How healthy is it to get intimate with your pet?

Online vet reviews some of the major diseases that people and our pets share

With all the talk recently frowning upon sharing your bed with your pet, cooking your pet’s food in separate areas than your own food, and a few recent cases of rabies in domestic animals, I stopped to wonder: what is all this hype about, and really, how dangerous or safe is it to be snuggly wuggly with our pets?  As a veterinarian, I want to address the main health scares that our pets bring indoors, and some of the myths that surround them.


I was a new veterinarian when we first learned that MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus), the bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics, existed. As a nation, we freaked out. Our MRSA positive pets were buried (after they passed, they were not euthanized let it be known) 6 feet deep in seriously thick plastic liners, and vets were quarantining simple skin infections left and right. I remember being scared. Now looking back? It seems we went a little overboard. Better safe than sorry, but MRSA is no longer making me lose sleep at night, as a vet or a pet owner.  Still, if your veterinarian is concerned, listen up!

The dreaded bacteria from a dog or cat’s mouth.

Now it is true, I am not a fan of having all my clients lick me on the lips. While you may think this is weird as I am a vet and a lover of all animals four-legged and furry (or furless), would you kiss thirty people a day? I’m guessing no.

What are your thoughts on getting up close and personal with your furbabies?

Do you kiss the person you share your life or space with? Lots of people would answer yes here. While your person hopefully doesn’t lick their bum, I can go either way on this one. Personally I think on the lips is too much, but I am one of those people who brings antibacterial hand gel everywhere. Perhaps a bit over the top, but I am so much healthier now than I was before I was geared up my my germ warfare.

As someone who has performed thousands of dentals on pets, most all of which there are countless harmful bacteria being aerosolized, and I know I have slipped more than once on my personal protective equipment, I have never gotten sick from dog or cat mouth germs. As the usual recommendation, I would say keep pet kisses away from the young, elderly, and the immune-compromised.

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This is the biggest threat in my veterinary experience. An alarming 600 U.S. children lose their eyesight each year due to roundworm larvae. They contract this parasite from the soil contaminated with infected dog feces. It is important to emphasize your own pet can be parasite free, and your child can still be at risk.

As for safety tips for intestinal parasites, it’s simple. Use common sense, good hygiene (meaning picking up poop every other day in your yard, as this prevents the parasite from becoming “infective”), and please don’t skip on the heartworm meds. Being in a place where I honestly don’t see a lot of HW disease, I do diagnose a tremendous number of dogs with intestinal parasites when their owners skip a month of HW preventative. While I too hate the mark up we have to pay for pet medications, it is definitely worth the price to keep your family–four and two-legged– safe and parasite free.

Keep is simple, keep is safe, keep the love going with your pets. Isn’t that why we have acclimated into each other’s lives after all?

Cheers to pet snuggles,

Dr. Laci


Dr. Laci Nash Schaible, DVM

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February 9, 2011 at 18:51

Well, I don’t think that getting up close and personal with our pets is that much more dangerous than anything else we do.

That said, out guys are not big face-lickers. We never encouraged (or discouraged it), we are just all content with snuggling stuff.

They are allowed on the furniture and on the bed though.

February 11, 2011 at 17:51

Furniture, bed, kitchen counter (cats, duh) I don’t know how you can stop them. We tried to stop the cats from the counter tops and they don’t when we are home, but paw prints mysteriously appear when we leave.

Rottie face kisses would be mighty wet and messy. :-)

February 11, 2011 at 17:57

Advantage of having Rotties, they don’t get on the kitchen counter LOL

February 11, 2011 at 18:02

Hilarious mental image! HAHAHAHA!

January 23, 2012 at 06:54

It always surprises me how disrespectful people can be in their blog comments, nice blog keep it up and don’t listen to the haters!

May 18, 2012 at 02:48

my dog also has a lot of food allegories so i cook for him. i got the reiepcs from this book Dr. Pitcairn’s complete secrets to the natural health of dogs and cats By: Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. it helped me a lot. also you might want to by Omega 3 fish oil soft pills and give your dogs one each once a day a half hour before breakfast. its very good for skin and there nails and fur and this is what helped my dog’s itch to go away. hope i helped

May 15, 2012 at 03:19

Wow! This could be one particular of the most helpful blogs We’ve ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Wonderful. I am also an expert in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

July 27, 2012 at 18:31

Thanks for the advice, he has ganied a lot of weight since we got our Pug and there is always cat food left in his bowl.He won’t do it while the dogs eating so we are now just giving him enough so theres nothing left in the bowl and trying a new cat food out.I have a pic i was gonna post but i dont see how to do that.redcat<^..^<