Why You Might Want To Say ‘No’ To A Slobbery Kiss From Your Pup
by Trisha Leigh
People who own dogs often come to terms with things like fur on the furniture, that smell they can’t quite find, and yes, wet kisses that sometimes get way too close to your lips.
As one elderly UK woman learned after a kiss from her dog sent her into multiple organ failure, that last thing might be something you want to avoid at all costs.
The BMJ case report detailed her slurred speech and loss of consciousness. Her condition initially improved, but four days later she began reporting headaches, diarrhea, a high fever, and doctors found her kidneys in the early stages of failure.
Her liver and lungs followed, landing her in intensive care where she suffered for some time with sepsis. Tests found the presence of an infection from Capnocytophaga canimorsus bacteria, which is found in the mouths of cats and dogs.
“This report highlights that infection can occur without overt scratch or bite injuries. It also reminds us that the elderly are at higher risk of infection, perhaps due to age-related immune dysfunction and increasing pet ownership.”
The woman, who recovered, was in her seventies but otherwise had no underlying conditions.
Though the risk of a Capnocytophaga infection in humans is typically low-risk, some have died after contracting it.
Those with compromised immune systems, who drink excessively, who are taking drugs like those necessary for chemotherapy or organ transplants, or who do not have a spleen, are at increased risk.
The bacteria has been known to lead to heart attacks, kidney failures, and gangrene, and about 3 in 10 people who contract a serious version of the infection do not make it.
Though the consequences of a seemingly innocent lick can be severe, doctors don’t want anyone panicking about an innocent smooch here or there.
“The last thing you want to do is alarm people that they’ll be infected if they get licked or kissed by a dog,” Dr. Bruce Farber told CBS News.
So don’t freak out if your dog gives you an unexpected lick…but maybe go and wash up right afterward, just in case.