Our pets are adorable, it’s true, and as humans, we show affection with hugs and kisses, but is it really safe to kiss your pets? As we know from our own needs to brush, mouths (for pets and for people) can be germy places. Does kissing your pet possibly put you and your pet at risk, or is it a safe and highly recommended thing to do? How do you kiss your pet?
Health Benefits of Kissing & Cuddling Your Pet
Before delving into the finer details, the short answer is yes, you should kiss your pet. Our pets both give and receive love and affection just as we do. Thus, hugs and kisses…physical displays of affection have the benefit of improving your mood and overall wellbeing in much the same ways giving and receiving love and affection from fellow humans does.
Specifically, kissing and cuddling your pet can:
- Raise your “feel good” brain chemicals like oxytocin
- Boost neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and thus lower depression and anxiety
- Reduce stress, which in turn lowers your heart rate and your blood pressure
Kissing your pet and hugging your pet can also help you stay in tune with your pet’s overall health. You can detect bad breath, lumps, lacerations, etc. or notice anxiety or peculiar behavior when you get up close and personal with your pet.
Why It’s Okay to Kiss Your Pet
So, earlier we said the short answer to kissing your pet is yes, you should kiss your pet. The reason for this is that despite the plethora of oral bacteria inside of both your and your pet’s mouth, the majority of these bacteria aren’t dangerous.
Mind, it is a myth that your cat or dog’s mouth bacteria is “cleaner” than your own…they have unhealthy bacteria in their mouths just like we do, which is why it’s usually perfectly safe to kiss your pet if you have no cuts or open sores in or around your mouth and if your pet has good oral hygiene.
Why Oral Health Matters When It Comes to Kissing
Good oral health for you and your pet matter for exchanging kisses because bad oral health is where issues potentially lie. While dog and human oral bacteria is largely not sharable (except in cases involving salmonella if your dog or cat eats a raw food diet), you don’t want to transmit anything to your pet, nor do you want anything transmitted to you.
The good news is, as you’ve probably seen from many pet challenges posted online lately, that pets love being kissed. Their joy in that kind of affection is obvious, and as we noted, the health benefits to you are many.
But, unless your pet has a clean mouth, you potentially lose the emotional and mental health benefits of smooching your pooch (or kitty). (After all, limited bacterial transfer potential aside, pets do lick and eat things that you probably don’t want near your own mouth.)
How to Clean Your Pet’s Mouth for Kissing
Pet oral health is important regardless of whether or not you’re puckering up with your pets. Clean pet mouths happen through regular oral health care. You should regularly:
- Give your pet a daily dental chew, such as a WHIMZEES® by Wellness®, to help them keep their teeth and gums clear of plaque and tartar build up, all of which can lead to poor oral and overall health (and early sign of issues is bad breath)
- Brush your pet’s teeth using a pet-safe toothbrush and a pet toothpaste
- Check their teeth and gums for missing teeth, white or bleeding gums, bad breath (as noted), loose teeth, or broken teeth
Thus not only does cleaning your pet’s mouth make them more kissable, but cleaning your pet’s mouth also enables you to stay on top of their oral health and to prevent issues before they arise.
How to Kiss Your Pet (or Smooch Your Pooch)
So, now, let’s talk about how you actually do kiss your pooch. There’s no right or wrong way overall. All you have to do is kiss your pet to let them know that they’re loved. A big TikTok trend last year that we never get tired of is “kiss your pet on the head and watch their reaction”.
Pet parents filmed their sweet, happy pet reactions to an unexpected snog on the nog. So, how do you kiss your pet?
While our pets kiss us by licking us, we don’t recommend returning the affection in-kind. Instead, pucker up and kiss your cat or dog on the head. You can also smooch your pooch (or kitty) on the nose. It’s okay, too, to readily accept those little sandpaper-tongue kisses from your pet right on the lips since now you know that (1) pet and human bacteria are largely un-spreadable and (2) there are a ton of happy health benefits to kissing your pet.
When you kiss your pet, the only thing you’re spreading is love! Love is what drives us at Old Mother Hubbard by Wellness, a long-standing company known for making yummy pet treats, and it’s what drives us to want you to smooch your pooch (or kitty!).