Why Do Dogs Lick People?
Why Do Dogs Lick People?

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Why Do Dogs Lick People?

There’s no doubt dogs are affectionate creatures. And they have numerous ways of showing it. So what’s the deal when your furry friend comes up and gives you a big ol’ pooch smooch? Let’s take a tongue-in-cheek look into why.

 

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You taste great … or at least interesting

Dogs are oral creatures and gather a lot of information about their surroundings through taste and smell. Maybe you’re salty after a sweaty run. Maybe you’ve got barbecue sauce on your face. “Dogs can smell a lot better than we can,” says Opens a new windowDr. Jo Gale, BVetMed CertLAS MRCVS, Senior Manager, Global Science Advocacy at Waltham Petcare Science Institute, “so they find a lot more things interesting to lick than we can.” This despite the fact dogs only have about 1,700 taste buds compared to around 9,000 in humans.

 

 

Why do dogs lick your face?

In a poll* of dog owners, IAMS™ found a large majority (75%) believe dogs lick people to offer friendliness. That’s definitely a correct assumption. Licking has been a social behavior among dogs since the days of great-great-great granddaddy wolf. "It’s a standard canine greeting to lick others around the face,” agrees Opens a new windowJames Serpell, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. “Junior members of the pack will run around and lick the mouths of more senior members.” Your dog considers you part of their pack, so it’s their way of greeting and welcoming you. Or maybe you still have that barbecue sauce on your face.

 

 

Why do dogs lick your wounds?

In ancient Greece, dogs at the shrine of Asclepius were trained to lick patients. In the Middle Ages, Saint Roch was said to have been cured of a plague of sores through his dog’s licks. The French even have a saying, “langue de chien, langue de médecin,” which translates to, “a dog’s tongue, a doctor’s tongue.”

 

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Don’t cancel your health insurance just yet. While dogs’ saliva does have some possible bactericidal properties against some types of bacteria, it can put you at the risk of exposure to others. Too much licking can also reopen the wound and cause further infection. With modern medicine, you’re much better off hitting the first-aid kit.

And that myth about dogs’ mouths being cleaner than humans’? Not true — both contain over 600 types of bacteria. You’re welcome for that image.

 

 

How to handle a dog that licks too much

While an occasional canine kiss is “aww”-inducing, some dogs can overdo it to the point of annoyance. When this happens, the best thing to do is “completely ignore it and give no attention,” suggests Dr. Jo Gale. “When they stop, provide them with attention.” Over time your dog will learn to scale back on the smooches.
 

*Surveyed U.S. dog owners, age 18+ 

Sample Size: n=201 

Fielded May 8-10, 2020

  • A Healthy Diet for Your Dog Can Mean Good Health for You
    A Healthy Diet for Your Dog Can Mean Good Health for You-mob

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    A Healthy Diet for Your Dog Can Mean Good Health for You

    As a veterinarian, I’ve found that pet owners take seriously the responsibility of ensuring their dogs live healthy, happy lives. They worry about making sure their dog gets enough exercise, receives regular wellness checks and receives balanced nutrition that gives them energy to run and play.
     

    What some people don’t realize is that owning and caring a dog can improve the owner’s health as well. Spending quality time with your dog and providing them with quality nutrition is good for the dog and can help ease stress and anxiety levels for you. Studies have shown that owning a pet can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels1 — which is great news for your heart health.
     

    In short, when your dog is getting the best care, proper exercise, nutrition and love, they can enjoy a long and healthy life. And that can ultimately make you healthier, too!

     

     

    So what does that mean when it comes to feeding your dog?

    Many owners see their dog as part of the family, and that sometimes means they will feed their dog like they feed themselves. For example, some people may choose low-carb or gluten-free diets for themselves and do the same for their pets. However, while this instinct comes from a place of love, many owners don’t realize that their dog’s dietary needs differ from their own.
     

    Take grains for example. As a veterinarian, it’s important for me to note that grains are good for your dog. Yes, you read that right — they’re good!
     

    A very small percentage of dogs may have a food sensitivity that requires a special grain-free diet or a dog food without a certain protein. However, this is not necessary for the vast majority of dogs. Most dogs benefit from a complete, balanced diet with healthy grains, high-quality proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.
     

    Here’s why: Grains are a good source of carbohydrates that provide healthy energy. Some grains, like rice and wheat, provide “quick” energy, while other grains, like barley and sorghum, take longer to convert to energy. A combination of these different grains can offer a time-released energy source that helps dogs sustain energy. The whole grains in IAMS dog food are a beneficial mix, as they supply steady energy.
     

    In addition to the grains you’ll find in IAMS food, you’ll also find high-quality proteins, like chicken and lamb, as well as essential nutrients needed to help support heart health. Together, this combination will give your dog a steady source of energy to be active on walks, runs, hikes or play sessions around the house.
     

    For your dog to be healthy and happy, be sure you feed them a well-balanced diet and allow them enough exercise time. In return, you’ll get unconditional love, plenty of sweet doggy snuggles and maybe even more exercise — just a few of the ways you and your dog are joined at the heart.
     

    1 https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html

     A Healthy Diet for Your Dog Can Mean Good Health for You

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