Does Ruby Rose Put Her Health at Risk by Letting Pets into Bed?

by Patrick Mahaney on October 20, 2015

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News ruby-rose-pets-in-bed.lg column on Pet360.com as Does Ruby Rose Put Her Health at Risk by Letting Pets into Bed?

Does your choice of space to slumber also serve as a bed for your canine or feline companion?

According to the UK Daily MailOrange is the New Black’s Ruby Rose is a fan of letting her dogs and cat into bed while her fiancé, Phoebe Dahl, is less-than-approving of the behavior.

Rose took to Instagram to post a photo of her lounging in bed surrounded by two dogs and a cat with the caption, “she said no animals. I said … But I’m doctor Doolittle.” This post has 336,000 likes (so far). This statement implies that animals are naturally drawn to Rose, as Doctor Doolittle is a character in a series of books for children by Hugh Lofting. In The Story of Doctor Doolittle, Doctor John Doolittle is able to communicate with animals using language and ultimately prefers his non-human interactions to the point where he changes careers to become a naturalist.

As a veterinarian, I understand this perspective, but it’s also important to be able to effectively communicate with people in order to successfully navigate our world. In my case, I have to be able to discuss important aspects of my patients’ health with their owners, so verbal and non-verbal communications are key aspects to me effectively doing my job.

Steering back to Rose, Dahl, and the pets in the bed discussion. I’m curious why Dahl disapproves of animals in their bed. Could it be because she doesn’t like dog or cat hair? Are there concerns about the spread of diseases between pets and people? In 2011, I wrote an article in response to a highly-publicized USA Today story that covered the health risks that can arise as a result of sharing bed space with an animal companion.

According to Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the spread of a variety of infectious organisms is associated with close contact occurring when pets to sleep in our beds. Chomel states, “there are private places in the household, and I think our pets should not go beyond next to the bed.” Chomel’s message shows concern for greater interests of public health, as fatal diseases can follow zoonotic transmission (or transfer between different species) from a pet to a person. These diseases include bubonic plague, which is caused by Yersinia pestis (a bacterium), and Chagas disease, which is caused by Trypanosoma Cruzi (a protozoan).

A fearsomely named example of a zoonotic disease commonly known in veterinary medicine is Cat Scratch Disease(CSD), which is caused by Bartonella sp. (a bacterium), and can be transferred through the bite or scratch of a cat harboring Bartonella (which can be transmitted through the bite of a blood-thirsty flea). I’ve had a client reportedly infected with CSD from her cat, which is more concerning in individuals suffering from immune system-compromising conditions including pregnancy, cancer, and HIV. People with normally functioning immune systems are less prone to developing the disease when scratched or bitten by a Bartonella-positive cat.

The paws and mouths of our cats and dogs are dirty places potentially teeming with infectious organisms and are valid concerns associated with letting your pet lounge on your bed or lick your skin. Consider the fact that your cat steps into her soiled litter box a few times every day then covers his feces and urine post-production. Additionally, a dog is behaviorally prone to eating feline (and other species’) feces, licking his anus, is unable to brush his own teeth, and regularly picks up that tennis ball or toys which sit in fecal-contaminated soil common in most dog parks.

For many owners, keeping their pets off of the bed is unavoidable. Fortunately, using good sanitary habits can reduce the spread of zoonotic diseases. These include:

- Never letting a pet to lick your face, especially directly on the lips or in the mouth.

- Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water after touching a pet.

- Regularly grooming your pet (bathing, brushing, etc.) and restricting your pet’s access to dirty environments to keep the fur from collecting bacteria, parasites, etc.

- Minimizing external parasite infestation on your pet by using topical or oral species-appropriate veterinary products.

- Reducing your pet’s levels of oral cavity bacteria through daily home dental care using a soft-bristles toothbrush or a cleansing wipe.

- Vacuuming all rugs, upholstery, floors, and other surfaces (and disposing of the canister or bag into a sealed receptacle) and washing all human and animal bedding at least every seven days.

These are all common-sense aspects of pet care that we, as owners, occasionally take for granted and need to be reminded to avoid otherwise preventable human health problems. Hopefully, Rose and Dahl will take measures to keep their bed a safe place for both humans and pets, or, the pets will get their own bed space adjacent to their owners’ slumbering spot.

Do you let your pet into your bed? If so, have you ever been contracted a parasite, bacteria, or other ailment associated with your pet’s presence? Feel free to leave your comments below.

Thank you for reading this article.  Your constructive comments are welcome (although I may not respond).
Please follow my adventures in veterinary medicine and life via:
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Copyright of this article (2015) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

 

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