Kick your pet out of bed? There are probably simpler way to keep your household healthy.
Just how close is too close to your pet?
There’s a growing body of research that suggests some of us are just a bit too close.
Count hookworm, roundworm and MRSA among the infections that can be caused by your otherwise lovable cat or dog.
And surprise, surprise: ground zero for contracting these infections is your bed.
If the possibility of a MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, infection isn’t enough to make you think twice about inviting your pet into bed, perhaps the threat of plague will.
A few years ago, a rural family from Oregon stumped researchers when two family members became ill with high fevers and swelling in their groins. One family member became very ill, resulting in a hospital stay and kidney failure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Shortly after the family members recovered, researchers pinpointed the cause: Yersinia pestis, the bacterial cause of plague.
Soon, startled researchers visited the family in Oregon, discovering that one of the family dogs sleeps with a family member. A blood test confirmed the dog, too, had once been infected with Y. pestis. The dog likely had contracted it via fleas.
Now, before you go enacting a household rule of "no more pets on the bed!" the Oregon family’s experience is rare and, of course, an extreme example of the risks we take in keeping pets in our homes and especially our beds.
If anything, this story should caution us to invest in regular flea preventative methods, not swiftly kick our pets to the floor.
I believe I maintain a fine balance of sharing my home and my life with my dogs and keeping a distance from their dogginess.
To reduce your own risks, do the obvious such as weekly washing of bedding, keeping pets off your pillows or better yet, introduce a separate pet bed alongside your own.
While one set of research highlights the risks of pets in our homes, other research suggests the presence of our pets helps protect us against pathogens.
This body of research hypothesizes that while our pets might be bringing pathogens into our homes, they’re also introducing microbes that may outcompete the pathogens.
While the research seems to point to me being too close to my pets, I wouldn’t change anything, plague risk and all.
This column is the opinion of Samantha Bohn. She welcomes comments and suggestions, and she encourages readers to submit pet questions she can explore at email@example.com.