Why Do Our Pets Kiss Us?
Many of us like to believe our pet’s licks are really meant as affectionate kisses, but is that always the case? August is Pet Dental Month and whilst we’re busily checking the “kissability” of pets at our free Pet Kissing Booth here at Prahran Vet, we thought it a good opportunity for Dr Farlie to fill us all in on the reasons our pets “kiss” us.
Dogs lick for many reasons, the most common being affection. It releases pleasurable endorphins that calm and comfort our canine companions. Some research indicates it is another sensory tool. Licking and tasting is like reaching out and touching something. Some dogs lick to get attention or use licking as a greeting. Licking can also be a way of playing where some dogs substitute their tongue for teeth in a play fight. Dogs can learn that licking gains them attention from their owners so they incorporate it into more of their daily behaviours. A behaviour that is difficult to interrupt may be more likely to be caused by a medical condition and warrants a check up.
Cats lick as a form of bonding. Mother cats begin bathing their kittens as soon as they’re born. Kittens learn to groom by watching their mothers and practice grooming on each other. When your cat licks you it is an indication that they feel totally safe in your presence. If your cat suddenly begins licking and grooming excessively, it’s a good idea to have them checked as there are some disorders that could be to blame for the change in behaviour.
Licking or “kisses” from your pet can be a normal and affectionate behaviour. Keep in mind that pet saliva – particularly those with dental health issues – is packed with bacteria and other contaminants, so make sure their “kissability” is checked at our free pet kissing booth before you pucker up in future!