Everyone has nightmares about bedbugs,but your bed pets may be the real danger. A growing number of Americans spend their nights snuggled up with their dogs.
‘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.
Surveys indicate that up to 79 percent of all dog owners allow their pooches to sleep in the bed with them at night.
Sharing our resting hours with our pets may be a source of psychological comfort, but sharing is also associated with risks. According to a study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the risks to your health include everything from internal parasites to the bubonic plague. Yes, that bubonic plague, as well as more common (but no less scary) maladies such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or meningitis. It’s one of many, along with hookworm, roundworm, MRSA, rabies, Chagas disease, Pasteurella, cat scratch fever, Capnocytophaga, Cryptosporidium and Cheyletiella.
The bacteria you could pick up from your pets fall into two main categories – those ingested by your pets and those already living in or on them.
The first category includes some of the nastier bugs such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. These do not usually cause illness in your pets (although they may), but will be shed in their faeces and can cause quite severe gastro-type illness in humans.
The other problematic bacteria are those that live naturally on your pets without causing them harm (called commensal bacteria), but which may cause infection or disease in humans.The most famous and troublesome example of these bugs is probably Staphylococcus.
Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Louisville, Ky., says people who suffer from pet allergies or asthma should not sleep with their dog or cat or even allow them in the bedroom.
“In Australia, septicemia and multi-organ failure developed in a 48-year-old woman after her fox terrier puppy licked a minor burn wound on the top of her left foot.
“A case of meningitis caused by P. multocida in a 60-year-old housewife living in the United Kingdom was reported. She admitted to regularly kissing the family dog.
“A 60-year-old patient with chronic eczema died of septic shock and renal failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation caused by C. canimorsus. The ulcerous chronic eczema of his legs was the most probable port of entry for the organism because his dog used to lick his legs.”
“A 48-year-old man with diabetes and his wife had recurrent MRSA infections. Culture of nares samples from the family dog grew mupirocin-resistant MRSA that had a PFGE chromosomal pattern identical to the MRSA isolated from the patient’s nares and his wife’s wound. The couple reported that the dog routinely slept in their bed and frequently licked their faces.
Persons, especially young children or immuno compromised persons, should be discouraged from sharing their bed with their pets or regularly kissing their pets.
Although uncommon with healthy pets, the risk for transmission of zoonotic agents by close contact between pets and their owners through bed sharing, kissing or licking is real and has even been documented for life-threatening infections.
If your dog is used to sleeping in your bed, it will be very difficult to wean him off this habit, Start by placing a bed just for the dog on your bed and encouraging him to sleep in it for a week or so. Then try moving it to the floor next to the bed.If he jumps on the bed, tell him ‘no’ and gently put him back on the floor. This may take several repetitions. If that fails, but you still want him in the room, try keeping him in a crate so he stays contained. Give him toys or a bone to help keep him occupied and content.Making this adjustment can take a lot of work and dedication.
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