I saw this post on my Facebook page yesterday that incensed me ! I don’t often get worked up about rubbish that appears on general Facebook news, you end up getting a lot of adverts and general rubbish, but this one shook me to the very core. I have no idea how it got into my news but I am sure you will appreciate why I was so angry when you look at this screen shot I took of the video.
I don’t know where to start with what is SO wrong with this video of an Italian Mastiff with a baby lying on its belly, licking the baby. If you think that this behaviour is okay with a tiny baby, possibly not much more than a month old, as he is unable to lift his head, then you are not going to like the rest of this blog.
I will explain all the reasons you should never put your baby or dog in this position and also why you should not let your dog lick your baby at all, never mind on its face or nose. This behaviour is totally negligent, even if it does make for a pretty picture, there are far too many instances where dogs have turned, causing at best catastrophic trauma to the baby, and worst, death.
Hop over to Facebook to watch this video.
Dogs Licking Babies
There are so many reasons why allowing your dog to lick your baby at all is a very bad idea. I hope in the following blog I can persuade you to stop your dog doing it right now before you pass on some uncomfortable, distressing disease to your baby or heaven forbid, something devastating happens.
Licking The Face and Mouth
If you watch this video, I have put the link in the introduction, you will see that when the dog has licked the baby’s nose and mouth, it looks at its owner, to see their reaction. Licking of the face is a look-at-me behaviour that the dog associates with dominance. No animal should be allowed to exhibit signs of dominance over your baby.
This behaviour has to be stopped immediately by you, the owner. A consistent command to stop the dog licking, every time. You might think it unfair to your dog who you think is exhibiting only friendly behaviour but you cannot be too careful, a previously docile dog can turn at any moment.
The licking of a baby’s face, to you, might appear to be a mothering instinct in the dog. It might seem endearing, but imagine if the dog takes that mothering instinct further? Dogs have a different approach to mothering their pups than we have to our babies – they carry them by the head or neck, they nip when they misbehave, they growl, snap, and paw their pups to elicit control. Any of these behaviours to a baby could be disastrous.
→ Watch what your dog does with its mouth and tongue for a day……..
Dogs eat garbage, faeces, lick their backsides and genitals. There is multiple bacteria in a dog’s mouth, it then licks your baby’s face, mouth, hands, feet. Your baby then stuffs his fingers in his mouth or sucks his toes – transferring all those germs into his mouth. Babies immune systems are not developed and they cannot cope with those kind of germs. The thing that surprises me so much with this video, is that the parents have placed such a young baby on this dog, allowed it to lick their baby’s face, yet they will be meticulously sterilising this baby’s bottles! How ironic !
This baby is so young that the licking of the dog elicits a rooting reflex in the baby and it starts looking for the nipple to suck.
If a dog can lick your baby….THEY’RE TOO CLOSE !
Dog bacteria will thrive in a human mouth, as a study in Japan 2011 shows. Rare periodontal disease was found in humans that lived in close contact with infected dogs. This type of disease was aggressive gum disease, heart disease and kidney disease. This sort of disease would give your baby severe gum disease even before they grow any teeth. Babies are not born with their own collection of ‘micro biomes’. We acquire our micro biomes from the environment at birth. As we grow up our microbial profile changes along with us. I don’t think you want your baby’s ‘micro biome to be made up of harmful dog bacteria! Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for your baby to pick up immunity to the germs and bacteria that make up our world but this must be done in a controlled and careful way to ensure they pick up immunity without picking up diseases and illnesses along the way.
Leptospirosis → Dogs frequent areas where they can pick up leptospirosis from the surrounding wild animal population and even without showing any signs of the disease, they can pass it onto your baby by licking them. This can lead to kidney impairment and failure. Whilst Leptospirosis is more common in tropical countries, dont think that because you live in a cooler climate, that you are free from worry.
Worms→ Dogs lick their own backsides, as well as other dogs, they eat faecal matter and pick up parasitic worms. De-worming your dog regularly is a good habit for a dog owner and minimises the risk of giving your baby worms, particularly roundworm. Roundworm if not treated can cause blindness and the very least will give your baby a bad tummy ache and cramping.
Check your dog’s anus and fur around the anus when they are back from their walk for signs of faecal matter. They sit around the floor, and bottom shuffle, spreading germs that you then pass onto your baby by letting them crawl and lay on the floor.
Staphylococcus→ Dogs can carry staphylococcus, E.Coli, Streptococcus, all of which can be transferred to your baby through licking. These may not necessarily be life threatening but nevertheless will be very upsetting, painful and utterly miserable for your baby.
Parasites→ Cryptosporidium, herpes, parvovirus, ear mites, giardia, scabies, viral papillomas, Malassezia Dermatitis. None of these will cause symptoms in your dog, but with a baby whose immunity has not had time to build up, they will catch these parasites causing pain and suffering and potentially be very difficult to treat.
Behaviour → The dog has got to be close to your baby to lick his face. That is too close! You may trust your pet implicitly but you have not seen your dog’s reaction to having a baby in the house, a small, wriggling body, that smells different, that takes your time up. How can any parent place their baby onto their dog’s belly? We all read in the newspapers or watch the news about dog attacks. There was one only a few weeks ago in the UK, where the baby was killed, his older brother received life changing injuries and the mother was bitten too. This was a family dog, with no previous behaviour.
Dogs read body language differently, they’re unused to baby movements and noises. The baby may move suddenly or cry, enough to make the dog change from licking to biting leading to facial or eye trauma that will be life changing at the least.
Having read this blog, I hope you would be very cautious when your dog is around your baby. Whilst you will obviously trust your dog implicitly, you are expecting a creature with animal instinct to accept your baby and live harmoniously, which I am sure for most it does, but please don’t put your baby in danger, a sudden bite or nip and your baby could be scarred for life. Don’t let it lick your baby, let them acquire immunity in a natural way, without illness and upset.
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