I know several families where Fido is allowed in BED with the family but they may change that policy after reading a new study in the February issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the public health journal of the Centers for Disease Control.
While pets provide many positive health effects, Bruno Chomel, a professor of zoonoses at University of California Davism, found that sleeping with your pet increases your chances of contracting bugs and diseases ranging from worms to the bubonic plague.
In fact, of the 250 known diseases transmitted from animals to humans, more than 100 of them come from domestic animals, researchers say.
“ ‘It can happen,’ (Chomel) said. ‘It’s rare when it happens and it can be bad. It’s not told to panic people or scare people, but to be aware there are things that can happen.’ ”
“Chomel and co-author Ben Sun looked through published literature about cases in which people’s illnesses correlated with sleeping, kissing or being licked by pets.”
“Some of examples are startling:
– A man had a dog sleep under the covers with him. The dog licked his hip replacement wound and the owner got meningitis.
– A 9-year-old boy slept in bed with a flea-infested cat and got the bubonic plague in 1974 in New Mexico.
– A newborn was sickened with meningitis. The pet cat had stolen the baby’s pacifier and had been toying with it.
– A 44-year-old woman developed meningitis and admitted that she was “regularly kissing the dog’s face and feeding it by transferring food mouth to mouth.”
In a survey from the American Kennel Club, 21 percent of dog owners said they regularly slept with their dogs.”
‘In many countries, pets have become substitutes for childbearing and child care, sometimes leading to excessive pet care,’ said Chomel … ‘There are private places in the household, and pets should not go beyond next to the bed.
So how many owners are sleeping with their pets?
Well the Daily Mail reports that “among dog owners, 53 per cent considered their pet to be a member of the family, while 56 per cent of them admitted they sleep with their dog next to them.”
“Up to 62 per cent of cat owners said their pets sleep either on or in their beds.”
“And some 25 per cent of women admit to sleeping regularly with a pet, while just 16 per cent of men say they do.”
The very first night we found our little Shih Tzu, he cried and cried in the kitchen so I came down and slept next to him on the kitchen floor to comfort him. (I had bathed him as soon as we found him but I kept thinking all night I was getting fleas on me.)
Over the last seven years, he has moved up to sometimes sleeping in his bed on the floor of our bedroom but never, ever, ever in anyone’s bed. Why don’t I want my cute little doggie in my bed or the kids’ beds?
Here’s why I DON’T allow my little 15-pound dog to sleep in our bed:
1. I’ve watched my dog eat poop – sometimes his own, sometimes another dog’s. Either way it’s gross and no poop-eater is licking my face or sleeping with me. (It’s just a rule everyone should have.)
2. I’m grossed out when he drags his butt across my carpet thinking about all the gross poopy germs he’s leaving behind much less thinking that poopy butt between my sheets. (I know why he does it – when his anal gland needs attention and I always have the groomer work on that area – but it is just so gross.) If my kid dragged his poopy butt across my carpet I would be upset about that too!
3. I already have three kids climbing in and out of bed with me. I certainly don’t need to add another body to that mix.
(My husband would like to add in that our dog throws up more than any other member of our family. That’s not good either.)
I will sit on the couch and hold my dog and love him but I always wash my hands right after and won’t wear those same clothes into bed.
So what’s happening at your house? Are you or the kids sleeping with the dog or cat? Have you ever worried before about catching bugs or diseases from your pet? Will you worry now? Will this study changes your dog/cat sleeping habits?