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Should Your Dogs Lick Your Athlete’s Foot?

A reader who lets her dogs lick her feet does not suffer from athlete's foot. Is the dog saliva preventing this infection?
Should Your Dogs Lick Your Athlete’s Foot?
Two puppy chihuahua dogs smelling the feet of their boss

Sometimes, a home remedy is a bit too weird. Many people feel that way about an athlete’s foot remedy we heard about years ago: letting your dogs lick your feet.

Could Dogs Lick Athlete’s Foot?

Q. It’s been ten years since I have had any athlete’s foot problems. I’ve always wondered why, especially since my husband gets severe athlete’s foot pretty frequently. After reading your website, I think I have my answer.

Ten years ago I got my little Chihuahua Zena, and six years ago Zoey, another Chihuahua, joined us. They love licking my feet and I find it soothing.

Obviously, my husband has not shared in the relaxing experience of having two small dogs lick his feet. So being the wonderful wife and partner that I am, I can’t wait to show my loving husband the article that says dog saliva helps athlete’s foot. I think this would work best as a preventive measure and not to cure a severe outbreak.

Pros and Cons of Allowing Dogs to Lick Feet:

A. Nearly 20 years ago we received a letter from a reader about his uncle:

“When my uncle came home in the evenings, he would remove his shoes and socks and put his feet on a hassock while reading the paper. The dog always went to him immediately and licked his feet all over, especially between the toes. After about three months, he noticed that the athlete’s foot which had plagued him for most of his adult life had gone away!”

We warned readers not to allow dogs to lick skin with open wounds. That’s because they carry bacteria in their mouths that could cause infection.

We have also been scolded by a vet tech who said that licking people’s feet could make the dog sick. Because there are effective antifungal medications, we suggest you not rely on your pooch but rather on your pharmacy for effective athlete’s foot treatment.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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