On a new episode, Dr. Oz explains how our pet’s bad habits may be exposing us to harmful bacteria

By Amy Jamieson
Updated March 21, 2011 11:45 AM

When was the last time you kissed your dog? And we mean really kissed – as in, you let your pooch lay a wet one on your lips. On Monday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Dr Oz gives you and the woman above, with her dog Nadia, a clear warning: this type of behavior can make you sick.

“Typically puppy kisses are fine, but if your pooch is a scavenger, then a canine lick on the lips could jeopardize your health,” Dr. Oz tells “The half-eaten hot dog your dog found on the street – or the feces he was nibbling on – could be loaded with germs and bacteria such as toxocara, salmonella, giardia, hookworm, tapeworm and many others, putting your family’s health at risk.”

This doesn’t mean you have to stop showing your pet affection, Dr. Oz says. Kisses on the cheek should be fine. But some of your pet’s bad habits – like cats walking on kitchen countertops or sleeping in your bed – could be hurting you.

“If you accidentally ingest that fecal matter, you can get sick,” he explains. “Now, we all know not to eat animal poop, but the fact of the matter is, often fecal matter can be places we least expect, and virtually undetectable! For example, if your cat runs around outside and happens to step in feces, and you let him run across your kitchen counter, you could put yourself at risk for having the bacteria from that fecal matter reach your food, and eventually your stomach.”

In general, Dr. Oz says the best way to assure your pet doesn’t get you sick is to follow some simple precautions: always wash your hands after playing with your pet (especially before eating!), and don’t let your pet rummage through trash cans or raw meat. It’s a great idea to clean your pet’s paws after they are outside, try to keep them off surfaces where you prepare food, and always make yearly trips to the vet to make sure your pet is up to date on all his vaccinations and medications.

Learn more ways that we can have a healthier bond with our pets on Monday’s episode of The Dr. Oz Show. Check your local listings for airtimes.

Click here to read more about Dr. Oz and his dog Rosie!