Is It Safe To Let Sleeping Dogs Lie In Your Bed

January 26, 2011

Photo of Cardiff Sleeps On My Pillow As Often As He Can

Do you sleep in bed with your dog? Have you ever considered the possibility you may get sick from sharing your personal bed space with your canine companion. What about your pet getting sick from you?

USA Today recently featured the article Sleeping next to pets could be harmful, study says by Elizabeth Weise. In the article, Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine notes that close contact, such as that which occurs when pets sleep in our beds, could contribute to the spread of a variety of infectious organisms. According to Chomel, “there are private places in the household, and I think our pets should not go beyond next to the bed”.

Chomel notes Bubonic plague (caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis), Chagas disease (brought on by the protozoan Trypanosoma Cruzi) and cat scratch disease (caused by the bacteria Bartonella sp.) as the diseases that could follow zoonotic (transfer between different species) transmission from a pet to a person.

In my 10 years of veterinary practice, I have only had a single client report infection with one of the above diseases. A woman with a compromised immune system had been infected with cat scratch disease. I am unsure as to if she was sharing her bed space with your cat, but her doctor determined that she was infected by the skin trauma caused by her cat’s claws (declaw anyone?…kidding).

I have to consider the converse of the argument that we humans are at risk from our pets. How about the risks our pets face from contact with humans?

I never thought 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) could be transmitted from a person to their pet. I then found myself writing H1N1 virus found in a feline and ferrets, followed by:
H1N1 infects second feline
H1N1 Kills Oregon Cat
Los Angeles Cat is California’s First Confirmed 2009 H1N1 Virus Infection in Domestic Feline
Swine Flu Infects Dogs in China
First US Canine 2009 N1N1 Infection Confirmed in New York

Even if we train our pets to sleep next to our bed on the floor, they still could be exposed to a variety of dangers lurking in the confines of our bedroom. Have you ever considered the potential health hazards your sleeping pills, ear plugs, or glass of water you keep on your bedside stand could pose to your pet? Well, I did and wrote Pet Care 101- Is Your Bedroom Safe for Your Pet. Read it, then organize your bedroom in a fashion to promote harmony among species.

In general, using good sanitary habits can help to keep you from catching a disease from your pet. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water after touching your pet. Practice regular grooming habits to keep pathogens off of your pet’s fur. Don’t let your pet lick your face (especially no french kissing!). Minimize external parasite infestation on your pet by using topical or oral species-appropriate veterinary products. Finally, vacuum your home (and empty the canister or throw away the bag far from your house) and wash all bedding on a weekly basis.

These are all common sense things of which we occasionally need to be reminded their importance.

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Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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