You could get sick letting your pet sleep with you.
Letting sleeping dogs lie in your bed can make you sick, research suggests. Pet owners may increase the chances of contracting everything from worms to the bubonic plague. Of the 250 known diseases transmitted from animals to humans, more than 100 of them come from domestic animals, researchers say.
‘In many countries, pets have become substitutes for childbearing and child care, sometimes leading to excessive pet care,’ said Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California school of veterinary medicine.
‘There are private places in the household, and pets should not go beyond next to the bed.
‘Having a stuffed animal in your bed is fine, not a real one.’
Among the more serious medical problems animal lovers risk by snuggling up to their pets are chagas disease, which can cause life- threatening heart and digestive system disorders.
Cat-scratch disease is another problem. It can come from being licked by infected felines, and can cause lethal damage to the liver, kidney or spleen.
A nine-year-old boy from Arizona even caught the plague because he slept with his flea-infested cat, according to the report. And a 48-year-old man and his wife repeatedly contracted antibiotic-resistant MRSA from their dog because it ‘routinely slept in their bed and frequently licked their faces’, the researchers said.
Prof Chomel and co-author Ben Sun, chief veterinarian for California’s health department, cited surveys from Britain, the U.S., France and Holland.
Their study, published in the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, also found several cases of infections transmitted through planting a kiss on a pet.
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 study also showed that most of the dogs allowed to sleep in beds were small, but 41 per cent were medium. One in three was large.
Professor Chomel added that although the cases were rare, he wanted to raise awareness.
Larry Kornegay, president of the American Veterinary Association, stressed that pet owners should use common sense to reduce risks.
Washing hands after playing with pets and keeping regular vet visits will help.
But he added: ‘The benefits of having a pet, whether or not you sleep with it, far outweigh the negatives, which are quite uncommon.’
Past medical studies have shown dogs and cats may lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and even decrease feelings of loneliness for their owners, for instance.
They can also increase opportunities for exercise and socialising.
Mr Kornegay said his email inbox is already full of people taking the study to task.
‘They tell me they’ve slept with their pets for years and they never got sick,’ he added.
Via Daily Mail