Many love their dogs almost as if they were children . Even more than other people. To the point of talking to them as if they were babies or letting them sleep in their beds. Some are even willing to receive kisses in the form of licks on the face or share food with them.
Precisely such a scene has gone viral on social networks : a woman shares her ice cream with a dachshund and then continues to eat it. Is it a healthy practice or not? The debate is served on the Internet. There are those who assure that they share their food and let their canine companions lick it because it is a gesture of affection . Others, on the contrary, consider that it should not be healthy for a dog, that smells the urine and excrement of other animals – among other filth found in the street -, share our food or kiss us on the face. But who is right? This is what the experts think.
Licks in the mouth, eyes, nose and wounds should be avoided.
Despite having studies, such as one published in the prestigious journal Nature , that ensure that having a pet from childhood could help us reduce the risk of allergies or diseases such as asthma , experts advise against contact of the animal’s mouth with our face and our food. “You have to be careful with the licks,” says Manuel Sánchez Angulo, professor of Microbiology at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche and member of the Spanish Society for Microbiology (SEM) because ” the dog’s snout takes everything that is out there ” .
The professor of microbiology at the University of Navarra and author of Microbiota: the microbes of your body , Ignacio López-Goñi , remembers that, despite being a gesture of affection, the animal usually licks faeces and other dogs, and leaves sucking on our faces or food ” can transmit pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that can cause disease”. In fact, explains Federico Vilaplana Valverde, clinical veterinarian, president of the Official College of Veterinarians of Cádiz and member of the General Council of Veterinary Colleges , “bacterial infections such as E. Coli , Camplylobacter can transmit us through a lickor Salmonella ”
This does not mean that it is bad for adults or children to play with dogs, simply, López-Goñi continues, it is necessary to maintain hygiene standards: ” That licks never touch the mouth, eyes, nose or a wound .” However, he adds, “if both the owner and the dog are healthy, there is usually nothing to fear.”
It is important to correct the gesture in time
Vilaplana Valverde clarifies this gesture, which helps dogs to recognize our state of mind, comes from their ancestors: “It represents a sign of submission and affection , given that the dog is a social animal that is part of a clan (in this case, the family environment) and needs to show homage to the rest of the members of the group to which he belongs frequently. ” But they are also able to show these feelings through their body language and sounds and “it is the owner’s responsibility to correct this instinct because it poses a health risk.”
The veterinarian also remembers that it is essential for the health of the family unit to have up-to-date animal vaccines – rabies, leptospirosis with its different serotypes, parvovirosis, distemper or hepatitis. In addition to maintaining hygiene, carry out regular deworming, keep it away from the faeces of other animals , and wash your hands with soap and water regularly after playing with it.
It is also not healthy for the animal
Feeding the animal with our food is not good for him either, clarifies the vet: ” Their digestive system is different from ours and we can cause serious health problems .” “The feed is the most appropriate to control the calories you eat, depending on your age, race or the exercise you do and thus avoid problems such as obesity,” he adds and recommends that before introducing any type of change in the diet of your can, consult a specialist.