Are kisses from your pet dangerous to your health?

Local News

Courtesy: Randi Ayala (KARD, KTVE)

Patrick and Shannon Gallagher adore their Yorkie Piper.

“We bought this dog so we could have a dog that could get in our laps”, says Patrick Gallagher.

But after learning about the man who had to have limbs removed after his dog transferred bacteria, his wife is second guessing how often they should let their fur baby lick them.

“I’m sure not letting my dog lick on me are you”, Mrs. Gallagher asks her husband. His response, “Yeah I’m going to let my dog lick on me.”

Monroe Veterinarian Rick Lefebvre says the bacteria, Capnocytophaga canimorsus, is widespread. It’s found in more than 70% of dogs and almost 60% of cats.

“It’s a normal inhabitant in a dog’s and even a cat’s mouth”, says Lefebvre.

You can also find it in a place you might not expect.

“Some bacteria in that species [is] even isolated in humans’ mouths”, says Lefebvre.

There are over 700 different types of bacteria found in dogs’ mouths.

Though it’s rare, medical journals say there have been cases where people have contracted the disease from a dog’s bite and died. Lefebvre says the man who had to have his hands and feet amputated, just from contact with his dog’s saliva, was such a rare phenomenon. 

“Most antibiotics kill that bacteria it just so happened in this gentleman’s case something made that bug enter his bloodstream, he became septic, and it caused his organs to fail”, says Lefebvre.

He says a lot of it has to do with your own health. Weak immune systems make you more likely to suffer infections.

Lefebvre says those who have had spleens removed or suffer from chronic debilitating alcoholism, are at higher risks to suffer from complications associated with Capnocytophaga canimorsus.

However Lefebvre says the average person shouldn’t stress over it.

“The normal person to be worried about their dogs’ mouth, not a thing to worry about. You get exposed to some pretty nasty stuff everyday”, says Lefebvre. He says his main concern is rabies.

As for the Gallaghers, they say they aren’t turning away any kisses from Piper.

“We love our little puppy dog and we’re going to be glad to let her lick on us”, says Shannon Gallagher.

The family of Greg Manteufel, the man who had to have his hands and feet removed, and still has to undergo more surgeries, set up a GoFundMe to help with all the unexpected medical bills.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.