Is It OK To Kiss My Dog’s Nose?

Dear Doggy,

I love kissing my dog but my boyfriend thinks it’s unsanitary (and maybe a little gross). Just to settle the score, please tell me. Is it OK to kiss my dog’s nose?

Puppy Smooches

Dear Puppy Smooches,

In general, kissing your dog on the nose is as dangerous as kissing him on the mouth. If the dog has an infection, it can distribute the disease to the other parts of its body by scratching and licking. A dog’s snout could also be exposed to unhygienic matters because of his constant sniffing. Kissing or being licked by your dog can transmit sickness-causing bacteria.

To many pet owners, their dogs are like their little children. As with babies, you like to hug, kiss, and cuddle with them all the time. But there are good reasons you should hold back on the kisses, even on the nose.

  1. Your dog could have sniffed something unsanitary. Dogs like sniffing things wherever they go. They do not discriminate whether it is clean or dirty. So your dog’s nose could have been in contact with garbage, bodily wastes from animals or humans, dead animals, and their butts.
  2. Your dog could have an infection. Dogs are prone to dental, ear, and skin infections. Even though the infection is not in their nose, they can still spread it to other body parts as they habitually lick and scratch themselves. 
  3. Your dog can transmit illness-causing bacteria. Harmful bacteria such as PasteurellaBartonella henselae, salmonella, E. coli, clostridia, and campylobacter can be transferred from dogs to people. These pathogens can cause intestinal problems or infection. 
  4. Your immunity might be compromised. People who are immunodeficient because of HIV or AIDS, organ transplant, or going through chemotherapy should avoid kissing their dogs entirely because they are more susceptible to contract diseases. This also applies to small children and the elderly.

Do Dogs Like Being Kissed On The Nose?

Humans naturally express affection through kisses and many do so with their dogs. But do dogs like them as much as you do?

Overall, dogs do not enjoy being kissed on the nose or anywhere in the face, but interpret it as a threat. They will display their dislike by outward behaviors such as body tensing up, licking their lips, lowering their ears, and moving away when being kissed. Some dogs learn to tolerate and even appreciate kisses from their owners if they have been trained to accept smooches as a puppy. 

Dogs do not show and accept affection the same way humans do. If we like hugging, kissing, and cuddling, they would prefer being stroked, scratched behind the ears, or sitting on our laps.

Moving your face so close to theirs can mean a sign of attack on a dog. If combined with a hug, where you put your arms tightly around their shoulders, a dog may feel assaulted and try to bite.

Yet, you might hear pet owners claiming that their canines like being kissed and even ask for it. These dogs may have been trained to receive smooches as a sign of love if combined with a warm tone of voice and happy expression.

Since dogs can react differently to kisses, how do you know if a pup likes to be kissed? The main thing is to observe their reactions.

Likes kisses: 

  • Jumps up happily
  • Moves closer to you after being kissed
  • Looks relaxed and sighs a lot
  • Tail high or wagging

Don’t like kisses:

  • The body stiffens if kissed
  • Turns their head away
  • Licks their lips
  • Ears drop

In no way should you let a stranger try to kiss your dog because it will not be welcomed. Even with people dogs are familiar with, dogs can react negatively to kisses if they are eating, sleeping, or caught off guard.

Do Dogs Understand Kisses And Hugs?

We love our dogs like our own family! But do you ever wonder if your dogs understand you love them when you shower them with hugs and kisses? 

Dogs do not innately understand human’s language of affection such as hugs and kisses. They express fondness instead through licking and respond to your tone of voice and body movements. But over time, canines learn to make the connection of love and hugs or kisses by training them while young.

Hugs and kisses are foreign to a puppy, so do not be surprised when they initially show no reaction to your acts of love. Even an older dog who has just been adopted or rescued will find it strange that you want to put your face so close to them or pull them into a hug.

Most dogs will consider hugs and kisses as a sign of aggression. It is seldom that canines would approach a fellow dog face to face unless it is looking for a fight. If you go near an unfamiliar dog for a peck and embrace, they might think you are trying to dominate them and attack you. 

What they understand as a sign of love is through licking, like their mothers did to them when they were born. They are also more comfortable being gently stroked or just sitting close to you.

Even though it is not natural for dogs to like smooches and embraces, they can be trained to accept it as positive actions and eventually appreciate it. The key is to start very early in the relationship.

Dogs can identify your current mood and intention through your tone of voice and bodily gestures. So when introducing hugs and kisses, do so with a kind and sweet voice and reassuring facial expression. Some owners also use treats to condition their dogs that receiving hugs and kisses well is good behavior.

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