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Can Sleeping with Your Pet Make You Sick?

Woman sleeping with pet dogSurveys taken through the years indicate that from 14 to over 60 percent of pet-owning Americans let Fluffy or Fido sleep in bed with them.

In an article titled ‘Zoonoses in the Bedroom’ which will appear in the February 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, co-author Bruno Chomel, a professor at the University of California-Davis school of veterinary medicine, asserts the practice can be dangerous.

For their article, Chomel and Ben Sun, chief veterinarian with the California Department of Public Health, compiled a list of possible pathogens that can be transmitted from your pet to you through close contact. Those diseases include:

According to Chomel, "The risk is rare, but when it occurs it can be very nasty, and especially in immuno-compromised people and the very young.”

Larry Kornegay, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), says infectious transmission of this type is “uncommon if not rare.” Kornegay recommends pet owners use common sense precautions like washing their hands after interacting with pets, and taking companion animals for regular vet wellness checkups.

Kornegay says, "… the benefits of having a pet, whether or not you sleep with it, far outweigh the negatives, which are quite uncommon."