You share the bed, you kiss on the lips, you go everywhere together....but is that a good thing? How close is too close and are you and your pet crossing the line? We're taking a look at some of the most common pet bonding behaviors and looking at whether it's really ok to be that close with your pet.
Kissing on the lips
Dogs just love giving sloppy, licky kisses on the lips, whether the person likes it or not. Some owners say "bring on the love" while others shirk their pet's affection. So is it ok to let your dog slip you the tongue, and how dangerous is it really? If you've ever heard the old myth that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a person's mouth, then know that it's just that, a MYTH.
In 2011, Japanese researchers actually studied what happens when pets and people swap spit and they found a few things that might make you think twice about Fido's tongue. There are actually a fair number of organisms in there that are "zoonotic" - aka they can pass from species to species. These zoonotic bacteria include E. Coli, Salmonella, and other nasties that can get people sick.
It's not just about the spit either, it's about what's on a dog's nose and muzzle where there can be transmissible parasites or fungus. At the end of the day, a lick on unbroken skin should be pretty safe, but you may want to think twice before frenching Fido.
Sleeping in bed
Pets are the perfect warm snuggle buddies, and some people argue they make the best bedfellows. Many a pet owner has contorted themselves around in bed to accommodate for their sleeping pet - but is this behavior ok? First of all, if you're one of those that let your pet in the bed, know that you aren't unusual. A study has found about half of pet owners let their pets snuggle up.
The first thing to think about is comfort. If your pet is the snoring, farting, or active dreaming type, then you could run into a situation where your pet is actually impairing your sleep. If your pet is waking you, it's time to consider another arrangement.
Allergies and pet hair are another concern. Consider a HEPA filter to keep dander down in the bedroom and be sure to change sheets weekly to keep pet hair out. You may want to consider trainign your pet to sleep on a special towel or blanket on the bed so that it's easier to clean.
While sharing an ice cream cone with your pet may look adorable, it comes with many of the same risks as pet kissing. With every lick, your pet is leaving behind saliva which can be risky especially if your dog engages in coprophagia (a fancy word for eating poop.)
Sharing food also has risks for your pet. Sharing table food can lead to behavioral problems like begging, not to mention weight gain if the pet is snacking too much, or poisoning if they should eat the wrong thing.
Save a little for your pet to patiently wait for and serve it to them on the floor so that they don't learn to jump or take food.
How many of these behaviors do you and your pet engage in? Is there an even weirder way the two of you show love? Dinner and a movie? Romantic walks on the beach?