogs were more likely to approach people who had just eaten a dog biscuit than those who hadn’t, indicating that they associate the taste of human food with giving a kiss.

What is a snuffle mat? x
What is a snuffle mat?

“Generally, dogs lick us to show affection, and also love the saltiness of our skin. They will also lick for comfort, in times of anxiety and fear,” said Will Draper, a WebMD contributor from The Village Vets practices in Atlanta, Ga.

What does it mean when your dog kisses you?

Dogs may lick or kiss their owners as a sign of affection, dominance, submission, or to show that they trust you. In some cases, a dog may also lick or kiss you as a way of asking for something such as food or attention.

Do dogs understand kisses?

Dogs do not necessarily understand what kisses are, but they know that when they lick or kiss their owner’s face, they will usually get attention or receive a reward in return. They have made a simple association with the taste and smell of human saliva with positive things. Dogs learn this from an early age as we shower our puppies with kisses, soft soothing voices and cuddles. But sadly, dogs that are raised in an abusive household have not been able to make this association and learnt that kisses are good.

Why does my dog kiss me so much?

Some dogs may kiss their owners excessively because they enjoy the taste and smell of human saliva, while others may do it as a way to show their affection. A female dog may lick or kiss with increased frequency when they are in heat because they are looking for a mate.

Why do dogs kiss each other?

Dogs usually lick and kiss each other as a way of communicating, marking their territory, or showing dominance. In some cases, they may also do it as a sign of affection. Dogs often prefer to lick the body parts that have a high concentration of scent glands, such as the face, neck, and genitals. This allows them to exchange information about each other through their scent.

dogs kissing

Do dogs like getting kisses?

Most dogs enjoy receiving kisses from their owners, although some may be hesitant at first, especially if they are a stray or a rescue from an abusive home.

Body language and signs that your dog loves a kiss

  • Acting excited
  • Being alert
  • Jumping up
  • Licking
  • Nuzzling or cuddling up to you
  • Tail wagging
  • Tilting head
  • Pawing at you

Body language and signs that your dog doesn’t want to be kissed

  • Lip licking
  • Yawning
  • Looking away
  • Giving you the ‘Whale eye’
  • Growling
  • Cowering
  • Ears flat back
  • Tense body

So, are dog kisses bad for you?

Well, that kind of depends on how slobbery your kisses are! Kissing on the head is probably fine, however french kissing your dog is not a good idea. Why? Well apart from potentially getting bitten, your dog has a lot of rather nasty bacteria (over 700 different types!) in their mouth that they could unintentionally transfer to you. 

Bacteria in your dog’s mouth include:

Pastuerella – this bacteria lives in the mouth of your dog and can cause skin, lymph node and more severe infections.

Bartonella henselae can cause a severe skin and lymph node infection known as cat-scratch-fever 

SalmonellaE. coliClostridia and Campylobacter – intestinal bacteria of pets that can cause severe intestinal disease in humans.

Getting sick from kissing or licking your dog is most often caused by contact with fecal matter that can be passed on because your dog licked their bum, and then you. Occasionally parasite eggs can be passed on to you from your dog which can result in intestinal disease, skin problems, blindness, and brain disorders.  Like bacteria, a fecal-to-oral transmission is the most likely path to sickness for humans.

Dr. Thomas Nolan, adjunct professor of parasitology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, notes that transferring parasites is also possible, but unlikely. Parasites like giardia and cryptosporidium are infectious as they leave a dog in its stool. So, if an infected dog licks himself and then offers up kisses, it would be possible to transmit the parasites. This cross-infection is known as zoonotic. But, according to Nolan, the number of parasitic cysts passed on from a lick is probably not high enough to cause you to get ill.

A small 2011 study published in PubMed of 66 dogs and 81 people in Japan suggested dogs kissing their owner’s mouths might swap disease-causing oral bacteria. 

Interestingly, researchers at the University Arizona (UA) believe that the microbes contained in a dog’s gut could have a probiotic effect on the human body – encouraging the growth of positive microorganisms. The histatins in your dog’s saliva could aid in wound healing by promoting the spread and migration of new skin cells.

So should I let my dog kiss me?

Two reasons you may need to consider before any doggy kisses take place are: 

  • if a dog licks someone who has a weak immune system (like those with cancer)
  • if the dog has a medical condition that could spread( like peridontal disease or parasites)

Dr. Shelley Rankin, associate professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, recommends against it. “It’s my belief, professionally and personally, that you should not let your dog lick your face,” says Rankin, who studies disease transmission between pets and people.

Before you ban all doggy kisses, there has been some data showing dog germs can have a positive effect. For example, a 2012 study published in Pediatrics showed having a dog at home during an infant’s first year of life prevents respiratory illnesses. Dog exposure might even prevent a type of eczema. Some have suggested dog germs are so helpful to a human’s immune system, there could be a market for pills of pup bacteria

But, on the whole, there isn’t enough data to show whether or not specifically dog saliva is healthy for humans or not, said Kimberly Kelly, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

kissing your dog
Will you kiss your dog now?

In conclusion

Humans are natural dog lovers, and we’d like to think that our dogs enjoy giving kisses to us, their owners, too. But it’s important to be aware of the language your dog is speaking when he or she licks you on the face: You may want to make sure that what your dog is saying with a kiss means “I love you” rather than “give me food.” Or maybe even both! 

So, abstaining from kissing and licking is the best tactic — if you can help yourself.

“Is there a risk? Absolutely. Should you do it? No. Will you do it? Probably.” 

Will you kiss your dog?

We hope these tips help you understand how dogs think and relate better with them in the future – because no one deserves more hugs and kisses than man’s best friend.

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