Some people like to send me links to internet sites to see if they can get a rise out of me. There are a few usual suspects (both senders of information and places I get sent to) but a new one for me was tlcpetfood.com
For some reason, this site has a series of FAQ’s completely unrelated to pet food. Some are rather bizarre, such as "My dog keeps getting pneumonia, and we just found out her internal organs are on the wrong side. Help? "
Many of the answers are fine. That’s because they’re plagiarized… verbatim text taken from reputable sites (mainly AAHA’s Healthy Pet site) without attribution. Besides the whole violation of intellectual property aspect, it’s at least good that the advice is sound.
Some of the other answers they provide (likely the ones that aren’t plagiarized) are considerably less sound.
The one that got sent to me was "Is it okay for my dog to lick my son’s face?"
This is actually a common question and a reasonable one. There’s no perfect answer to it, but there are definitely some imperfect answers, such as this one:
(It starts out okay...)
Yes, it probably is.
- I’d agree with that statement.
(Then goes downhill quickly…)
The only disease that dogs and humans can pass back and forth through saliva is beta strep throat, which is relatively rare.
- This is a myth that just won’t go away. There’s no evidence that pets are relevant sources of strep throat. Furthermore, there are many other pathogens that can be transmitted from dogs’ saliva to people. Disease isn’t common but it does occur and it can be fatal in some situations.
And if your son has a weakened immune system, you may want to be careful about exposing him to the normal bacteria that’s present in the saliva of healthy dogs.
- Good advice. (However, if their statement that strep is the only thing that can come from dogs was actually true, this one wouldn’t make any sense.)
My response to this common question is that I don’t particularly like being licked by my dog. It’s a personal thing and not a germaphobic response. It’s unlikely to harm me as an adult with a (hopefully) functional immune system. I don’t hover around my kid to make sure they don’t get licked, but I don’t encourage it either.
Licks to young kids (especially around the face), licks that have contact with skin lesions or mucous membranes (e.g. mouth, nose) or licks to people with compromised immune systems (including people that do not have a functioning spleen) are higher risk. Strep throat isn’t a concern, but many other things are. There’s a cost-benefit. If it’s an important part of someone’s bond with his/her animal, that’s fine. Individuals just need to understand the risks, and be aware of when the risks are higher. Part of that is getting good advice, which can be a challenge on the internet.