Many people see their pets as part of the family, and it can seem just natural to allow them to sleep in the same beds as the humans. But people should be aware that there can be disease risks linked to this behaviour with some medical experts believing that pets just don’t belong in your bed.
A recent academic study titled “Zoonoses in the Bedroom” listed examples of pets making people ill after sharing a bed.
Examples included a 9-year-old Arizona boy who developed plague after sleeping with his flea-infested cat and a 60-year-old British woman who contracted meningitis after repeatedly kissing the family dog. It’s been said that around 60% of all human pathogens could have been transmitted by an animal.
So should people ban pets from the bedroom?
There are many benefits from close relationships with pets, including reduced blood pressure, easing of stress and better psychological health. It’s rare for disease to be picked up from an animal, and if sensible precautions are taken, the risk can be kept to a minimum.
First, people who are at greatest risk of picking up an illness should be especially careful: the young, elderly, and those whose immune systems are compromised, such as transplant patients, diabetics and people who are HIV-positive. Also, if you suffer from animal related allergies, obviously pets should not be in the bedroom.
Second, a healthy pet is much less likely to pass on any disease than a sick pet. Make sure that your pet has an annual health check: as well as ensuring that the animal is healthy, your vet will be able to discuss issues such as vaccinations, parasite control and dental care. In particular, regular worming and flea control is important if your pet is going to be sleeping near you.
Third, basic hygiene helps a lot. Wash your hands with soap and running water if you’ve done anything yucky like poop scooping, and wash your hands if you’ve handled your pet and you’re preparing food. Wash bites and scratches immediately. Try to prevent pets from drinking from toilet bowls. And carry out regular poop scoop missions around your back garden.
You should not share a bed with a pet if:
- You are very young or elderly
- You have immune system issues
- You suffer from animal related allergies
To prevent health issues with pets in your bed:
- Make sure that your pet is in full health at all times
- Use strict regular parasite control for fleas and worms
- Visit the vet for a once yearly full health check
- Wash your hands before preparing food