Do You Let Your Dog Lick Your Face?

How do you feel about letting your dog lick you in the face (or elsewhere!)? It turns out there are many sides to the answer and expert opinions aside, people seem to embrace dog kiss as a welcome sign of affection.

This week on DOG TALK® we replayed an “evergreen” showa about whether you should allow your dog to lick your face. The cautionary tale about the practice of face licking created some controversy, both times around!

The interview grew out of a New York Times article quoting Dr. Nandi Neilanjan, who warned about the transmissible pathogens people can get from their dogs’ saliva, like worms, e. coli, and more.

Responses came rapid fire, with the first comment coming from a major voice in the field of animal wellness and behavior: Dr. Nick Dodman, the Tufts University Professor Emeritus,  who until recent retirement had run the animal behavior department of Tufts veterinary school. He wrote immediately to take on Dr. Neilanjan’s theory. “She completely missed the fact that face licking by dogs increases your immunity to a number of infections,” Dr. Dodman said, “And besides, zoonoses are really rare.”

A devoted radio listener, Jill on Long Island, had this to say:

“Oh please! I’m almost 58 years old and every square inch of me has been licked daily for most of those 58 years by a myriad of dogs and I’ve never had an issue.

“I would agree that it’s best to be cautious if  you have an open wound, you shouldn’t let your dog lick it, but that’s about it. We’re becoming a society of germaphobes. Dog love does far more good than harm.”

Frankly, I posted the New York Times article and raised the subject on the air because I love to send out flares into cyberspace and see where they land. Shake everybody up a bit. Personally, I have to admit to not really liking being licked, which is odd for a dog person. [But I would never let my dogs know that — and ruin their desire to connect with me?! Never! So lick they do, enthusiastically.

[’d love to know your thoughts if you’d like to write me:]

—Tracie Hothcner

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photo credit: swyngarden Erin has a flavor via photopin (license)