Should I Let My Dog Kiss Me On the Mouth?

I have seen a lot of articles about the horrors of letting your dog kiss you on the mouth.

I could cross the road and get hit by a bus too. Does that mean I shouldn’t do it?

Heck, No. I need to get places.

Well, I appreciate the love and regularly let my dog kiss me.

UPDATED: December 31, 2022

I let my dog kiss me on the mouth. Is that bad?

So, I was curious – Is letting your dog kiss you on the lips really that bad?

Why Dogs Kiss

There are several reasons why your dog may lick, or kiss, you.

Below are the 3 most common reasons.


Dogs have a number of ways of showing affection, including licking.

Dogs may lick their owners, other dogs, or other animals as a way of showing affection, submission, or respect.

Dogs, when they want to show affection, will often lick what is in front of them.

If you are holding them, this is most likely your face and their tongue may intentionally or unintentionally land on your mouth.

You Taste Good

If you’ve just eaten food, or you put on flavored lip gloss, your dog may lick you because you taste good.

Because they’re stressed

The stress could be yours (that your dog picks up on), your dog’s, or both.

By licking you, your dog may be trying to relieve your stress because they know it can calm you.

The act of licking is also soothing for a dog.

If the dog licks you out of stress or anxiety, and not for love, you will see other calming signs such as lifted ears, head tilts and anxious movements.

What Are the Risks of Letting Your Dog Lick Your Lips?

Letting your dog kiss you on the lips does come with risks, although, in my experience, they aren’t very common.

Below are the most common.

Chapped lips

With excessive licking, your lips could become chapped or feel scraped due to a dog’s rough tongue.

The act of licking is also soothing for a dog.


Dogs’ mouths and teeth are designed for chewing and biting, and even a gentle lick or kiss from a dog can cause minor cuts or abrasions on the skin.

This is especially true the skin on your lips is thin or sensitive.

Also, some dogs may become possessive or overly excited when they are being kissed or licked, and may accidentally bite or nip while trying to lick or kiss you.

This can be especially true if the dog is young, energetic, or has not been properly trained or socialized.

You and your dog could make each other sick

This is usually the biggest argument people make against letting a dog lick them on the face or mouth.

But how easily can illnesses or diseases be transferred between pets and people and which ones?

It is possible for a person to pass certain illnesses or diseases that can transfer between animals and humans are called zoonotic diseases or zoonoses.

Examples of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted from dogs to humans include:


This is probably the one with the highest risk of being transferred between dogs and people but is still relatively rare, or at least symptoms are rare.

Salmonella is a type of bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps in humans.

Dogs can be infected with salmonella through contact with contaminated food or water, and they can then transmit the infection to humans through contact with their feces.

Of course you are not kissing your dog where the poop actually comes out if you know what I mean but it is possible a dog could lick their butt, kiss you, and transfer salmonella bacteria.


Two types of parasites can be passed on through facial licking – Giardia and Cryptosporidia.

Both people and dogs can be affected by symptoms of these parasites, while some pets and people show no symptoms or being infected at all.


The rabies virus is transmitted through direct contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with saliva or brain/nervous system tissue from an infected animal.

If you or your dog had rabies, and kissed each other on the mouth, and the one without rabiels can a cut or scrape where licked, rabies could be transferred.

But the chance is extremely high that you would know if either you or your dog had rabies so, to me, this one is all but impossible to be transferred to you from your dog.


The plaque is generally spread from infected fleas to rodents.

Since wild carnivores can become infected by eating animals infected with the plague, it seems possible that it would be the same for a domestic carnivore like your dog.

Your dog could also get infected with the plague if they are bit by fleas with it.

It’s also possible that you could become infected by the plague if you handled a dead animal with it (like hunters), or were bit by infected fleas, and transfer it to your dog.

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Both of these scenarios are very unlikely to happen but the potential is there.

I did find a 2011 article discussing two people in the same household in Oregon who contracted the plague.

An investigation into how they might have contracted the disease revealed that they sometimes shared their bed with the dog who showed signs of previously being infected with the plaque.

Authorities determined that the people caught the plague from the dog’s fleas… not from being kissed on the mouth.


Your dog can contract leptospirosis through direct contact with another infected animal or, most commonly, through contact with anything that has been contaminated by the urine of an infected animal.

You can then get it through contact with your dog’s urine, whether directly or via contaminated dirt, or bodily fluids except saliva (source).

So, while your dog can give you leptospirosis, it’s extremely unlikely that kissing you on the mouth will do it.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA)

MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that’s become resistant to many of the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections.

If an animal has an active MRSA infection, it can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with the infected area or with contaminated items, such as bedding, food or water bowls or a toy with saliva on it.

If someone in the house has MRSA, it can be transmitted to a pet through kissing, licking, bathing, or other direct contact with infected sites such as wounds. (source)

MRSA may be common and harmless in healthy people and their pets but people with a compromised immune system, such as the very young, the elderly, and people undergoing treatments like chemotherapy or antibiotic therapy, can experience complications.

