Kissing is a way of expressing love and affection. Dogs are very lovable creatures, so the urge to kiss your dog is completely natural. But is it risky?
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Do Dogs Like Kisses?
Kissing is not a natural behavior for dogs. Licking might be similar to the act of kissing, but we cannot be sure.
Research shows that dogs are capable of interpreting human emotions. So, although kissing is not a natural dog behavior, many dogs can interpret kissing as an act of affection.
If you see things from the dog’s point of view, you will understand why.
Owners kiss their dogs when they are in a happy and positive mood. They may also decide to give their dog a treat at the same time. Dogs tend to associate kisses with a happy, attentive owner.
Can Dogs React Badly to Being Kissed?
Some dogs do not appreciate kisses, especially on the mouth. If your dog flinches or runs away, this is a sign they do not want to be kissed.
If your dog melts down the ground and bows their head when you try to kiss them, this suggests they may feel intimidated.
Some research suggests that kissing a dog on their head could cause the dog to feel anxious. If your dog sinks into the ground and lowers their head when you kiss them, this suggests they may be feeling intimidated.
Some dogs may also become aggressive if you come too close to their face. Little children should not be allowed to kiss a dog because a dog’s behavior can quickly change if the child becomes too boisterous.
You are best placed to interpret your dog’s behavior and decide whether or not they enjoy being kissed. It goes without saying that you should never try to kiss another person’s dog as you won’t know anything about the dog’s temperament.
Why Is Kissing Your Dog Addictive?
The act of kissing releases endorphins in your brain, and these endorphins help you to feel good. These chemicals also help you to bond with the person or animal you are kissing. Because you are rewarded with this hit of endorphins, the act of kissing becomes addictive.
Since you feel love and affection towards your dog, it’s no surprise you want some dog kisses. If you kiss your dog once, the rush of endorphins will no doubt reinforce this behavior and make you want to kiss your dog again.
Can You Get Sick If You Kiss your Dog On Its Fur?
Vets advise against kissing your dog on the mouth because its saliva might contain bacteria that could make you sick.
Kissing your dog on its head (or anywhere else on its fur) is much safer, and carries very low risk. However, it’s still possible that the fur could be carrying bacteria.
If your dog is domesticated, up to date with their vaccinations, and fit and healthy, the risk of infection is low. If you are a fit and healthy adult, this minimizes the risk even further.
According to the CDC, the following factors increase the likelihood of becoming sick from a dog:
- Child under 5 (due to an underdeveloped immune system)
- Chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- People who drink alcohol to excess
- Any other immunosuppressive disease
- People without a spleen
Anyone who falls into the above category should not kiss a dog. They should also wash their hands thoroughly after touching an animal.
In some cases, it may not be possible for someone with a weak immune system to keep a dog because the risk of infection is considered too high.
Other Ways to Show your Dog Affection
You want to show your dog how much you love them. So, what’s the best way to do this? Dogs have unique personalities and tend to enjoy different types of affection. Having said that, most dogs will enjoy the following three things.
Regular Walks and Play Time
To promote good health, dogs must be walked twice a day. Some breeds benefit from very long walks or even runs. If you meet this basic need, this shows you love and care for your dog.
When walking your pooch, try to incorporate some play sessions; most dogs love chasing a ball or a stick. Also, vary the location of their walks or consider taking them to the local dog park.
Many dogs enjoy swimming. This does expose them to more bacteria, so it’s a good idea to bath them (with dog-friendly soap) if they’ve been swimming in open water.
When we gaze at an animal (or human) we love, we get a rush of oxytocin to the brain. This chemical makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside. Research shows that dogs have a similar release of oxytocin when looking into their owner’s eyes.
Wolves (dogs’ ancestors) don’t release oxytocin when looking at humans. This suggests eye-gazing is a behavior dogs have developed since becoming domesticated.
Over centuries, humans have spent time gazing into dogs’ eyes (and vice versa). The mutual release of oxytocin in both species’ brains has enabled dogs and humans to bond.
So, “puppy dog eyes” are an adaptation that enables dogs to live comfortably alongside humans!
What does this mean for you and your dog? Well, gazing into your pooch’s eyes will help both of you feel good. It may also strengthen your bond.
Belly, Leg, and Ear Scratches
Many dogs appreciate being rubbed on their tummy or scratched on the tops of their legs.
Puppies play fight with their brothers and sisters, so rolling around on the ground and having their belly rubbed may remind them of being a puppy.
Also, dogs often become itchy behind the ears, so they’ll enjoy having their ears scratched. Washing your hands after handling your dog will prevent the spread of infection.