5 Gross Facts You Should Know Before Letting A Dog Lick Your Face

You might love your dog, and want to show your best bud all the affection in the world, but is it bad for your dog to lick your face? It turns out that your dog's kisses aren't the best for you after all. There are a few gross things that can happen when your dog licks you that can affect your health and hygiene. You have to remember: dogs are animals who don't know about basic self-care, so they're prone to some not-so-cleanly habits.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on keeping up with personal hygiene, like showering regularly, washing hands in germ-filled places, and brushing their teeth. However, we don't usually discuss hygienic mistakes when it comes to bonding time with your best friend at home. As excited as you may be to see your pooch after a long day, it's not the best idea to let your dog get slobbery all over your face. In fact, you could be exposed to a slew of germs, bacteria, and other diseases by letting your dog gives you a few friendly kisses. The solution? Move your face away and let your dog embrace you in other ways. You'll still feel the love. Here are five yucky things that can happen when that tongue gets too close.

1There Are Parasites

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"A dog’s mouth is not any cleaner than a human’s mouth and in many cases may be more dirty and harmful due to the parasites that inhabit it," Certified Dog/Cat Behaviorist and Trainer, Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA, tells Bustle. There is an enormous microbiome of yeast, bacteria, and parasites, which may also serve as a breeding ground for viruses, Hartstein says.

2You Might Get An Upset Stomach

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"In general, a dog’s mouth is home to a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, some of which can be transmitted and make you very sick," Dr. Robert Glatter, MD, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Northwell Health and attending emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, tells Bustle. "Known as zoonotic bacteria, these include salmonella, campylobacter, and E.coli, which can lead to gastrointestinal illness manifesting as fever, vomiting, and diarrhea." Glatter explains that if a dog possessing any of these potential bacterias licks your face, they may enter into your system through the mucous membranes of your eyes, nose, or mouth, and who would take care of your best friend if you're sick?

3You Might Get Poop On Your Face

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As smart as your little guy may be, dogs have some pretty strange habits. The grossest? Occasionally dogs eat their own poop, the poop of other dogs (perhaps you own a few pets at home), or other trash, says Glatter. What's more, they might even lick the anus' of other animals, if in their presence, Glatter says. And I don't think you'd want that on your face.

4The Potential For Germs Is Endless

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Just think about what your dog's sniffing and licking in the day. Dogs raid garbage cans and get into all types of dirty corners and crevices. Want that on your face, now? What's more, you can get a host of infections this way. In rare cases, a dog's saliva has contributed to humans catching a nasty bacteria called Capnocytophaga canimorsus. According to a 2006 study, the bacteria, which is found in the saliva of healthy dogs and cats, did contribute to some humans contracting meningitis, endocarditis, and occasionally sepsis. But don't freak out just yet! These illnesses were only reported in a very small group of people with pre-existing immunodeficiencies and associated mostly with dog bites.  

5You Can Get Hookworms

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"Since dogs hover over and are known to eat their own or other animals stool, it’s also possible to transmit hookworms or roundworms if they were to lick your mouth or face," says Glatter. It’s totally possible for these buggers to enter through your nose, eyes, or mouth, Glatter explains.

No matter how much you love your dog, you'll want to still maintain some boundaries, for the sake of your health. These viruses or gastrointestinal problems can be uncomfortable and a burden to treat, so it's best to avoid contraction and keep those doggy kisses to a minimum.