The attractive young American woman looked the picture of health in the TV news report. She has three dogs, and they are like family to her – so what could be more natural than for them to all snuggle up in her bed after an energetic day full of play? How could she say no to their cute little faces, after all? She might have found it easier, however, once she saw the shocking results of the TV team’s experiments. Indeed, their test results would have some serious implications for her health.
Dog lover Leah is a 19-year-old human mom to three playful pooches. What’s more, she loves her retriever, Kevin, and her poodles, Sashie and Charlie, to the point of distraction. So much so, in fact, that the young woman and her canine trio are rarely ever apart. She even lets her dogs sleep in her bed with her – practically on a nightly basis.
Leah admitted as much to the CBS-syndicated news magazine show Inside Edition when she was interviewed about her furry friends. She is not the only pet owner to curl up with her canine pals at the end of the day, either. Online pet resource Pet MD reported that as many as 79 percent of American dog owners do the same. Yet while it may be a very touching nightly gesture, could there be a downside to this habit? What else could the animals be bringing to the bed apart from cuddles and companionship?
That’s the question that the Inside Edition news team intended to answer. And in order to do so, the producers of the show dispatched presenter Lisa Guerrero to Leah’s home. They also enlisted Leah’s three dogs, Kevin, Sashi and Charlie. Leah’s furbabies would play an essential part, and each presented a paw to Guerrero.
The three dogs were shown in the yard, in the street and on Leah’s bed, where they had their paw pads swabbed with a medical cotton bud by the presenter. The results were subsequently sent off to a laboratory for analysis to see exactly what the dogs had picked up that day. Meanwhile, when Guerrero asked Leah what she thought the lab would find, the mutt mom confessed that she didn’t really know. But she did admit that she thought the results might not be good.
“It’s a little scary to think about,” Leah laughed. Of course, just testing one dog owner’s furbabies wouldn’t be fair, scientifically speaking. So Inside Edition found another volunteer, Shauna, who lives in a more built-up urban environment than Leah does. Shauna was shown walking her two little white woofers down a city street.
Shauna’s two miniature mutts – Scottie and Angel – also share a bed with their owner, so they were ideal candidates for the swab test. Furthermore, Inside Edition conducted an extra experiment with Shauna’s puppers.
“At Shauna’s apartment, we applied a fluorescent marker to track her dog’s paws,” Guerrero explained. “Then we turned off the lights and shined an ultraviolet light onto the floor.” And although the results of the experiment were perhaps not that surprising, they were most certainly illuminating – both literally and figuratively.
“Your dogs have been all over this apartment,” Guerrero told Shauna. “Look at the prints behind you – they’re everywhere,” the reporter said, indicating the fluorescent evidence all over the back of the couch. As for Shauna herself, she was stunned by just how many paw prints were shown covering her living space.
Next up was the great reveal. Guerrero held the dogs’ lab test results in her hand. And Leah was proven right with her prediction: the results were not good. In fact, what the lab turned up on their pets’ paws shocked both doggie moms. It was astonishing to learn just how many germs these five pooches had picked up while going about their daily business.
Inside Edition had perhaps let the cat out of the bag on the disquieting results by presenting them as the “Dirty Dog Paw Test,” mind you. Nevertheless, there was much more to come. Guerrero revealed the outcome for Leah’s dogs’ pads, starting with Kevin: the lab had picked up no less than ten different kinds of bacteria and two types of fungus on the retriever’s paws.
Next up were Shauna’s pair of pooches. These city slickers’ swab results came back with a similar number of germs discovered. Scottie presented seven bacteria strains and one fungus, while Angel had E. coli among the six different bacteria that she carried. Both Leah and Shauna seemed horrified by the report’s findings, then, and were visibly taken aback.
Next up were Shauna’s pair of pooches. These city slickers’ swab results came back with a similar number of germs discovered. Scottie presented seven bacteria strains and one fungus, while Angel had E. coliamong the six different bacteria that she carried. Both Leah and Shauna seemed horrified by the report’s findings, then, and were visibly taken aback.
In light of the shocking Inside Edition results, it appears vital that dog owners are aware of what kind of germs their canines are likely to carry… Diseases that are able to pass from animals to humans are called zoonoses. And these are not only communicated across the species barrier by bacteria, viruses and fungi, but also by parasites.
Alongside suffering from fleas, domestic pets can be affected by tapeworm and hookworm, which can cause a variety of health problems in humans and animals alike. Pets can also pass on ticks, which are able to cause serious conditions such as Lyme disease.
Even more worrying is the range of potentially serious zoonoses that the Dirty Dog Paw Test threw up. E. coli – a bacteria that causes food poisoning – was found on four out of five of the furbabies tested. There was also a bug found on Shauna’s dog Scottie which can cause pneumonia, urinary tract infections and even meningitis; plus, it can carry MRSA, which is resistant to antibiotics, and other Staphylococcus bacteria.
A lot of these illnesses can also be contracted through contact with a pet’s saliva. And another avenue is via animal feces – which is, of course, present on most dogs’ paws. So, bearing all of this in mind, how dangerous is spending the night with a four-legged friend? Surely it must be safe enough for a dog owner to allow their pet to share a human bed?
Well, if the Leahs and Shaunas of this world are careful, then there is thought to be very little harm in sharing a bed with a dog. But that’s not to say that animal experts recommend it. They do, however, advise those who can’t resist the temptation to make sure that all paws are clean before doggos get anywhere near the duvet. Vet and popular pet pundit Dr. Carol Osborne furthermore advises dog owners to use an even-split combination spray of water and rubbing alcohol to clean their furbabies’ feet.
In addition, the U.S. government agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some words of wisdom. The agency underlines the importance to canine carers of keeping their animals in tip-top condition. It is vital that mutt moms and dads keep their pets up to date with vaccinations and medical check-ups. Many canines act as enabling or therapy animals, while others are simply part of the family, so it’s only fair that we look after them – and in the process ourselves.
For their part, both Leah and Shauna are adamant that they are still going to sleep in the same bed as their beloved dogs. However, Shauna says that she is taking steps to reduce the risk of zoonoses. “[I’m going to use] baby wipes and then wash their feet, maybe,” she told Guerrero and the Inside Edition team. “But, yeah, they have to sleep with me. I can’t give that up,” she concluded.