Warning to all dog owners as pets’ licks carry dangerous infections


IT might seem like an act of endearment, but letting your dog lick you could actually be dangerous.

Experts say that allowing them to swipe their tongue across your face risks spreading antibiotic resistance.


Medics have warned that allowing dogs to lick you could cause antibiotic resistanceCredit: Getty

The NHS has previously warned against ‘super bugs‘ that can evade medication.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing issue as bugs evolve to dodge the pills.

Misuse of the drugs is thought to be down to the effectiveness of the medication, but experts have also warned that domestic pets, such as dogs, could also be part of the issue.

Medics at the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Lisbon are set to release a paper later this month detailing the issue.

They looked at stool samples from 114 healthy people, 85 dogs and 18 cats.

After analysis, they found that 15 humans were carrying bacteria of concern and that half of the infected pets had strains that were anti-biotic resistant.

Study lead author Dr Juliana Menezes said this isn’t the first study that linked the issue to pets.

She said that even before Covid-19, resistance was a big threat.

She explained that it can make conditions like pneumonia, sepsis, urinary tract and wound infections untreatable.

“Although the level of sharing from the households we have studied is low, healthy carriers can shed bacteria into their environment for months, and they can be a source of infection for other more vulnerable people and animals such as the elderly and pregnant women.

“These risk factors include kissing, licking the owner’s face or eating from the owner’s plate.

“To reduce the spread of these bacteria within the household, it would be necessary to reduce this close relationship between the owners and their pets, and also to have greater hygiene practices”, she told The Telegraph.

Dr Menezes said the team looked specifically looked at bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.


She explained that this transmission occurs via the faecal-oral route.

Due to this she recommended good hygiene practices on the part of owners – which would help reduce the spread.

This include washing hands after picking up dog waste and also cleaning your hands after stroking your dog.

Pet owners were earlier this month warned that dog bowls could be harbouring deadly bugs that could harm you and your family.

A study found only 12 per cent of dog owners said they wash their dog’s bowl every day, with 18 per cent saying they did it every three months or not at all.

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The FDA said not cleaning it often enough “poses significant health risks to pets and pet owner”.

It runs the risk of allowing bacteria like salmonella and listeria – which can make people very unwell – to grow.

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