Here at Posh Pets® Photography, we are a divided camp. I have always regularly kissed our pets – after all, they know me and I love them. My husband? Not so much. He loves them just as much as I do, but he’s not a fan of putting his lips to fur.

But even I – a diehard fan of physical affection – knows that kissing your dog or cat may not always be for the best. So, here are 4 questions to ask yourself before leaning in for the kiss.

dog getting treat from mom

1. Where has that adorable nose and tongue been? 

All that is between your face and another dog’s bum is your dog’s cute nose. Where was it last? Burying a treat in the mud? Snuffling a dead squirrel they found in the yard? Licking their butt or that of some other animal’s? Think about that for a minute…

As for their tongue, remember that it is essentially your pet’s dinner fork and washcloth, lapping up food, cleaning up messes, and sometimes vomiting. Cats do all of that as well, but also use their tongue to groom themselves to remove dirt and debris. They don’t often lick you – but if they do as ours have – you’ll notice that their tongues are a little prickly. Be prepared for that sensation.

2. What is your health like?

Parasites like hookworms, roundworms, and giardia can be passed from pets to people. Pasteurella, bartonella henselae, salmonella, E.coli and more can infect both canines and humans.

Now, a healthy person won’t easily catch something from their dog or cat, but that is because of your robust immune system. But after 2 years in a global pandemic, we all know a thing or two about what happens when people with weak immune systems come in contact with illnesses. So, if you are on medications that suppress your immune system, or are battling a serious illness like cancer, you may have a harder time warding off infections. So, be careful.

Children and seniors may also have less robust immune systems, so perhaps stick to cuddles.

Remember too, the presence of allergies. Many complain of allergic reactions to cat dander. Dog saliva may be a more potent allergen than their dander. So, if you are allergic to dogs or cats, forget the kisses.

4. What is your pet’s health like?

If you choose to pucker up with your pet, keep it clean. Ensure they are healthy by having regular vet visits, de-worming as necessary and, picking up poop in the yard. Cats need regular vet visits as well (This month is #NationalCatHealthMonth which encourages cat mums and cat dads to take their feline’s health seriously.) Ensure that their litter box is kept clean.

3. Does your dog or cat want to?

Consent is everything. Lots of dogs aren’t comfortable with face-to-face contact. They may lick their lips, turn their head away, or show the whites at the side of their eyes to silently tell you NO. Respect their silent warnings, or nip or bite could follow.

Cats are often even more annoyed by kisses or even kissy noises. Often, they’ll simply turn around and walk away, tail held high. Respect their choice. And remember that they have claws. One well-placed swat and you could be dealing with infection.

In conclusion…

So, to kiss or not to kiss? It’s totally up to you. I photograph many clients who love cuddling up to their pet and we get gorgeous, natural portraits full of love and kisses. Others opt for not. Either way, let your dog and cat know you love them and your relationship will flourish.
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