Do you allow your pets to sleep in bed with you? If you do, it may be bad for your health, according to a study published in the February issue of the CDC’s journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The study details examples of people who contracted health problems, like parasites, meningitis and even worse diseases by sleeping in the same bed with their pets. For instance, in one case, a boy developed the plague after he shared his bed with his flea-infested cat, as fleas are notorious for carrying this disease. Another case details a 60-year-old British woman who got meningitis after kissing her dog.
This could be a problem for many pet parents. An estimated 21% to 33% of the 60 million pet dogs in the US sleep on or in their family’s beds and 60% of the 75 million cats do the same, as reported in a recent Los Angeles Times article.
But before we start kicking Fido and Fluffy out of our beds, veterinary experts weighing in on the issue reassure pet parents that while there is a risk, the likelihood of contracting a bad disease is extremely rare.
In fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) President Dr. Larry Kornegay tells MSNBC, “I’ve been in practice for 40 years and I see the bond between people and their pets and the positive effects pets can have on humans, which I believe outweighs any risk, whether you sleep with a pet or not.”
The AVMA doesn’t have a formal recommendation when it comes to pets sleeping in human beds. Instead, the association advises pet parents to take their dogs and cats to the veterinarian for regular wellness exams, vaccinations and dental care. The association also encourages pet parents to wash their hands often, especially after handling feces and before preparing food.
What do you think of this study? If you share your bed with pets, will you stop doing so based on these warnings?