Still in crunch mode preparing for IAABC! Here’s another guest post, from Ashley Warren.
Most people share a special bond with their dogs and a dog sharing a bed with their owner is not uncommon. This has been going on for as long as people have kept pets, but recent studies have shown that there are some potential health risks to sharing your bed with animals. However, while these studies do supply some pertinent information on animal illnesses, the truth is, as anyone with an online biology degree can tell you, that as long as you follow some common sense guidelines, you should have nothing to worry about when it comes to sleeping with your dog.
A recent study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that dog owners who share a bed with their pet may be at a greater risk for rare diseases. Among the potential diseases is round worm, a common fungus. This is especially dangerous to children and can lead to blindness. Unfortunately, this disease can be contracted when you kiss or cuddle your dog. Many dogs also carry a lot of bacteria in their saliva, which can cause infections if a dog licks an open wound on their owner. There is also the risk of fleas and the potential threats they pose. Another factor mentioned in the study are allergies. Many people are allergic to dog dander, and dogs can carry in pollen and grass from the outdoors as well. Thus, if you spend a significant amount of time in such close proximity to your dog, you may find that you suffer additionally from any allergies you may suffer, which can lead to a weakened immune system in general.
Aside from germs, the CDC cautions that sleeping with your dog can also be detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep. If you make a lot of movements in your sleep, your dog may become agitated and move about itself or even bite you. Additionally, you could hinder your own sleep if your dog keeps you awake. A lot of dogs move around during the night, which could prevent you from getting restful, uninterrupted sleep.
While the CDC study mentions some important issues for dog owners to keep in mind, most people have nothing to worry about. In general, basic common sense should keep you safe from any threat. If you are going to let your dog sleep with you, the first thing you should do is make sure you understand your dog well. Odds are your dog is not easily agitated, especially by you. If you do have a dog that gets angry, you may not want it in your bed. However as long as you have your dog properly trained, is unlikely that you will have to worry about it biting you or interrupting your sleep unnecessarily.
You should also make sure your dog is currently up to date on all its vaccines. Take your dog to the vet on a regular basis to make sure it gets all of the care it needs. This will ensure your dog doesn’t have any worms or other parasites. You should also make sure your dog is properly groomed, which will cut down on any potential allergy risks. Lastly, be mindful of your own health issues. If you have a weak immune system or underlying illness, there is a chance your dog might exacerbate the condition. It is therefore crucial that you make sure you will be fine before letting your dog into your bed.
When it comes to sharing their bed with a dog, most pet owners should have no problems. If you love your dog enough to share a bed with it, you probably love it enough to make sure it has proper care. As long as your pet is healthy, you don’t have to worry about getting sick from sleeping with your dog. Most pet owners teach their dogs proper behavioral habits as well. If this is the case, you probably don’t have to worry about your pet keeping you awake at night.
Ashley Warner is a graduate student working toward her Masters in Conservation Biology. She currently resides in Washington state.