Dogs are said to be most faithful out of all other animals on Earth. They love their owners the most, especially those who’ve raised them right from their birth. Many dog owners love their dogs but do not like the way they lick their faces. Ever wondered why do dogs lick your face?
Dogs usually lick face out of affection they get from the motherly love you give them. Also licking releases endorphins that provide them with pleasure and relieves their stress. Other possible reasons could be either they like your salty skin and love to lick you for that, for feeding purposes, to gather information about you, for cleaning, for the healing of wounds or to get your attention. Another reason may be you smell delicious to them!
Let’s see why and when your dog tries to find reasons to lick you.
Why Dogs Lick Your Face?
Usually, an animal licks something that it likes or out of affection. If you find your dog licking food in some dish or on the floor or anywhere else, you’ll definitely get to the point that your dog likes it. They may also lick you out of affection they have for you.
In the same way, your dog licking you might be because you taste delicious to them. This doesn’t mean they will eat you up but because they like your salty skin that soothes their taste buds after licking your face.
Another possible reason could be your dog is trying to clean you up by removing dust particles from your body or any such thing stickered on your face.
Excessive licking also indicates nervousness and anxiety of your dog. In that case, you need to consult a doctor immediately.
Dogs cannot speak and convey to others what they want. Licking their owner’s face indicates that they might need something. So you need to see what they are looking for.
Dogs lick to show affection
Love attracts! Either humans or animals. Care, warmth, and love are submissive gestures. They make every species constant of each other and attracts towards each other. When it comes to motherly love, it has no bounds!
Also, dogs are said to be very caring and loving. They smell even a little essence of love and affection from their owners.
Many people buy dogs, already grown up, and love them all and out. Their constant attention and affection attracts dogs and makes them ingrained of their owners.
People who raise their dogs right from their birth make a special place in their pup’s life. Just like mothers love their children and protect them from scratches, and children limitlessly loving their mothers due to their care, there becomes a bond between dogs and their owners.
Out of this never-ending love and affection, dogs lick their owners. Some people name it as dogs “giving kisses” to their owners. So does this mean that the amount of licking shows the love they have for their owners?
Not every time! It could be one of the possible reasons. Your dog may be licking you or giving you kisses because he loves you. Everyone has its own way of expressing love, so does dogs. Licking is one such way.
Dogs lick your face when you are heightened enough, to reach your face. If they are not that capable, they may lick you on your other body parts, such as legs, arms, hands, etc.
Some dogs lick less, but that doesn’t mean that they love you less. It’s just that they don’t like licking. While some dogs lick so much, shows they are very expressive about their love!
Dogs Lick for Feeding Purposes
Dogs are very obsessed with food. Some dogs are crazy for it while some are not that wild. They easily get attracted to the tranquilizer aroma of food and move towards it.
Food lover dogs mesmerize all types of foods, either it is human food or dog meals. Some dogs love fruits and vegetables as well despite being a carnivore!
Wild animals search for their food on their own. They aren’t sure how and when they’ll get their next meal. So they search for it. However, pet dogs do have a proper schedule of everything. They get a shower, food and everything on time.
However, when they aren’t treated on time, they may give a few signs to remind you of your duty to feed them, and Licking is one of them!
So he starts licking you. Dog’s Licking, for feeding purposes, may not be on your face but mostly on your feet.
Many foods are not good for some dogs. Dogs are allergic to some foods, so in that case, people avoid giving that food to their dog. This makes them greedy for that stuff, and they force their owners to feed them with that by licking them.
There may be a case when you’ve fed your dog entirely, but when you sit to have your snacks, they start licking you, and you start thinking about what on Earth is he asking for now? It may be because he wants to enjoy food with you (Your food!)
Read about: Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?
You smell Delicious to Dogs, so they lick you
Do you know what do dogs have that we don’t have? The Smelling power! They have about 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to six million in ours. Moreover, the part of their brain, analyzing smells is 40 times greater than us.
No doubt, smelling capabilities of dogs are very famous, and they feel long-distance fragrances within seconds.
Some people smell admirable. Their fragrance is so appealing that attracts humans and animals towards them. This smell is sometimes appetizing for the pets they own.
You may be amazed to know that the long slurpy kisses from your dog are not just a sign of affection. There may be other reasons for the dog being so lovely and gratifying with you. Maybe he’s trying to kill two birds with one stone!
Other than showing deep affection, he may be smelling you and your parts of the body because you smell delicious! This doesn’t mean that he’ll eat you, but it’s just for his own satisfaction. Dogs also like to taste the salty skin of their owners. So this could also be the reason behind their licking.
Read about: Can Dogs Eat Pineapples?
Dogs Lick you to know about you
I was at my friend’s place who got a pet dog, whom he loved very much and they both lived like a family. He was very stressed, and we both were discussing the issues when suddenly his dog came and started licking him.
A few minutes later, the dog went and took a ball to play in front of him to make him happy. My friend told me that the dog had known about his owner’s depression and trying to please him.
