Do You -and Should You- Kiss Your Dog?
Kristin Chenoweth did it a couple of months ago on "Ellen." You may have even done it yourself. Kissing your dog: OK or not OK?
We're not talking about a quick peck atop the head; we mean actually giving your dog a smooch on the lips (or in Chenoweth's case, an unabashed tongue duel). It's an issue that divides dog owners; a 2009 study showed that just about half allow and indulge in such behavior.
The debate continues: Is it sweet? Gross? More importantly, is it tantamount to germ warfare? How much interaction might be too much? We asked readers and veterinarians alike to tell us what they think.
"Fifi's Just Showing Affection"
Personal preference, of course, dictates a Fido-phile's decision to kiss or not to kiss. And what many dog owners prefer is letting the pet set the rules. "They show you unconditional love. It is only right to show them the same in return," says Tina Ballash Blair of Ocala, Fla. "Hugs, kisses, love -- they deserve all that and more."
Some veterinarians happily condone kissing and admit to the habit themselves. "As long as you've got a close relationship with your dog and you want to suck face, I'm OK with that," says Dr. William H. Craig, a former president of the Texas Academy of Veterinary Practice's board of directors and co-founder of the Ingram Park Animal Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
But not everyone agrees.
"I Think It's Disgusting"
Whether due to etiquette or hygiene, a number of dog owners adopt a Lucy Van Pelt-like stance against dog germs. Pet owner Erin Watzek-Valenti of Charlotte, N.C., declares, "Kiss your dog if you must, but let's kiss them on the head or a peck on the cheek. Kisses on the mouth are gross!"
Susan Alexander, a dog owner in New York admits that even though she dotes on her pet, she's completely "skeeved out" by the whole subject. "I'm not a casual lip kisser with humans, much less with my dog. Why do people have to do this? Seriously? What's wrong with a little nuzzle on the top of the dog's head? That's sweet and a way of showing affection without going too far."
Even some vets set limits when it comes to crossing the line into too much doggie slobber. In her book "It's a Dog's Life, but It's Your Carpet," Dr. Justine Lee writes, "Just because I'm a vet doesn't mean that I like to be open-mouth kissed by dogs."