Surely you love giving your dog as much pampering as he giving it to you, and this includes letting him fill your face and hands with kisses. It should be borne in mind that dog saliva is not free of bacteria (like ours), what’s more, they always have bacteria in their mouth and even more so if good hygiene is not followed. So, it is normal to ask yourself some things like: what happens if a dog licks your mouth? or what diseases in dogs can be spread to people (zoonoses)?
In this article we are going to talk about the diseases transmitted by dogs through saliva , so keep reading to know the dangers of dog saliva and how to avoid these types of problems, mainly by taking care of your health.
Capnocytophaga, a disease transmitted by the saliva of dogs
This is a disease caused by bacteria ( Capnocytophaga canimorsus ) forming part of the bacteria in the mouth of dogs naturally and is in the natural flora of the mouth of the dogs, particularly in their gums, and is transmitted from dogs to humans through saliva , any lick or bite can lead to the spread of this bacterium from a dog to a human, especially if the dog bites you or licks your mouth or hand and later you touch your mouth without realizing it. In the dog, no symptoms will be observed, as it is part of its oral flora, but if a human is infected, symptoms such as:
- High fever.
- Back pain.
- General discomfort.
- If there is a bite wound, it will look infected.
Sometimes the disease is mild, but you have to be especially careful if you are a person with a weakened immune system as it can affect you seriously, so it is especially recommended to avoid licking and biting dogs if you are a immunosuppressed person. Treatment should be based on an antibiotic regimen prescribed by the doctor.
It is commonly spoken of worms in dogs , although they are not always worms themselves, but there are several types of parasitic worms. They can be found in the digestive system of dogs that are not given preventive antiparasitics, but also in the lungs, liver and heart. Those most at risk of being transmitted to humans are commonly called intestinal worms , as they are the most frequent. There are two types of parasitic worms: round or nematodes and flat or cestodes . Nematodes are the genera Toxocara, Hookworm, Ascaris, Dirofilaria, etc.
The eggs of these worms are eliminated in the feces, so it is possible to become infected by breathing near feces contaminated with these parasites. Although contagion may seem more difficult between dogs and humans through the saliva of dogs, the reality is that it is not so difficult if, for example, your dog licks the anal area, its feces or sniffs some feces in the street that carry nematodes and their eggs. In these cases, the eggs can remain in your mouth and through a lick on your face, mouth or hands, they can pass your mouth, eyes or nose and infect you with intestinal parasites. Furthermore, nematodes are transmitted transplacentally to fetuses and through breast milk, both in dogs and in humans. For this reason, most puppies whose mothers did not have a strict control of deworming have worms at birth. For all this, it is so important to follow the deworming guidelines indicated by your veterinarian.
Tapeworms are a type of tapeworm that appears in the dog’s feces, but they can also be in their beds or near the animal’s anus. It is common to see parts of tapeworms that look like “grains of rice” in their feces, on their blankets and beds, etc.
The contagion occurs as in the previous case, either by being near feces or materials contaminated with these pieces that contain their eggs or by the saliva of a dog infected with tapeworms . The clearest symptoms of this intestinal parasite are to see these pieces and eggs in these areas and that the dog eats a lot of food but does not gain weight or even lose weight, as the parasite takes away the nutrients. Treatment and prevention is also carrying out a deworming plan , as in the case of nematodes. So, now that you know how parasites are transmitted from dogs to people, try to have the best possible hygiene to avoid it.
The cause of this disease is the parasite Echinococcus granulosus , known as the hydatid worm , hence the name of the disease ” hydatidosis “, or the dog tapeworm , as it is common among these when they are not dewormed. Until a few years ago this disease was very common, but today it is less widespread thanks to the control campaigns that the municipalities and communities have carried out.
In carnivorous animals (definitive host), this parasite develops to adulthood as intestinal tapeworms. These tapeworms lay eggs in the host’s intestine that are released with the feces. The intermediate host are herbivorous animals and humans, among others. The egg is ingested and once in the intestine, the eggs release oncospheres that pass into the bloodstream through the intestinal mucosa. The infested blood reaches different organs, such as the brain, lungs, liver, etc., where hydatid cysts with thousands of larvae develop and produce .
People can become infected in the same way described above, if the eggs are in the dog’s mouth and it licks or bites us or by touching an infested pet, since the eggs can also remain in the animal’s hair, passing these to our hands and when we touch the mouth, nose or eyes we get it.
Giardia are protozoa that are transmitted mainly by feces , in which infective cysts are released, but they are also transmitted by dog saliva . Contagion occurs in the same way as in nematodes and cestodes, if the dog has these protozoa in its mouth and licks your mouth or hand and then you touch your mouth, eyes or nose.
The main symptom is diarrhea and the diagnosis must be made by stool analysis of several days, since these parasites are eliminated intermittently. Treatment for giardias or giardiasis is to take metronidazole.
Rabies, one of the viral diseases that dogs spread through saliva
This is perhaps one of the best known saliva-borne diseases . This disease caused by a virus is widespread throughout the world and affects all mammals. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal, since the virus is eliminated by saliva, so it can infect us with the bite of a dog but also that of a raccoon or other animals.
The inoculated virus replicates and enters the nerves in the area, advancing neuron by neuron to the brain at a slow speed. This means helps you not be easily detected by the immune system. In addition, it will also reach the salivary glands where it multiplies and is released, for this reason the rabies virus is spread by saliva .
Initially the disease is asymptomatic. The first symptoms of rabies that may appear are:
As the disease progresses, a furious phase occurs with symptoms such as:
- Excessive salivation
- Convulsive crisis.
Finally, the paralytic phase occurs when coma and death occur.
There is no treatment for rabies. If an animal bites a person, it should be kept under observation for symptoms for 10 days. The bitten person must be washed with soap and water, given serum with rabies antibodies and vaccinated. Rabies vaccination is mandatory for dogs in almost all communities in Spain and always when going abroad.
Leptospirosis is a disease that dogs can transmit indirectly through saliva , since mainly contagion occurs through contact with urine . It is caused by a bacterium and, more specifically, contagion is produced by the contact of remains of infected urine with lesions on the skin or by ocular, nasal or oral mucosa.
The first phase of leptospirosis is similar to a human cold and can go unnoticed. If the immune system does not control it or treatment is not established, the disease progresses and the kidneys, liver and other organs are affected, producing jaundice, hemorrhages, kidney failure, arrhythmias … and death may occur. Faced with this disease, the animal has symptoms such as:
- High fever.
- Dark urine and sometimes hemorrhagic.
- Gastroenteritis with diarrhea and bloody vomiting.
Leptospira is eliminated through urine, so if your dog has this pathology, he can lick his genitals to wipe off any urine residue and then by licking you you could be infected. In addition, there are many more animals that suffer from it and can infect it, such as rats.
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