Warning for dog owners: Letting your pet lick your face could lead to superbug spreading

West Country: Petsure hosts inclusive 'Paralympics for dogs'

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Experts from the Royal Veterinary College have said pet owners should wash their hands after stroking their dog or picking up their faeces.

Furthermore, they ask that people do not let their pet lick their plate.

The reason for this is to stop the potential spread of a superbug that, evidence suggests, could be spread from cats and dogs to humans.

Scientists are expressing these concerns as some of these superbugs are resistant to antibiotics.

The bugs in question spread from the pets to the owners via the pet their licking their owners’ face after it has licked its bottom beforehand.

Scientists conducted a study of stool samples from dogs, cats, and people and discovered numerous “bacteria of concern.”

They found one cat, 14 dogs, and 15 humans were positive for the drug resistant bacteria E. coli.

These bacteria are known to be resistant to penicillin.

Dr Julianna Menezes, author of the study, said risk factors included “kissing, licking the owner’s face, or eating from the owner’s plate.”

Dr Menezes added: “Although the level of sharing from the households we have studied is low, healthy carriers can shed bacteria into their environment for months, and they can be a source of infection for other more vulnerable people and animals such as the elderly and pregnant women.

“Previous studies have linked the close contact factors between pets and their owners to the sharing of bacteria (whether resistant or not). These risk factors include kissing, licking the owner’s face or eating from the owner’s plate.

“To reduce the spread of these bacteria within the household, it would be necessary to reduce this close relationship between the owners and their pets, and also to have greater hygiene practices.”

Meanwhile, Britons are being encouraged to try a controversial new animal as a pet.

The RSPCA is trying to change the reputation of the rat by recommending them as pets to the UK population.

Famous for spreading the plague, rats have not enjoyed the best reputation in recent years.

Now the RSPCA has said they are “sociable, intelligent, and friendly” and as a result, would make excellent companions.

Rat Welfare expert Dr Jane Tyson added: “Rats are incredibly intelligent animals who can be trained to count, fetch a ball and high-five a human.

“Some have even been trained to safely locate landmines in war zones so that they can be removed.

“Sadly, rats have a bad reputation for being dirty animals but this is not the case. Rats are actually very clean animals and will spend hours grooming themselves.

“They are also intelligent and highly sociable, forming strong bonds with other rats and with their human companions. They certainly don’t deserve their bad reputation.”

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