18 Feb Smooches with your pet – yes or no?
February is the month of love, and who better to shower with affection than your furry friend? While many people love to kiss and cuddle their pets, there are mixed messages about whether it’s absolutely fine, or a complete no-no.
So is it ok to give your pet kisses and cuddles? The answer is – it depends! Let’s look at why you might (or might not) choose to kiss and cuddle your much-loved pet.
Are dog’s mouths actually cleaner than ours? It’s a commonly recited fact, but in reality – it’s mostly a myth. The mouths of dogs and cats have a comparable level of bacteria, with some similar to humans and others quite different. If you think about the things that animals like to put in their mouths, it’s not hard to see that kiss on the lips in a different light.
That being said, while there’s a chance of picking up a bug from your pet, it’s unlikely. And even if you do, it’s unlikely to be severe. Gastrointestinal illnesses are the most common bugs to be picked up from animals, which are unpleasant but unlikely to be of real concern in most people.
If you practice good hygiene in your house and are reasonably healthy, your pets are likely to be similarly healthy. So are pet kisses hygienic? Not really. But they’re also not likely to be dangerous. So in that sense, it’s really up to you.
However, while many pets learn to see kisses and cuddles in a positive light, they don’t really understand them in the same way that we do. While there is some precedent with baby animals licking their mothers, submissive pups licking the pack leader, and some endorphin release associated with licking – animals in nature don’t really “kiss”.
Your pet is likely to quickly associate kisses with fun, treats, and quality time with you – but if they are showing signs of avoiding them or being uncomfortable, it’s time to give them some space. We’d all relate to being uncomfortable with unwanted physical contact, so we should give our pets the same courtesy so they feel safe and well – and find another way to show just how much we love them.
While animals in nature might not “kiss”, they definitely have many ways to show affection. Grooming, pats, playtime, and quiet cuddles reflect how animals communicate love and respect. Again, you’ll have to read their signals to find out what your pet likes best.
If your pet likes being groomed, brush mitts are a great way to keep their coat and skin healthy while promoting bonding between you. Some pets prefer a bit of rough and tumble over quiet cuddles – it’s your pet’s way of spending time with you, so take it as the sign of affection that it is.
Displays of affection are learned behaviours. So if you prefer hugs and kisses, you might be able to teach your pet to associate them with positive feelings. You’ll need to make sure your pet is comfortable – some pets will never learn to like lots of physical affection, and you’ll have to find other ways to bond.
Are pet kisses hygienic? Not really. But if you just can’t resist, and your pet is up for it, then a bit of a smooch probably won’t do any harm.