Bed sharing with your pets

IN THE DOG HOUSE: Vets don’t recommend bed sharing. Photo credit: Twitter

It’s been reported that up to 79 per cent of pet owners allow pets to share beds with their human family members. Despite the popularity of the practice, physician and veterinary groups have taken turns speaking out against human-pet bed sharing for a variety of reasons.

In the case of some physician groups, the warnings are human health based. Confirmed transmission of MRSA skin infections and H1N1 influenza, for example, gives fodder to the speculation that humans who share the covers with their furred family members are more likely to become ill.

While this is certainly more of a possibility with immunosuppressed humans (HIV-positive, transplant recipients, or chemotherapy patients, for example), there are no explicit warnings on this issue beyond the standard warnings for these groups of people.

In fact, when it comes to infectious disease transmission, physicians and veterinarians agree there is scant evidence that healthy, well cared for pets are detrimental to human health under these circumstances. Indeed, human family members are much more likely to transmit diseases to each other during bed-sharing than our pets are.

Some veterinarians also believe that allowing dogs to sleep on human beds is a not a good thing, behaviourally speaking. Puppies that are more prone to issues with aggression may fully develop these behaviours when allowed to sleep with humans.

To reduce the health risks associated with bed sharing and other close contact with a pet, the CDC recommends that pets have regular veterinary care. This should include keeping up to date with vaccinations, treating illnesses with medications, and using flea and tick preventives, since often fleas and ticks carry bacteria and diseases that can also be transmitted to people.

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