As a dog lover, I know you are eager to know if there’s anything wrong in having your dog licking your face and If yes, what are the health implications.
Now, every dog owner with a mutual relationship with his or her dog has at one point or the other been lick in the face or any other part of the body; by a dog.
First, every pet owner MUST ensure their dog or is PROPERLY VACCINATED! That’s the first and most important thing. Other issues are secondary.
Rabies can be transmitted through the saliva (bite, kiss, lick, whichever) of an infected dog. So, let’s assume your dog is vaccinated and is a normal household dog. A dog’s mouth harbours several bacteria (human mouths do too). However, the fear of getting licked in the face by a dog is more of an aesthetic thing rather than medical.
Truth is that, whenever you have your dog licking your face, what runs through your head/mind at that point in time is;
-Where and where has this dog gone to put his mouth today?
-What if he ate poo or faeces?
That’s usually the concern. A lick on the face might not be an issue as much as a lick in the nose or mouth or on an open wound. What if the dog came in contact with faeces of a person or dog sick with Typhoid (Salmonellosis)? Even though bacteria can hardly enter your body through your normal, healthy skin, it can enter through contact with mucous membranes (inside your mouth, inside your nose, or open wounds on the skin).
Generally, for a normal adult human, with a well functioning immune system, the risk of getting any serious infection from a domestic dog’s lick isn’t that high.
For kids however, whose immune system might not be strong enough, the risk of an infection might be higher. But it must be noted that there is limited documented cases of people who actually became sick just because their PET DOG licked their faces. But if a stray dog from Ikpa Market or at Ikot Ekpene licks your face, please start running to a hospital for Post-exposure rabies vaccination.
Another point to note here is not exactly about your dog licking your face. We MUST also always ensure our dogs don’t have ticks and fleas. Fleas are an intermediate host to Dipylidium caninum, a dog tapeworm which can infect kids. If your kid while playing with the dog, mistakenly swallow an infected tick, the tapeworm will definitely enter his/her stomach.
So, in summary, there’s nothing wrong with your dog licking your face. Just be sure it’s well vaccinated and free from external parasites such as ticks and flea.