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Health Concerns: Twilight Star Kellan Lutz Kisses Dog.

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This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as: Health Concerns: Twilight Star Kellan Lutz Kisses Dog.

Health Concerns: Twilight Star Kellan Lutz Kisses Dog I certainly give credit to celebrities who choose to use their public image and popularity to benefit the well being of others, especially animals who are otherwise defenseless and unable to take care of themselves.
One well-known actor who has been in the news many times as a result of his devotion to our four-legged creatures is Twilight's Kellan Lutz. Lutz and his rescue pooch,Kola, starred in a PETA ad to promote pet adoption. He also helps Animal Rescue Sophia, where he volunteered during the filming of his movie ‘Hercules: The Legend Begins,’ by creating a YouTube video appealing for financial aid for the Bulgarian rescue. Lutz states “after seeing the many stray dogs in Bulgaria, myself and the cast of ‘Hercules’ couldn’t’t stand by and not do something to help Animal Rescue Sofia,” and “the great thing about this facility is that they don’t turn any dogs away. The hard part is they are running out of funding.”

Celebrities are constantly stalked by the paparazzi, especially in Los Angeles, we get an up-close and personal glimpse of their public lives whether they may want us to or not. As a result, every clothing choice, traffic violation, or questionable behavior is put on display for the public to perceive for the better or worse.

The UK Daily Mail recently featured photos of Lutz seemingly enjoying a lick on the lips from a cuddly canine companion in Venice Beach, CA. Is doing so a good idea from the standpoint of health for Lutz and other dog lovers?

The Harsh Truth About Kissing Your Dog

Although a lick on the face from a cute pitch may seem like an innocent and endearing act, I have concerns for the bacteria or other substances that could be spread from the dogs mouth to the person's face, lips, nose, eyes, or other parts.

Dogs lick any surface and substance that they find appealing, including the anus of another animal, urine soaked vegetation, fecal material, their own genitalia, and various other unhygienic places. Additionally, without the aid of their human companions, dogs don’t clean the surfaces of their teeth or have an antiseptic solution applied to their teeth, gums, and tongue. Even with the intervention of a human caretaker striving to promote periodontal health, the outcome is destined to be less effective than the antiseptic effect we can achieve in our own mouths. As a result, dogs naturally have a plethora of bacteria thriving in their oral cavity.

According to the US National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) articleMicrobiology of Animal Bite Wound Infections:

“The microbiology of infected bite wounds from dogs is similar to that of the organisms that colonize the dog's oral cavity. Less frequently, isolates may also come from the environment and patients' skin. Both clinically infected and early-presenting (less than 8 hour postinjury and/or not yet clinically infected) dog bite wounds are polymicrobial, with a broad combination of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms”.

This means is that there are a variety of organisms living in a dog’s mouth that are similar to bite wounds. Aerobic organisms are those that depend on the presence of oxygen in order to survive and therefore live on or near the body’s surface. Anaerobic bacteria can survive in an environment that is deprived of oxygen, so they are more commonly found deeper in body tissues and cavities.

“The most common aerobic organisms isolated at a research laboratory were Pasteurella (50%), Streptococcus (46%), Staphylococcus (46%), and Neisseria (32%).”

Some of these aerobic bacteria should sound familiar to you, as they are often found inhabiting other locations on the body. Streptococcus sp. is commonly one of the causative agents of strep throat or “Strep.” Staphyloccocus sp. is one of the most common bacteria found on the skin and may be known as “Staph.”

“The most common anaerobic organisms, in order of decreasing frequency, included Fusobacterium nucleatum (16%), Bacteroides tectus (14%), Prevotella heparinolytica (14%), and Propionibacterium acnes (14%).” Infections with these anaerobic bacteria bacteria are less common, however, Propionibacterium acnes contributes to a skin condition affecting nearly all young adults especially during their teenage years (Acne vulgaris).

Although I hope Lutz will reconsider his tendency to let dogs lick him on the mouth, he shouldn’t totally freak out about the potential to contract disease this way. After all, the immune system functions to prevent infections from happening in the first place and washing with soap and water will remove microorganisms (bacteria, virus, parasite, etc.). Although the potential for mild to severe diseases to transfer from one species to another as a result of close contact truly exists.

In general, using good sanitary habits can help to prevent disease transmission from your pets (and other people). I suggest not permitting your pets to lick your hands, face, or any body part having mucous membranes (mouth, nose, eyes, etc.). Additionally, hands should always be thoroughly washed with soap and warm water after touching any animal.

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.
Copyright of this article (2013) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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