Dogs are licked from birth when their mothers clean them as newborns. Licking also stimulates their breathing. Some puppies lick their mothers’ mouths – in the wild, this is a survival mechanism: in response, mothers regurgitate food into the puppies’ mouths. Veterinarians say that licking can be a submissive gesture, but when domestic dogs lick people, it’s usually exactly what we think it is: a sign of affection. If you don’t like it, you need to teach your dog not to lick you or your children.
When dogs are in the presence of a tiny human (i.e. your baby), it’s natural for them to be friendly to your little bundle of joy. This includes running after, playing with, and even licking your precious baby.
Of course, dogs love kids and kids love dogs. If you’re a pet owner, you probably treat your dog like a family member, and that’s a good thing. Therefore, when you have a baby, it is only natural that your dog will be curious about the new family member. Like anyone else, the dog will try to approach and pet the baby at every opportunity.
Many pet owners trust their dogs too much and often think their furry friends are “mothering” their children when they lick their faces.
But the question remains, is it safe for dogs to lick your baby’s head, face, eyes or hands?
In the mouth of a dog there are many germs that can easily be transmitted to humans. This is particularly problematic for babies and immunocompromised adults. For both, there is an increased risk of contracting infections and parasites from dogs. Even though it looks cute, a dog licking a baby’s face should not be allowed. I don’t even recommend it for healthy adults. If your dog likes to give “kisses” to the adults in the family, let him lick your hand and wash your hand thoroughly right after.
Dogs may lick a baby’s face for a variety of reasons. He may be trying to play with the baby, or he may be trying to assert his dominance over the child. In either case, this behavior should not be allowed for health and safety reasons. There are many germs in a dog’s mouth that can easily be transmitted to humans.
When a dog licks a baby’s face to assert dominance, it can set off a dangerous dynamic that can lead to the dog biting the baby. It is best not to allow your dog to exhibit dominant behavior toward your children. It is also important to teach children as early as possible how to interact with a dog – e.g., don’t pull on the ears or tail, don’t sit or lay on the animal, etc.
Can babies get sick from dogs licking them?
Here are some things to consider before you allow your dog lick your baby:
- Even if your dog is healthy and clean, his dental hygiene habits are not nearly as good as those of us humans, which include brushing his teeth several times a day, flossing, and rinsing his mouth.
- Dogs use their tongues to clean their body parts, including their bottoms. A dog’s mouth can be a breeding ground for germs, bacteria and parasites.
- Germs from dogs can cause a variety of diseases, from mild skin infections to severe illnesses.
- Some bacteria in a dog’s mouth are zoonotic, meaning the animals can transmit them to humans and cause disease. This is considered a rare occurrence, but it is always better to be cautious and know the signs and symptoms to look for when something like this happens.
- If a dog has roundworms, it can easily transmit them to a baby by licking. The larval form of roundworm does not cause serious problems in adults. However, if a roundworm enters a baby’s body, it can cause serious problems. In severe cases, the larvae can enter the central nervous system, brain, and/or liver, causing abdominal pain, wheezing, coughing, fever, or fatigue. As a dog owner, you need to deworm your pets regularly. Most importantly, do not allow dogs to lick a baby.
- Newborns and infants have weak immune systems compared to older children and adults. Dogs eat waste and therefore carry harmful germs in their mouths. When a dog licks a baby, these harmful organisms enter the baby’s system.
Some people argue that it is better to expose a child to “germs” at an early age so they can build their immune system. This way of thinking is dangerous and can lead to serious health problems. If you want to find out what your dog is eating, licking or chewing on, you should keep his tongue away from your baby.
The good news is that some of the diseases that affect domestic cats cannot be transmitted to humans. Examples of such diseases are distemper, provirus, and heartworms. Nevertheless, there are some diseases that can be transmitted through contact with the animal’s feces, saliva or dander.
What to do if a dog licks the baby?
If your dog licks your baby (anywhere), you should separate dog and baby. It is important to wash the area immediately with mild, hypoallergenic soap and water.
If your baby has an open wound, you should be careful that a dog does not lick the area, as this could cause an infection. If you notice that a new rash develops after a dog has licked your baby, you should ask your doctor for advice.
Here are some ways you can prevent your dog from licking your baby at home:
- Separate dog and baby – If the dog repeatedly tries to lick your baby, you can physically separate the two. This is one way to establish boundaries.
- Reinforce positive behavior with a reward – If your dog stays at a distance and does not lick your baby, you can reward this positive behavior with treats.
- Distract your dog – If your dog won’t stop licking the baby, you can distract him, such as making him/her play fetch or play with toys.
- Never leave your baby unattended with the dog – Even the most well-behaved dogs can snap, and sometimes it only takes a few seconds for them to snap. Be sure to watch your dog interact with your baby and stay close by in case you need to intervene.
- Be consistent – This is the most important thing because consistency encourages behavior. It may be difficult at first to teach your dog not to lick your baby, but dogs are adaptable and sometimes it just takes time.
Last but not least, it’s also important to make sure your dog brushes up on routine vaccinations. You should also check your dog’s flea and tick infestation, as fleas and ticks can also carry diseases that are easily transmitted to children. A healthy pet is important to keep your home healthy and clean.
Did you enjoy this article? Find out if stilettos are comfortable, here