Beware of the Bacteria in Bed!
By: Clara Perez
Fifty percent of Americans share their beds with household pets but many may not be aware of the risks, and how they stack up against the benefits.
We all know the “feels” that arise when we’re snuggled up in our warm beds and we see our cat or dog curled up on the cold, hard floor.
Many of us take this opportunity to care for our pets the way we would any beloved child, by inviting them into our beds to spend the night.
While sharing your sleeping space with your pet may seem like the right thing to do, there are some facts we should all know first.
Numerous studies have shown bacterial transmission from pets to people when sharing close quarters.
This bacteria can cause zoonoses, infections and/or diseases transmitted directly from animals to humans under natural conditions.
Sharing a bed with a pet is one example of a close-contact, favorable condition in which zoonoses are transmitted.
Bacteria themselves can come in contact with any pet owner via physical injury like bites and scratches, inhalation, contact with urine and faecal-oral ingestion.
A pet owner may be unaware of traces of urine or fecal matter still left behind on a pet after the animal defecates or after the pet has spent a long period of time outdoors.
When inviting that pet into your bedroom, you run the risk of inviting that unwanted bacteria.
While your beloved pets may be breeding grounds for some human transmittable infections, awareness and proper hygienic practices can lower risks to almost none.
Precautions like recognizing when your dog or cat is ill, not sharing a space with them during those times, or bathing your pet after a long day spent roaming outside before snuggling in bed, are a few simple ways to lower any risks.
Also, whenever your pet is in contact with other animals, especially livestock, proper cleaning and a possible vet visit should be in order before you allow them to hop into the bed again.
Veterinarians are also being urged to inform new and existing pet owners about the best practices when it comes to commonly shared spaces in a household.
Upon in-depth investigation, researchers have come to the conclusion that pet owners with asthma or who are immunocompromised, should take serious precaution when sharing close quarters with their pets.
However, pet owners in good health can breathe a little easier when it comes to the subject.
Despite the risks of sharing the bed with your pet, research shows the benefits can also outweigh those risks.
Owners who do not suffer from any condition that may be exacerbated by the presence of an animal, tons of health benefits can be reaped.
Sleeping with a pet can give you comfort whether it’s the warmth of their body or their rhythmic breathing.
This comfort can promote calmness and stress relief before and while falling asleep, which can help for more restful nights.
For owners who struggle with anxiety, sleeping with your pet can help relieve stress and anxiety due to their attentive nature.
Another benefit of bed sharing is for people who suffer from depression, since animals show owners unconditional love. When sharing quarters, an owner can feel connected to their pets in ways that are difficult to come by on a normal basis.
The best benefit of all? Safety.
Sleeping with your pet, especially a dog, can make you feel safe when in a vulnerable sleeping state.
The feeling that you have a bedside guardian watching over you can put a lot of pet owners at ease.
As long as you’re in good health and practice good pet hygiene, you and your furry friend can be bed buddies as much as you both wish!