As Dogsters very well know, research has shown that dogs can be highly beneficial to our health. What better than physical contact with a pet to alleviate stress, decrease blood pressure, increase immune function, and just make you happy? If petting a dog by day can bring on all these great benefits, it’s only logical that having your dog at your side as you sleep must be really good for you.
Not so, say some scientists.
While most experts don’t deny that dogs can be great for you, a study being published next month in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Emerging Infectious Disease says pets can be downright hazardous to your health if they share your bed.
“…the risk for transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners through bed sharing, kissing or licking is real and has even been documented for life-threatening infections such as plague, internal parasites” and other serious diseases, report the authors of the study, both veterinarians.
With more than half of dog and cat owners ‘fessing up to letting their pets sleep in bed with them, you’d think people would be dropping like flies if this research were correct. But it turns out that the risks are slim, and are generally limited to children and the immunocompromised.
It’s actually cats who transmit most of the nasty things out there, the study’s authors say. A good post on AOL News cites the case of a 9-year-old boy from Arizona who got the plague because he slept with his flea-infested cat.
But dogs have been blamed for transmitting their share of diseases and infections while sharing a bed with people. The AOL article points to a 48-year-old man and his wife repeatedly contracted MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Their physicians attributed this to their dog, who slept in their bed and licked their faces routinely.
The AOL article is worth reading if you want more details. We’d love you to bark back and tell us what you think about this pronouncement, Dogsters. Does your dog sleep in your bed? Are you still alive? Please share your experiences.
I hope that when the study is published, it doesn’t get blown out of proportion by the popular press and cause people to start kicking their beloved pets out of bed. Flea control and hand (face?) washing can probably go a long way to reducing whatever risk there may be.
(Disclaimer: Jake does not sleep in our bed. He would take up most of it, and he “runs” in his sleep far more than the average dog. But, gross as it is, he’ll occasionally lick you in the mouth if you happen to be talking close to his face. It’s pretty icky to opening your mouth to say something and having a dog tongue go in your mouth for a split second. I think the cringing makes Jake laugh… The point is, even with this yucky “habit,” we have not gotten horrible diseases. And I include a child in the mix. HBU, Dogsters?)
(A big thanks to Cindy R, of Newport, R.I., for letting me know about this study!)