Is it safe to let your dog kiss you?
Updated On: Nov 21 2013 08:40:07 AM EST
The Spencer family added Stella, a catahoula leopard dog, to complete their clan last year.
It was the first time Kevin's wife Felice had a dog at home and she was instantly in love.
[WEB EXTRA: Family pet pics]
"I love her, the kids are getting older now, that's where I get my affection now. She's my puppy," said Felice who willingly lets Stella kiss all over her face and mouth.
But Kevin claimed he's seen everything from dead squirrels to cat feces inside the dog's mouth, and doesn't let her anywhere near his face.
Deborah Huddleston doesn't mind dog kisses either. Her 11-year-old German Shepard Louis isn't as rambunctious as he used to be, but Huddleston said every once in a while he sneaks a kiss in on her face.
"He's just the best dog. I think it's a great way to show affection," said Huddleston.
Huddleston and the Spencers agreed to swab their dogs mouths and send the samples off to a lab.
At EMSL Analytical, Dr. Blanca Cortes analyzed the results.
"The bottom line is, they are animals and they are licking everything," said Cortes.
Stella's sample had 169,000 colonies of a bacteria called Neisseria, which according to Cortes can be associated with sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea.
Although it sounds alarming, Felice really has no reason to worry.
"The reality is there are enzymes in the dog's mouth that serve as antibacterial. They actually deter the growth and the infection," said Dr. Cortes.
Louis' mouth also contained Neisseria, along with three other types of bacteria: Enterobacter aerogenes, gemella sanguinis and pseudomonas aeruginosa.
The psuedomonas was the worst of the lot according to Cortes.
"Pseudomonas is a gram negative bacteria and the problem is it has an innate resistance to antibiotic,"said Cortes, who added that it is often found in hot tubs that haven't been properly maintained.
But Huddleston should not have to worry either about Louis' kisses making her sick.
Since Louis is older, his mouth should have even more enzymes breaking down bacteria, according to Cortes.
She also said that only someone whose immune system was compromised could really run the risk of getting sick for the dog saliva, such as someone who'd just had an organ transplant.
At the end of the experiment, the burning question for the dog owner's was how their dogs' mouths might compare to a human mouth.
According to Cortes, our mouths contain dozens of different bacterias on top of what may or may not be in a dog's mouth.
But veterinarians have equated the comparison to 'apples and oranges', because the bacterias and enzymes are so different.