We know you love kissing your dog and letting him lick you on the face, but that simple show of affection has the potential to be harmful–deadly even. And, it’s not just kissing your pooches that can be dangerous. Kissing other pets can be hazardous to your health as well. Here are ten pets you should never let get anywhere near your face.
We know there are so many of you who kiss your dogs and let them lick you on the face. But, did you know that your dog’s saliva can carry all sorts of pathogens, including Brucella canis, Leptospira interrogans, and Capnocytophaga canimorsus? And, some of these pathogens are deadly when transmitted to humans–especially humans with compromised immune systems. Other times, the pathogens can make you very ill and lead to fever, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even kidney and liver trouble. So, follow the advice of the experts and don’t kiss your pooch.
Cat lovers beware! Just as your pet dog can carry all sorts of pathogens, so can your pet cat. In fact, a woman in her 60s who lived in Japan died in May 2016 after becoming infected by three stray cats in her care. According to the Asahi Shimbun, a national newspaper in Japan, the health ministry said the woman began experiencing difficulty breathing and died three days later. Corynebacterium ulcerans–a zoonotic pathogen that sometimes causes diphtheria-like symptoms in humans–was found in her blood and body tissue.
FYI, even a scratch from your cat can make you very ill. Bartonella henselae, also known as “cat scratch fever,” is most likely to be transmitted by a scratch from a kitten to a kid under the age of 15, the CDC says, according to an article published by Reader’s Digest. Symptoms include fever and swollen lymph nodes.
Do you know what avian chlamydiosis is? If you handle birds in any way, you should familiarize yourself with this term. Avian chlamydiosis is a pathogen that lives in bird feces and nasal secretions. The scary part about it is that you don’t even have to come in contact with the poop or the secretions. Merely breathing in can cause you to become infected, and can lead to headache, fever, pneumonia, and hepatitis! Perhaps the best thing you can do is just stay away from birds–including wild birds and poultry–altogether, if possible.
7. Lizards and Snakes
Lizards and snakes are popular pets in Australia. That’s why the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) warns against kissing them. “Salmonellosis from reptiles can cause serious illness in humans, with people who are infected developing diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts from four to seven days and can lead to hospitalization in severe cases,” veterinarian Dr. Brendan Carmel said, according to the AVA. “Unfortunately, evidence from international studies shows that infants and young children are the most likely to become infected, and people with immune deficiencies such as organ transplant recipients and those with diabetes are all in the high risk group,” he added.
6. Guinea Pigs
If you kiss or even nuzzle a Guinea pig, there’s a chance you could end up with a severe case of diarrhea. At least that’s what happened to nine people in eight different states between July 17, 2015 and December 15, 2017. Not only that, but one of them actually ended up in the hospital!
An investigation by the CDC showed that the individuals were infected with Salmonella enteritidis after coming in contact with pet Guinea pigs. “Four of the seven people interviewed reported contact with a Guinea pig or its habitat in the week before getting sick,” the CDC wrote on its website.
The CDC also offers these tips for pet Guinea pig owners:
-Wash your hands.
-Clean up safely.
If its name isn’t Sonic the Hedgehog, then you should probably take caution when kissing your pet hedgehog. That’s because, since October, eleven people in eight states have been infected with a particular strain of Salmonella picked up from hedgehogs, according to the CDC. There were no deaths reported, but one of the infected individuals was hospitalized. There was, however, a death reported after an outbreak between December 2011 and April 2013. Twenty-six people were infected with Salmonella typhimurium, most of whom reported coming in contact with hedgehogs. Eight people were hospitalized during that outbreak.
4. Feeder Rodents
Feeder rodents–both live and frozen–can spread Salmonella and a number of other diseases directly or indirectly to humans. In case you were wondering, feeder rodents are mice and rats used to feed some reptiles and amphibians. Their Salmonella germs can get on their bodies and inside and outside of their cages, terrariums, and aquariums. And, when you come in contact with them, their enclosures or their habitat, you can get infected. That’s why experts recommend thoroughly washing your hands immediately after handling feeding rodents or touching the area(s) where they’re stored, thawed, prepared and fed to other animals. They also recommend thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces the rodents come in contact with.
3. Farm Animals
When visiting a farm, or even a petting zoo, it’s best that you don’t let your kids kiss the animals or put their faces close to the animals. The same goes for pregnant women. That’s because these animals often carry infections–cryptosporidium parvum, e.coli O157 and salmonella, for example–that are harmful to humans. Infection comes when people touch these animals in the petting and feeding areas, and when they come in contact with animal droppings or contaminated surfaces around the farm. With that said, here are some helpful tips to follow:
-Seek medical advice ASAP if anyone who’s touched farm animals gets diarrhea within two weeks after a visit to a farm. If it’s bloody diarrhea, get to a hospital emergency room immediately!
-Seek medical advice immediately if anyone is bitten by an animal.
2. African Dwarf Frog
Kissing this creature won’t give you warts (at least we don’t think it will), but it could give you some Salmonella typhimurium. According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, at least 67 people between 2009 and 2011 became sick after handling frogs. It’s not certain if these frogs were anywhere near these people’s mouths, but something important to keep in mind is that mouth-to-mouth contact is not the only way to get sick from frogs. So, take a tip from the pros and wash your hands after playing with your pet African dwarf frog and after cleaning his or her habitat.
1. Snapping Turtle
The danger in kissing this creature is not risk of infection–although that can and does happen–but there’s a risk of hurt and pain. A video that surfaced online last year shows a man attempting to kiss a snapping turtle on its snout. In the video the man is heard asking, “Who is a good boy?” right before he attempts to smooch with the reptile. His question was quickly followed by an “Ow!” after the turtle lunged at him and grabbed hold of his lips. The turtle held on for a second as the man tried to fight him off. Amazingly, the man appeared to have escaped unscathed.
No matter how thoroughly you wash your pet, there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be able to wash away everything. So, do yourself a favor: Listen to the experts and stop kissing those pets! Thanks for reading, and be safe!