As dog owners, we know some things are inevitable. Whether it’s a one-time occurrence or an everyday thing, your dog will lick your face at some point.
It may be your own dog or even a stranger’s dog.
Why Do Dogs Lick Faces?
There may be multiple reasons you might get a slobbery face licks. Here are a few of the most common reasons behind these occasions.
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Licking to show affection is a behavior that puppies learn from their mothers and siblings. It helps them strengthen their family bond.
When your dog licks your face, he may simply be expressing his affection for you and trying to strengthen the bond between you two.
Wild dogs use face-licking to show respect for their pack leader. When your dog licks your face, he may be showing you that he recognizes and acknowledges you as his leader.
Another reason for face licking is that it is a way to beg for food. Puppies lick their mother’s lips to trigger a reflex so the puppy can eat the food that the mother regurgitates.
Grooming The Owner
Dogs naturally lick to clean themselves or their littermates. When he licks you, he may just want to groom you and make sure that you are also clean.
Tasting Human Skin
Human sweat has a salty taste that some dogs seem to enjoy. If your dog is one of these, he may be licking your face simply because he likes the salty taste of your skin.
It’s possible that your dog just enjoys licking. Licking releases endorphins in dogs and gives them a sense of comfort and security.
He may be licking you because he feels safe.
Dogs May Offer “Kisses”
Since dogs can pucker their lips like humans do when they kiss, licking is also just the dog’s natural form of kissing.
Why Should You NOT Let Your Dog Lick Your Face?
While it may not bother you at first, there are a few health issues you should consider when it comes to your dog licking your face.
You Don’t Know Where His Mouth Has Been
Dogs tend to eat things that humans wouldn’t dare put in our mouths.
They lick their own private body parts, they sometimes eat other animals waste, and while it may seem gross to us, it is natural to them. Their bodies are equipped to handle the germs that go along with it all.
Certain Bacteria Does Not Translate Well
Most of the bacteria in your dog’s mouth are harmless, but they can also carry bacteria or parasites that pass through animals and cause diseases.
Salmonella, Pasteurella, Campylobacter, and Leptospira are just a few of the dangerous bacteria your dog may carry.
These are picked up by sniffing or eating other animal waste, or drinking contaminated water from a puddle or pond. Many dogs may even carry bacteria while having no symptoms of illness.
Parasites Are Real
Alongside bacteria, parasites can also sometimes be found in your dog. Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Hookworm are parasites that cause diarrhea and upset stomachs.
Dogs can also pass on Ringworm, which creates a rash on the skin.
Some people may say that a lick from a dog will improve your body’s immune system, but this logic doesn’t hold up with parasites.
Famous People Like Obama Wouldn’t Like Their Face Licked
Bo and Sunny, the former “First Dogs” are the most presidential dogs in the country. But even President Obama didn’t want the face licks.
He claimed that since walking the dogs on the side of the lawn, he has seen some of the things they have picked up and chewed on and he does not want the germs.
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Other Reasons You Should Avoid Face Licks
Special Concerns For Kids
It is especially important to try and keep the face licks away from young children. Their immune systems are immature and less equipped to fight off microbes.
The main concern when it comes to kids is intestinal parasites, which can travel from the dog into your child’s mouth to be swallowed and may cause an infection.
Not All Dogs Like Kisses
Most people do not pick up on a dog’s body language that shows fear or aggression. Putting your face into a dog’s face forcing a kiss could result in a bite on your face if you are not careful.
Why Do Some Owners Let Their Dog Lick Their Faces?
While there are plenty of reasons to avoid face licks, there are also a couple of reasons to accept them.
Some Kisses Are Safer Than Others
The bacteria I previously mentioned are received and transmitted through mucous membranes.
If your dog can opt for a kiss on the cheek rather than on the mouth or nose, you will probably be safe from the harmful bacteria.
Love Is All There Is
The mental and emotional benefits of owning a dog come from the bond you feel with each other. The bond is strengthened by playing or physical affection.
This can be through belly rubs, hugs, or pets. But also allowing your dog an occasional kiss will reinforce your connection to him.
Dog Lick My Face: FAQ’s
Here are a few of the most common questions regarding face licks.
#Is Face Licking A Health Risk?
For healthy children and adults, dog saliva should not be too much of a health risk. However, it is not healthy to let your dog lick an open wound on your skin. Their saliva may continue to keep the wound moist and allow bacteria in which can cause infection.
In cases where an immune system is compromised, there is the possibility of the bacteria in your dog’s saliva to cause an infection itself, if the bacteria is high enough in concentration.
#Should You Allow Your Dog To Lick You?
For most healthy people, a dog licking faces or other body parts should pose little risk. If it is a concern, do not let your dog lick your mouth or an open wound.
Instead, offer them a chin kiss and wash up with an antibacterial soap afterward.
#What If You’re Not A Fan Of Face Licks?
If you give your dog attention every time he licks your face, he is more likely to keep repeating the behavior.
If you do not like having your face licked, you can always redirect him to show him attention in a more acceptable manner to you, and be sure not to encourage the licking.
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Which One Fact Helped You The Most?
If one of these facts caught your attention, please keep it in mind next time you are debating on if you want a face lick from a dog. While some licks may seem harmless, others can potentially be dangerous.
Please leave a comment if you have anything you would like to add or if you have any questions.
Feel free to share this with your fellow dog owners so they can also know the pros and cons of these “kisses” too.
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