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Cuddle up with your dog—but wash your hands, too!

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These days, if it's not worry about the economy, it's worry about our health. The news is full of stories about superbugs and new illnesses—never mind the flu and other common viruses. One piece of positive news stands out—our pets can continue to offer comfort against these worries.

Recent research from Kansas State University veterinarian Dr. Kate Stenske shows that dog owners who sleep with their dogs or allow them to lick their faces are not at increased risk of sharing E. coli bacteria germs. However, the research did reveal an association with antibiotic-resistant E. coli for dog owners who don't wash their hands after caring for their dogs or before working with food.

Since more than half of the survey respondents in Dr. Stenske's study shared beds with their dogs or allowed face licks from them, it's certainly good news that the psychological advantages of this bonding can be preserved without increased risk. But it's imperative to remember the following important and longstanding advice: wash your hands often and finish every course of prescribed antibiotics.

Dr. Kate Stenske's research is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research. You can read the full press release from Kansas State University here.

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Marie Clougher is the managing editor at Pen and Press, an editorial services and consulting company. She contributes to Karen Pryor Clicker Training in many behind-the-scenes capacities.