Bacteria. We have it, and our pets have it. To find out if we should share our beds with our dogs and welcome slobbery dog kisses, read the latest research on people, dogs, and germs.

We do it too. We let our pups lick our faces, sleep in our beds, sometimes even share our snacks. Surveys show nearly half of all dog owners share food with their dogs, and more than half allow the dog to sleep in the bed and lick them on the face. But can doggie germs really make us sick? According to a recent study from the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine, we’re in the clear as long as we wash our hands after petting our pups.

The research showed that bonding behaviors like sharing bedding and letting our dogs lick our faces had no association with an increase in shared E. coli bacteria, upon which the study centered on and can sometimes make both people and dogs sick. “People have it, dogs have it, and it normally doesn’t cause any problems,” said Dr. Kate Stenke, the K-State Clinical professor who supervised the study. “But it can acquire genes to make it antibiotic resistant.” That’s why hand washing is especially important for keeping everybody healthy. The research showed a link between antibiotic-resistant E. coli and owners who didn’t wash their hands after petting their pups and handling food.

So go ahead, snuggle up, get doggie kisses, now you’ve got proof – these behaviors aren’t more likely to spread your dog’s germs after all.

The Scoop:

The results of this research were released late last month and the study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of American Journal of Veterinary Research.

See an overview of the research from Dr. Kate Stenske, clinical assistant professor at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Thank you to Ezra and Putney for the photo.

Originally published February 2009; reviewed and updated July 2016.