Did you know that dog kisses can make you sick? Contrary to common wives’ tales, dogs’ mouths are not cleaner than those of humans. In fact, their mouths are teeming with bacteria, and may harbor germs like salmonella and campylobacter. These organisms get into a dog’s mouth from eating spoiled food or when he uses his tongue as toilet paper. Then, when he licks your face or—worse yet—your mouth, he transfers these germs from his tongue to you. You might enjoy playing kissy face with your pooch, but wash up thoroughly after each session lest you wind up with an unromantic case of diarrhea.
Conversely, you can be responsible for making your dog or cat sick. It’s not common, but it happens. Pet owners suffering with H1N1 (swine flu) have passed on the ailment to their cats and dogs. Most often it’s mild, but a few pets have died. This is true for other contaminants as well, such as the MRSA “superbug” and strains of E. coli bacteria. So when you or your pet gets sick, sleep apart from one another, and wash your hands frequently.