COVID 19 Virus

According to the CDC,

“The virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals during close contact.

Pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.

The risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low.”

In addition, the CDC adds, while “pets can get serious illness from infection with the virus that causes COVID-19… [it’s] extremely rare.”

What your dog can’t give you if they kiss you on the mouth

There are some illnesses or diseases that are technically zoonotic and can transfer between people and animals but have no records of being transferred between dogs and humans.

Then there are some you may be curious about that just aren’t possible to pass from humans to dogs, for various reasons.

Examples include:

Influenza A

While influenza B viruses circulates only among humans, influenza A viruses, or animal flu, are found in many different animals, including dogs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),

“Canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by specific Type A influenza viruses known to infect dogs….

No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported.”

A cold

While both dogs and humans can catch a cold, the viruses are completely different in humans and dogs.

People never spread this viral infection to canines (source).

How to Minimize The Risks Of Your Dog Kissing You

The two biggest risks of letting your dog kiss, or lick, you on the lips is injury or transferring illness between you.

Here are some things you can do to minimize those risks.

  • Make sure your dog likes being kissed to minimize the potential for nipping and biting
  • Be mindful of your dog’s behavior and to supervise your dog’s interactions with you and others
  • Keep your dog up to date on their vaccinations
  • Make sure you know what it’s been licking recently
  • Wash your face after your dog kisses you on the lips (before licking your lips with your own tongue)
  • Avoid letting your dog kiss anyone on the mouth who has a compromised immune system like the very old or very young, diabetics, and people undergoing caner treatment.

Final Thoughts

While there have been some documented cases of dogs and people spreading disease, illness, and bacteria to each other when they kiss each other on the mouth, it’s not common.

Most cases I found involved a dog sleeping in the bed, or dog fleas biting the owners, but I did see a couple that referenced licking, which I assume could include licking on the lips.

If you are concerned that your dog is sick, and therefore might make you sick if they kiss you, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian or a medical doctor.

Do remember thought that there are benefits to letting your dog kiss you on the mouth and there is a good chance those outweigh the risks.

Benefits include bonding and reducing stress and anxiety for both you and your dog.

And the old wives tail that a dog’s saliva has healing elements in it has been scientifically proven to be true.

Pet saliva contains histratins, and antimicrobal peptides, a compound proven to help prevent infection.

However, although the types vary, researchers have found that a dog’s mouth contains almost as many different bacteria strains as humans so dog’s mouths are not cleaner than ours.

I have seen a lot of articles about the horrors of letting your dog kiss you on the mouth. Well, I appreciate the love and regularly let my dog kiss me on the lips. So I did my own research to see if it's really that bad.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. I get and give minimal kisses from Izzy, Fritz,Franny, Mokie, Mercedes and Phoebe and her (current)puppies. One dog’s kisses are ok…when you allow 6 of them to slobber on you whenever they feel like it you start to lose your mind.

    That said, the only thing I catch kissing them is Hell from the old man for not kissing HIM enough LOL!

  2. Layla doesn’t sleep with me; she has slept in a crate since I brought her home, however I frequently get Layla kisses 🙂 Sometimes someone will say to me, do you know where that tongue has been? But I honestly don’t care. Those kisses lower my blood pressure, take away my stress and make me happy. I would say kisses from Layla have a greater chance of helping me live longer than giving me the plague 😉 And she seems so happy when she is kissing my face, how could I say no to that!

    *feel better! I too am currently fighting the early stages of a cold*

    1. Yeah, I apply the 5 second rule here and multiply about 10. Yes, I have seen what my dog eats (and I don’t mean the food that I feed them). Yes, they give me kisses and it makes me emotionally feel better. If I see the former I wait about an hour for the latter then I feel “safe”. Ha, ha.

  3. I sleep with 5 weiners and most of them are lickers but not necessarily on the mouth. Oh yeah they would like too but I don’t allow it. I am not worried on either account.

    1. In one of the articles I read, one of the men that got sick said his dog liked to lick him on the leg…so it doesn’t always have to be on the mouth. I am pretty sure the skin has to be compromised in some way though – like a cut or scratch. When I was young my Mom told me to have a cat lick your wound and it will heal quicker. I never got sick from that, although I am not sure it helped 🙂 But growing up where it was natural to do that I don’t worry either. There are plenty of other things out there with a higher chance of making you sick or killing you.

  4. I never thought about it until now. Thanks!! LOL. Roxy has been giving me kisses, and sleeping part time in my bed for years, and I haven’t got sick yet. Maybe I’m immune now or something.

    1. I have been sleeping with animals most of my life on this earth. I had a cat growing up that slept on my face! The only incident I have ever had is a scratch on my eyeball from my cat when I was a kid. That happened when I was picking it up though. Maybe we do build up a tolerance. I must be super good my now 🙂

  5. Eleanor always sleeps with us, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She does more of a nose to mouth kiss, occasionally she slips me the tongue. She does have a licking problem, but it’s usually my belt, or pants, or feet. One time my vet said cats can catch a human cold……Good luck with the cold, I hope you get better soon!

