Kissing your pet -- safe or unsanitary?

Published On: Mar 06 2013 03:14:29 AM EST

You either don’t give it a second thought, or think it’s gross and unsanitary.  Kissing your cat or dog is even a controversy in the veterinary community.

On one side, vets who say pets get better care when their owners have close communication with them, and pet kissing helps do that.

On the other side, vets who say it is possible to catch something from close contact with your pet – and that includes kissing.

Recent studies show the bacteria that pass between pets and owners during kissing can cause dental disease.

On his www.vetstreet.com blog, Dr. Marty Becker posted this exchange:

Shortly after the study about the transfer of oral bacteria from pets to people came out, I talked with Dr. Richard E. Besser, a pediatrician and the former acting head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the current ABC News chief health and medical editor.

“What do you think about this, Dr. Becker?” he asked me, to which I replied, “When’s the last time you ever heard or read of a veterinarian dying of a zoonotic disease or having no teeth from dental disease?” 

“Exactly,” replied Dr. Besser. “I’m still kissing my dogs!”