Many besottted pet owners think nothing of giving their beloved cat or dog a kiss.
And while many aren’t deterred by hygiene issues, there’s now another off-putting reason to avoid a smooch.
Scientists are to investigate whether pets can transmit antibiotic resistant infections to humans.
The research will be led by Professor Nigel French at Massey University, in New Zealand, who believes the increasing use of antibiotics in animals may be contributing to the global issue of antimicrobial resistance.
Professor Massey said: ‘We will be looking at the risks pets may pose in the transmission of these bacterial diseases that have been identified by the World Health Organisation as a huge and growing public issue.’
He explained there is concern about an increase in the incidence of two particular types of antibiotic resistant bacteria that commonly cause urinary tract infections.
These resistant infections have been found in most household pets and the bacteria is spread by fluids and faeces, he added.
‘Animals clean their backside by licking it, so they can get faecal contamination in their mouth and then lick humans. That’s how the infection could be transmitted.
‘It underlines what most people already know – you shouldn’t let your dog lick your face.
‘If the dog licks your hands you should wash your hands afterwards. It’s basically hand-hygiene and avoiding too intimate contact with your pet.’
Previous research has suggested that people who let their dogs lick their mouths could catch gum disease from the pets.
This is because kissing a pet could allow bacteria to move from the dog’s mouth to the owner’s.
Left untreated, gum disease can turn into periodontitis, an inflammatory disease of the mouth tissue, according to report in the Archives of Oral Biology.
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that affects the tissues that support teeth and hold them in place.
If left untreated, the jaw bone can decay and small spaces can open up between the gum and teeth. The teeth may become loose and eventually fall out.