Second Chance: Safe Pet Snuggling

Second Chance: Safe Pet Snuggling

Many of my clients have close, loving relationships with their pets: they play, wrestle and even sleep with them. (Yes, I’m guilty too, my husband can barely fit in the king-sized bed after all the dogs get in…).  But that kind of closeness raises health questions and keeps some more at a distance from their pets. So I am offering a little education on what illnesses you can (and cannot) get from your pets so you can pet-snuggle away worry free.



Generally, viruses are species-specific. So if your pet gets Feline Leukemia, or Canine distemper your household is safe. There are exceptions to this — the most glaring one being rabies. Rabies can go from bat to dog to you in two little bites and if you don’t get treatment prior to the symptoms showing up, it is deadly. West Nile is another virus that is an exception to the rule. A mosquito can carry West Nile virus from your horse to you.

Now I am going to outline what you can contract from your pet. It may seem daunting and make you feel as though you never want your pet to touch you again, but keep in mind that is not the point of this information…

Bacteria generally do not discriminate by species. Salmonella is a big one which your pet can get from raw meat and pass that virulent bacteria out in his/her poop. Which means that fecal material and toys like balls and bones which roll through fecal matter, can pass Salmonella to you and your kids.

A cat bite can transfer the bacteria pasteurella multicida to your epidermal and dermal skin layers which almost always cause an abscess. E Coli is also an equal opportunity offender and is why petting zoos can even make children sick.

And there’s plague, the same bacteria that caused all those people in the Middle Ages to die. Just last year, four people in rural Colorado got infected with the pneumonic form of Plague via their prairie-dog-colony-romping dogs.

Parasites also manage to live in various species. Round worms, hook worms, whipworms, and tapeworms can all infect people as well as pets and barnyard animals. Households with young children should be vigilant about deworming all young animals (puppies and kittens) and any mature animals that kill wildlife. And of course Ticks are another concern as they carry the zoonotic (means people AND animals get it) diseases of Lyme and Ehrlichia.

So does this information mean that animals and humans should not co-exist in the same household or planet?   Of course not! It means that there are simple precautions you should observe in the same manner as there are when you navigate through the rest of the world.

Teach your kids to wash their hands after playing with animals (as you do after they play with other children or before meals, etc.). But most importantly, ensure your animals get regular check-ups and appropriate vaccinations. Check your animals for ticks and fleas after outings. Deworm puppies and kittens (this takes prescription medicine — the over the counter stuff is rarely effective) and any mature animals who kill or eat wildlife or venture near prairie dogs.

Milo, like all pets adopted through Second Chance, is healthy, vaccinated, and all love and hugs. The class clown, Milo is seeking a good-humored soulmate ready to let the good times roll. He is just over a year and would be a great hiking, walking, or running date. If you are looking for a great guy to keep you entertained and feeling loved forever, come meet Milo!

Editor’s note: It’s no secret. The Telluride region is dog heaven. Well, pet heaven. Unless you are one of our furry friends who gets caught in the maw of neglect and abuse. Then heaven is on hold until Second Chance Humane Society comes to the rescue. Second Chance is the region’s nonprofit dedicated to saving animals’ lives and promoting responsible pet parenting and human-animal bond. In her weekly blog, executive director Kelly Goodin profiles at least one, generally two of the many animals now living at the no-kill shelter, Angel Ridge Shelter, a dog and a cat, hoping to find them loving permanent homes. The column is sponsored by Ted Hoff of Cottonwood Ranch & Kennel, who from time to time exercises his skills as a dog whisperer, partnering with Kelly and her staff to help train a particularly challenging animal.

Ted Hoff & Mae

Ted Hoff &  Magnificent Mae


By the by, there is no better place to park your pup than Cottonwood whenever you head out of town (for locals) or are heading to town and staying somewhere that does not allow pets. Consider joining Ted’s Very Important Dog (VID) Club for added benies. (Details on Ted’s website.)

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shop are both located in Ridgway, but service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View the shelter pets and services online:

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