Amarillo, TX - For pet owners like Andrea Patton, she and her husband consider their dogs to be like their own kids.
"I love to kiss them, I love to hug them," Patton said. "We have a really great relationship with our pets and I think that our lives would be completely different if we didn't have them in our lives."
Like many pet owners, Andrea loves to shower her dogs with affection.
"All I have to do is say 'kissy, kissy' and she'll jump up and she'll jump up, wherever I am, and kiss my mouth and I loves it, I love it," Patton said.
However, when pet owners are not careful, they can be harmed by a bacteria living inside dogs' and cats' mouths. It is called Pasteurella Multocida.
"It can vary anywhere from a mild bacteria that doesn't cause very many problems. It just lives in the nose, throat, lungs, whatever, of the animal," Amarillo veterinarian, Dr. Pearson, explained. "All the way up to strains that cause major problems, uh, pneumonia, tonsilitis, tooth infections, brain infections... it can kill ya."
50 to 95 percent of dogs and cats carry a strain of it in their nose and mouths.
"If I cultured all these dogs I know I'd find it somewhere in some of these dogs. It's a very common one," Pearson said.
Veterinarians warn affectionate pet owners to be careful.
"If you have cuts on your hand and your dog licks on them, you're very likely to pick up a Pastuerella infection or some other infection," Pearson said. "I mean, dog mouths aren't clean. That's a myth."
Most of the time, a good immune system is protection enough. Still, vets warn to keep clean, just in case, animal lovers, like Andrea, can agree.
"I just think it's a good rule of thumb, no matter what you're doing, to be clean." Patton said. "You know? Pets are not."
"Pastuerella Multocida is not always a train wreck but is something that can become one," Pearson said. "So, there's always things out there but common sense and good hygiene goes a long way in keeping you healthy."