Stroking your dog and kissing them could spread deadly superbugs, experts warn

Pet owners have been urged to avoid unhygienic habits such as kissing dogs and letting them eat food off your plate, as antibiotic resistance becomes ‘one of the biggest threats to public health’

There is increasing concern that pets are spreading bugs

Petting your dog and letting them lick your face could spread superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, a recent study has found.

Experts are warning pet owners to avoid habits such as kissing your pet and allowing them to eat off your plate.

People are also being told to wash their hands after stroking dogs and picking up their waste.

It comes after antibiotic resistance killed more than a million people in 2019, and has been coined ‘one of the biggest problems facing humanity’.

There is a growing concern that pets may be helping spread the bugs, The Telegraph reports.

You shouldn’t let your dog lick your face


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Researchers from the Royal Veterinary College and the University of Lisbon examined stool samples from 114 healthy people, 85 dogs and 18 cats.

The findings, presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon, showed that pets and owners share bacteria and bugs with one another.

Dr Juliana Menezes, the study lead author from the University of Lisbon, said: “Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, antibiotic resistance was one of the biggest threats to public health because it can make conditions like pneumonia, sepsis, urinary tract and wound untreatable infections.

Experts warn not to share your food with pets


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“Although the level of sharing from the households we have studied is low, healthy carriers can shed bacteria into their environment for months, and they can be a source of infection for other more vulnerable people and animals such as the elderly and pregnant women.

“Previous studies have linked the close contact factors between pets and their owners to the sharing of bacteria (whether resistant or not).

“These risk factors include kissing, licking the owner’s face or eating from the owner’s plate.

Washing your hands regularly is essential


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“To reduce the spread of these bacteria within the household, it would be necessary to reduce this close relationship between the owners and their pets, and also to have greater hygiene practices.

“Bearing in mind that the bacteria we studied are found colonizing the gastrointestinal tract, the transmission occurs via the faecal-oral route, so good hygiene practices on the part of owners would help to reduce sharing, such as washing hands after collecting dog waste, or even after petting them.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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