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Foot Health: Don’t let your dogs go to the dogs! Their saliva won’t cure athlete’s foot

By Dr. Nicole G. Freels
KyForward columnist

Pets love to dig in the dirt and roll in the grass, and they have been known eat anything with a foul odor… even road kill (gross!). Therefore, it is pretty easy to guess that the actions of your furry friend may end up giving you bacteria, ringworm and fungus. It is easy to transmit because ringworm spores can lurk on a dog’s coat or muzzle.

1 Myth Dog Saliva

Every year, 2 million people are infected with ringworm contracted from their pets and with a fungus similar to jock itch or athlete’s foot. Weird, right?

Well, it gets even weirder- there have been documented cases in which people claim that their pets can cure this fungus by licking the infected areas! That’s right, people let their animals lick their feet and other infected areas to help “cure” themselves. While dog saliva does have some antifungal properties, it is NOT a good idea for your pet to lick away your fungal infections. Pets also carry bacteria in their mouths, which could be detrimental to your health if you have open sores or cracked skin for the bacteria to fill, making your condition worse.

It is nice to know that your sweet pup or kitty senses your health concerns, but if you want your pets to stay healthy, DO NOT let them lick your fungus! In the same way that pets can transmit fungus, ringworm and bacteria to us, we can transmit it back to them. It is not sanitary and puts your pets at risk.

If you find yourself with athlete’s foot, seek help from a podiatrist to knock it out effectively. It would also be a good idea for you to clean your shower thoroughly and invest in a shoe sanitizer, like Mycomist, that can kill fungi in contaminated shoes.

If you happen to notice your pet licking his or her paws excessively, it might be time to take a trip to the veterinarian.

Dr. Nicole G. Freels is a foot doctor at Lexington Podiatry and the Kentucky Heel Pain Center.

For more Foot Health columns, click here.

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  1. Marcel LeClerc says:

    My dog takes care of my athletes foot better than any antifungal. Been 8 years and works like a charm

  2. Ashley D Dillon says:

    I too let my dog lick my fungus, yet now I noticed he has been excessively licking his own paws and just licking a lot in general is it something to be concerned with and what could it be?

  3. Cee Gee says:

    I suffered from chronic athletes foot for greater than 20 years. I was on several treatments from multiple physicians that included oral and topical medications and it continued to plague me. The constant itching and burning was terrible.
    Last year we adopted a neglected Pit-Bull and he was immediately loved in our home. As soon as I would come home for work I would rush to remove my shoes and socks to tend to my itchy feet. I noticed my dog would wrestle me to get to my feet. It was more than curiosity for him. It was like his mission to lick my feet and toes. His persistence and eagerness to lick my toes was undeniable. I googled it and learned how others claimed it healed them without harm to their dogs. Intrigued by the “cure” I obliged my dogs natural instinct. Within 2 weeks I noticed a remarkable improvement. 6 weeks later it was COMPLETELY gone. It’s been almost 2 years and my toes are completely healed. No more scaly, itching, or inflamed skin! It’s 100 gone.
    Mother Nature has a way and I’m not questioning it. Funny note. My dog rarely licks my feet and never has licked others in my family. They really do know us well.

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