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Should My Pet Sleep In My Bed?
By Dr. Justine Lee, Pet MD
Did you know that an estimated 14 to 62 percent of pet owners let their dogs or cats sleep on their beds?
Well, now we’re getting some grief on why we shouldn’t sleep with our pets. Emerging Infectious Diseases, in conjunction with the CDC, released an article called “Zoonoses in the Bedroom.” Zoonoses are diseases that animals can spread to people. In this article, they give a few scary examples: A man developed meningitis, which was possibly due to him allowing his dog to sleep under the covers with him and lick his hip replacement wound. In another case, a young boy got plague after having his flea-infested cat sleep him.
While this article appropriately discussed the risks of sleeping with pets, it’s important to keep in mind that some of these diseases are extremely rare … especially when you think about some of the 30+ million people who do so without any problems.
While I think it’s important to acknowledge these zoonotic risks, your danger lies more with that 2-legged person next to you! Personally, I love sleeping with my pets. They add more warm to the bed, they bond to me while I’m sleeping, and I simply feel closer to them when they are snuggling with me. I’m aware of the rare risks of sleeping with my pets. In fact, as we speak, my body is in the process of healing some 10-15 ringworm lesions… (but more about this horrible fungus in a later blog). Point is, if in exchange for pet-lovin’, it means that I have to smear tough-actin’ Tinactin on my ringworm lesions every few decades, I’ll take the risk.
What I do love about the article is this: First, it’s written by veterinarians who are experts in the field, and they admit that “the risk of getting sick from sleeping with, kissing, or being licked by pets is real, but the risk can be reduced by keeping pets healthy. Regular veterinary care is key to having a healthy pet and enjoying the benefits of pet ownership.” Agreed!
Bluntly: don’t exchange bodily fluids with your pets! Letting them lick at your wounds? Let’s use common sense here, folks!
When in doubt, check with your medical doctor and your veterinarian about the potential zoonootic risks (that means diseases your pet can spread to you and vice versa).
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