By Dr. Justine Lee, PetMD
Did you know that an estimated 14 to 62 percent of pet owners let their dogs or cats sleep on their beds? In my book†Itís a Dogís Life … but Itís Your Carpet, I explain why this is OKÖ
Donít worry ó youíre not the only one out there who lets that muddy-pawed monstrosity jump on your bed. Over thirty-one million people in the US do it, too. Thatís almost 56% of pet owners! So why do so many otherwise sane and clear-headed adults let their hound-dogs have their way? Well, while Cliffy, Fido, and Fluffy may shed, hog the covers, drool, dream, and snore while in bed, theyíll never leave your bedside or cheat on you! And Iíve got to say, dogs can be awfully snuggly, like a full body pillow with a built-in heater, which helps during long Minnesota winters. And Iím speaking from experience here.
Well, now weíre getting some grief on why we†shouldnít 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, itís important to keep in mind that some of these diseases are extremely rare Ö especially when you think about some of the 30+ million people who do so without any problems.
While I think itís 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 Iím sleeping, and I simply feel closer to them when they are snuggling with me. Iím aware of therare risks of sleeping with my pets. In fact, as we speak, my body is in the process of healing some 10-15 ringworm lesionsÖ (but more about this horrible fungus in a later blog). Point is, if in exchange for pet-loviní, it means that I have to smear tough-actiní Tinactin on my ringworm lesions every few decades, Iíll take the risk.
What I do love about the article is this: First, itís 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: donít exchange bodily fluids with your pets! Letting them lick at your wounds? Letís use common sense here, folks!
Next page: situations where I donít recommend sleeping with your pet