This left me all surprised that what makes dogs sensible enough to feel it. So I searched for it and found some interesting facts about this.
Another reason for dog licking you superfluously can be that he wants to gather information about you. They want to explore the human world and its strengths and weaknesses.
Dogs usually sniff or lick moist areas of the body, such as hands and feet. This informs them about our health conditions even before we get to know about it.
Dogs have special receptors in their nose and mouth that enables them to interpret the scented molecules in human sweat. As mentioned above, they have 300 million olfactory receptors that are 40 times stronger than that of humans. So that makes them smell the feelings inside us.
After licking you, your dog will be able to know whether you are stressed or happy. They might be curious about your condition, and this is the best way they can get to know about you.
Dogs Lick you for cleaning
“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.” Marie Kondo
Cleaning is essential for our health. Hygiene plays a significant role in good health, and it affects both animals and humans. There are many animals, brought up in a filthy environment, especially dogs and cats that roam aimlessly.
On the other hand, some cats and dogs are adopted as pets and live in a healthy, clean environment. This creates a sense of responsibility among the pets that helps them take care of them as well as their owners.
Dogs, living in a friendly environment, are very honest to their owners. They are like friends to their owners and look before them just like their owners looked for them on their time.
So when they see even a small dust particle or any food scraps or particles on your skin, they start licking on that part and clean it according to their senses. This is another form of affection they have for their owners by looking after them and keeping an eye on the little things.
But they don’t know that what they are trying to do is actually creating a mess for us! Although they do this out of care, but that saliva they are using for licking, itself has many germs in it. It may clean the dirt on you externally but will harm you internally in the form of bacteria.
Your Dog Might Lick you for Healing
Healing the wounds with saliva? It sounds too creepy to hear that Dog saliva is a healer for wounds. According to scientific research, even human saliva has many antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Modern medicine has approved the saliva as an active healing agent.
A few days ago, while I was standing outside my house enjoying the weather, a boy was playing outside his home along with his family sitting near. Suddenly he slipped and fell down. There was a wound on his foot, and it started to bleed. Their family dog ran there and started licking that place of injury.
The parents, standing with him, got scared of this and shooed that dog away. However, his grandmother asked his parents to let the dog lick that wound as it will heal it faster. That left me all amazed and thinking about what is the real story behind this concept.
We have a lot of evidence from the historical traditions that dog saliva has healing properties. The city of Hardai was named as Cynopolis because they used to offer dogs in healing practices. They believed that dog licks might cure the diseases, especially those areas of the body with sores or lesions.
There are still many believers in this concept. There’s a french saying “Langue de Chien, langue de médecin,” that means, “A dog’s tongue is a doctor’s tongue.”
All the dirt on the wound will get stick to the saliva that will clean the area of the injury from all dirt and debris. Scientists have found that dog saliva has some proteins called histatins that can cure infections. Some histatins have cells called epithelium that help to close a wound quickly.
However, nowadays, advanced research has found that these concepts are baseless and are more harmful than healthy. Your dog may clean the wound area from dirt by licking and bleeding may stop, but it will transfer all the bacteria to you through that wound. Today, it is not believed to be a healthy practice!
Dogs Lick to Get Your Attention
Attention seeking is always followed by love and affection, and every one has its way of seeking love and care. Those who ask for your attention have special expectations and look for you every time they need you.
As we have mentioned above, that pet dogs live in a friendly environment. So they, just like humans, demand special care and attentiveness from their owners.
If you have been giving them a significant time of your life, daily, and for once if you get busy in your routine, they will think of every possible way to grab your attention. As a result, they may start licking you for that.
Dogs usually show such behavior when they get a positive response from the other side. That response may be in the form of touches of laughter, petting, smiles, etc. or you agree to play with them. Sometimes it’s just that your dog has got bored and that is why he is looking for your attention.
Attention may not be because your dog needs some time from you; there may be some sort of emergency that he is trying to indicate with such actions.
You may stop this quench for your attention by endowing a part of your routine for your dog or else they will continue licking you until they get the mission accomplished!
Dogs Lick you to Relieve Stress
Dogs also suffer from stress and anxiety. This is called obsessive-compulsive disorder that occurs due to prolonged stress and anxiety.
Licking doesn’t always show that dogs need affection and care, or they are trying to clean or heal wounds. It also indicates that your dog may be suffering from stress or anxiety. Sometimes, licking is a severe problem. It usually involves licking surfaces, objects, and even humans.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has specific indications. It is often characterized by repetitive actions, a fixed sequence of activities, and movements that have no purpose. Its symptoms include:
- Behavioral changes ( their behavior becomes intense with time and its frequency and duration increases with time)
- Tail chasing (dogs frequently trying to chase their tails)
- Playfulness decreases
- Repetitive behaviors
- See self-excited injuries
- Excessive licking
There are various causes of OCD in dogs given as:
- Illness or pain in the body
- Kenneling and confinement
- Abnormal activities in the nervous system due to different chemical actions or physical imbalance.