    1. Thanks. It hit really hard today so I expect to have to ride this stage out for a couple of days. I just hope that it doesn’t linger for weeks 🙁

  6. Worry about *them* getting sick? Seriously? Knowing that Arnold occasionally raids the litter box for a “Kitty Roca” treat the last thing I’m going to worry about is making *him* sick,

    1. Well, lately there have been a lot of articles on the internet about not sleeping with or kissing your dog because THEY could make you sick. The articles I have seen just say don’t do it though without telling you what kind of sicknesses you could get. It felt more like a scare tactic to me. I thought I would look a little deeper and cover the subject a bit differently – from the dog’s perspective 🙂

  7. I don’t have an option, GG will kiss me whether I want kisses or not! I’ll be sleeping with my dogs and cats till they cart me off in a pine box. The love and stress relief brought to me by animals far outweighs the risks 🙂

    Hope you feel better soon Jess!!

  8. I let my human kiss me, but she’s not allowed to use her tongue or paws.
    She ALWAYS has to give me a kiss before she goes to bed. I’m a bit worried I might catch something from her. She can be disgusting sometimes, especially when she gets out of the bath. If she’s covered in mud, I know she’s safe though. *wag wag wag*

  9. As a nurse it is true the things you listed you can contract. MRSA is really only a risk if you have open wounds or are immune compromised. You can get it other ways but it would be rare and the dog can also get it from you. And yes its true the plague is making a comeback. Keeping the rodent population down and keeping your pet flea free is helpful but every year there are new cases of the plauge.

    1. Yeah, I was surprised to find in my research that there have been at least a couple of cases are year of the plague. I am glad you chimed in here to give us more information from someone in the know.

  10. Mom is just fine about getting a good wet kiss from us pups EXCEPT in a case like today where we were naughty on our walk and ate something disgusting. Mom says no kisses today or until the smell goes away. She can be such a downer when we find something so wonderful 😉

    1. If I see them eat something gross I usually wait an hour and give them some treats in the meantime to “wash it out”. Ha, ha.

  11. I don’t sleep with my mom and dad, except when we nap on the couch. But that is because the bed belongs to my kitties and mom says they are too old for this crazy puppy 😉

    I do give them kisses though! They like it. Mom will point to her cheek and say “Kisses?” and then I do it. That game is fun 🙂

    1. That does sound like a fun game. At our house we say “kissie?” in a really high pitched voice and wait for them to give us a few licks 🙂

  12. Woof! Woof! Mom read so many articles about this. I give her kisses all the time and of course she kisses me back. I got my own bed and not allowed on my peeps bed. Feel better. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  13. Truth? I have never given a thought to the possibility that I could catch something from my dog. My dogs always sleep on the bed (if they want to – it’s their choice) and yes, there is the occasional kiss on the mouth (frequency depending on what they’ve been eating and/or licking recently). Of course as a kid we would dig up sweet potatoes from the field, brush them off and eat them raw and no one ever got sick. Maybe I ate enough germs as a kid to develop some high test immunity.

  14. OK…but…um…am I the only one totally wondering why the flea problem wasn’t an issue before the plague problem was?! I mean, we’ve been really lucky to never have a flea issue at out house, but in theory, if the fleas were the carrier…does it really matter if Fido’s in the bed at all? What about when you chill out together on the couch? Or jump in the car and head to the park? Seems like the logical solution would be to address the plague-ridden fleas, not the sleeping arrangements (though it would be nice to get my side of the bed back…)

    1. Nope. You weren’t the only one except my thought was that the plague came from the fleas not the dog. Your points take that thought even further. You are so right 🙂

  15. I’ve always thought the advice not to sleep with a dog (or cat) was just some made up hype by a non-animal person! Really! Only my cats sleep with me – they were here first and claimed the bed first! But I don’t think there is any proof that you can catch anything from having an animal in your bed. Hope you feel better quick!

  16. Yikes! Great post… kind of wish I hadn’t read it! 😉

    I let Luna and Penny kiss me on the face, but avoid the mouth area.

  17. My weiner, shih-tzu and big ol’ mutt all kiss me on the mouth and the two little ones sleep with us. I can’t imagine it any other way. Well, sometimes, I imagine what it would be like not to be sandwiched in, but for the most part, I love it!

  18. I have had 3 doxies at different times and they all slept with husband–never caught anything from them and they loved to give kisses wherever they wanted–still alive and kicking!

  19. Im so happy I came across this thread, and know im not the only one who sleeps with and gets and gives constant kisses to my furbaby.. he is my life, I love him more than any human ( if thats possible) ?? Probably why ive been single for 3.5 years since I brought him home no bloke wants to share my bed with dog, love me love my dog, I hope one day to find a dog friendly human, if not blah I get kisses and unconditional love from my furbaby.. it lowers my blood pressure, and pain pets are the best medicine xxx

    1. My hubby can’t sleep if the dogs are not in the bed with us 🙂 I can’t imagine a life without lots of doggy kisses now.

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