The People's Perspective on Medicine

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?
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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My dog licks my feet and there not so cracked anymore!

I too have found that the dog licking my toes cures athletes foot much better than the cream the Doctor prescribed. The dog seems to enjoy it too. It is a win, win for both.

Ok. On the other hand (or foot). Can doggies licking feet actually CAUSE fungal foot infection?

Works better than any antifungal at no cost. I will continue this.

I think I’m gonna find me a dog (despite the objections of my cats) — because I adore all dogs, and because the idea of a foot-lick is fabulous!

If I had any kind of bad infection on my feet (which I’ve never had), I wouldn’t let the dog lick them, because that’d be downright disgusting for the poor dog!

Somewhat apropos of this topic, I’ve long heard that dogs’ saliva contains special bacteria-killing agents, which allow them to eat roadkill, garbage, etc., fairly safely. I’ve since heard that no, that’s not right…that their saliva is just as nasty as ours. HOWEVER, since I do love all dogs, I regularly kiss many, many dogs, letting them lick me right in the mouth. I do a daily walk around this lake in Seattle where MANY people walk their dogs. Carrying around the saliva of about 50 dogs in my mouth by the end of the walk, I never consider using mouthwash or even rinsing with water afterwards. And guess what? Never even a sniffle in all those years. Not one negative effect, ever. Just sayin’…

I haven’t had athlete’s foot since I was a child, but I wonder if your readers have had any success with soaking in a vinegar solution. When our daughter had trouble with some kind of foot infections that didn’t respond to the the pediatrician’s prescribed medications, he sent her to a dermatologist. The dermatologist recommended soaking in a vinegar solution, which cleared it up. (She also recommended changing socks in the middle of the day to keep the feet dry.)

have had an outbreak of psorasis on my ankles and my Mother’s dog would want to lick this area every time I went to visit….got to noticing that the area would clear up for several days….thought there might be something healing about this….

This needs to be scientifically investigated to isolate the curative agent in the dogs saliva.
Dog’s saliva is bacterial ridden,but not any more so than humans.
I recommend ACV to treat all your fungal infections,as well as the proper hygiene and appropriate socks and footwear for your particular climate.

Sounds very interesting to say the least, but I hate with a passion to be licked by any animal, which makes me think maybe I can just befriend someone with a dog that drools profusely and offer to buy his drool for a reasonable price!

What about letting dogs lick you on and in your face? They lick themselves, their private parts and (anus), is that ok or What?

However soothing it feels to owners of dogs ? to have them lick their feet, I personally think you need to discourage this if there is any kind of wound or infection on feet. Maybe their saliva has protective reaction, but their stomach/gut system is very sensitive. Dogs lick as reaction to a smell so probably feet smell good to them because of all the sweat.
Remember what goes in their mouths comes out eventually the other end.

If you have athlete’s foot or toenail fungus, your shoes, socks and shower are contaminated by fungal spores Common laundry Borax powder put in the shoes every couple of weeks inhibits the fungi and some borate is transferred to the socks and skin.

I agree to not let your dog lick your feet is you’ve got “full-blown” foot or toenail fungus. If your feet are ok and your dog wants to lick your feet – then I feel that’s o.k. – they’re just showing you they love you.

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