Pets in Bed: More Dangerous Than Bedbugs?
Sleeping With Dogs, Cats Linked to Disease, Infections, Parasites
Other Bacterial Infections
Contrary to popular belief, the mouths of dogs and cats are not sterile. There are several bacteria that live in the mouths of carnivorous animals. Humans, particularly those with impaired or immature immune systems, can become infected.
Chomel and Sun describe one case of meningitis linked to a pet dog that often licked a baby's face.
Dogs often carry hookworms and roundworms. They can also carry protozoan parasites. These parasites, or their eggs, can sometimes be found on a pet's fur.
What You Should Do
It's relatively rare to get any of these infections from sleeping with a pet. But as Chomel and Sun show, it does happen.
They recommend that pets get regular veterinary examinations and vaccinations.
Because young children are at higher risk than adults, they recommend that small kids and adults with compromised immune systems avoid sleeping with, kissing, or even being licked by pets.
And they recommend that any area licked by a pet should immediately be washed with soap and water, especially if the pet licks an open wound.
"Our review suggests that persons, especially young children or immunocompromised persons, should be discouraged from sharing their bed with their pets or regularly kissing their pets," Chomel and Sun suggest.