Do you let your dog lick you all over your face? I admit it; I do. But I probably shouldn’t, because there’s new evidence that humans can catch gum disease from dogs. Ew.
It’s more probable that you’ll contract bacteria if you actually kiss your dog on his or her mouth (or let him or her lick your mouth), but researchers did find a mouth microbe that is specific to dogs in the mouths of up to 16% of dog owners. Apparently most dog suffer from periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the mouth tissue. And when they lick you, there’s a chance that the harmful bacteria can be transferred to you.
Bacteria-sharing apparently goes both ways, though, as the Japanese researchers also found human periodontitis- related bacteria in the mouths of some pets. So gross and so weird! This information, while totally believable, definitely makes me wonder how close some people’s relationships with their dogs are.
Dr. Paul Maza of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell, says that the risk of sharing bacteria is very closely linked to both your own oral health and that of your pet:
“Many of the different types of bacteria in dogs and cats are the same type of bacteria as in humans. If owners practice oral hygiene on their pets, such as brushing their teeth, a pet’s mouth can actually be even cleaner than a human mouth.”
Hear that? Brush your teeth, brush your dog’s teeth, and cut down on interspecies saliva-swapping and you should be in the clear.