If you notice any indications mentioned above of OCD in your dog, you need to immediately seek a veteran for the physical examination of your dog. This should be promptly treated so that it does not cause any severe problem.
Your veteran may further recommend an animal behaviorist that will prescribe some medicines to you for your dog. These medicines relieve anxiety and stress. These medications are not a temporary solution to this, and you must train your dog correctly to give them permanent relief and recover from the anxiety problems.
Is it okay to let your Dog Lick Your Face?
Yes! There’s no harm in letting your dog lick your face. They are your pets. They won’t harm you on coming close. It’s just a way to express inner feelings.
However, a dog’s saliva is not suitable for human skin. It contains a lot of bacteria that is dangerous when a dog bites. It won’t affect you until and unless it touches any open wound on your body. Through that wound, germs enter into the body and may cause various diseases. There are many cases of illness caused by the licking of dogs.
It was believed centuries ago that dog’s saliva heals wound, but this is not true. Instead, it damages it more than treating it. It causes slow healing of wounds and sometimes causes it to reopen. So it’s dangerous to let your dog touch you if you have injuries.
Don’t let the stray dogs lick your face. They will definitely not let the chance of eating you, go. You can’t completely trust your own pet as well, despite being the most loyal mammal. He may not eat you wholly but may cause harm (This is very rare!)
Is it a health risk to let my dog lick my face?
So the question is “letting your dog lick your face cause a health risk to you?“ Probably Yes!
It usually happens that whenever our dogs want to greet us, we sit down and welcome them wholeheartedly. They shower their love upon us by licking on our face or by giving hugs and kisses. But this is not healthy for us.
There’s an old myth that says, “Dogs mouths are cleaner than human mouths.” This is definitely a MYTH! Dogs mouths have infinite natural bacteria that are the reason that dog bites are so dangerous.
However, these bacteria are threatening when your dog’s lick touches an open wound. There are no such cases of any life threats by just dogs licking on the face or elsewhere.
However, It causes various infections. The reason is that we often see that dogs are found at places we can’t even think of standing there, such as garbage, muddy areas, or any such things along the roadside. Their tongue touches those things while licking, and the same tongue touches your face. It means all the bacteria are transferred to you through those kisses.
Dogs usually lick around the anus, through which they take parasite eggs in saliva. These parasites are transferred to humans along with other viruses.
Should you let your dog lick your face?
There is no doubt that significant pathogenic bacteria are shifted to you when your dog licks you. According to a study conducted, the following bacteria are present in the dog’s mouths.
Proteobacteria are not actively poisonous, but they include salmonella that has toxic symptoms and causes abdominal cramps, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.
Actinobacteria are used in making antibiotics, but it causes many diseases in humans.
These bacteria are gram-negative, rod-shaped that cause infections in the blood. Other than adverse facts, these bacteria are a significant source of energy, fulfilling our daily energy requirement.
These are composed of gram-positive clostridia and bacilli that are absorbed by the intestines. The bacilli contain pathogenic bacteria.
Fusobacterium mostly affects youngsters and adults. It also causes infections that are not serious or dangerous. They rarely cause any harmful infections. It also results in skin ulcer, Lemierre’s Syndrome, periodontal disease, etc.
So if you let your dog lick you or your child, it may transfer bacteria to you. These bacteria may either cause harmless infections or may lead to some severe sepsis. Therefore it’s better to avoid letting your dog lick you.
However, according to old concepts, there are some benefits of a dog’s saliva as well. Dog’s saliva has many growth factors that help heal wounds. These were thought to be myths and should be left behind as it has no reality.
Also, when a dog licks, it releases their stress and makes them calm. It is believed that their licking reduces our stress levels as well.
Hence we can say that it varies person to person or dog to a dog that whether you should let your dog lick you or not. If your dog is grown up in a healthy and clean environment, then there’s no risk, and you can let your dog lick you. But if he’s flourished in a natural setting, think twice before letting him touch you.
Dogs being the most friendly and loyal animals should be loved and taken care of. You should spare a significant part of your routine for them. Take them outside, play with them, treat them on time, and clean them often. This is not only good for their health but for your health as well.
Many dog lovers don’t mind licking them; in fact, they love it. Still, if you are among those who feel inconvenient when your dog licks you, then there are specific ways you can stop them coming close to you by adopting various gestures.
To stop your dog from licking you, it’s better to avoid your dog and ignore when you see them coming toward you. Do this such that it becomes a part of their training, and guide them properly.
You can let your dogs love you sometimes, but try to keep it less. Don’t kick them or drag them out; it will offend them. Although they are animals, they have feelings as well. They might get hurt by such behavior.
Avoid giving Punishments to them if they don’t stop licking you. Such behavior can create problems for you and your dog, resulting in fear, stress, and anxiety.
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