Experts say you can’t catch distemper and become ill by snuggling with your dog, but there is a whole host of other diseases your dog or cat can pass along to you when you invite your pets into your bed. And merely touching and kissing your dog or cat, or allowing them to lick your leg or arm can give you hookworm, ringworm, roundworm, cat scratch disease, and drug-resistant staph infections.
The National Institutes of Health reports on an article published in the February issue of the public health journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that states that sleeping with pets can make you ill. Veterinarian and professor of zoonoses at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis, Dr. Bruno Chomel states, “Having a pet in bed is not a good idea.”
Of the 250 zoonotic diseases – infections transmitted between animals and people – more than 100 are derived from domestic pets. Individuals with weakened immune system are most at risk for getting an infection from their pet.
On the flip side, however, the health benefits pets provide their owners far outweigh the risks of catching something. Pets help to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, lift owners’ spirits, increase physical activity, as well as offer unconditional love, friendship, and support.
Tips to keep you healthy and infection-free:
- Practice good hygiene habits by washing your hands with soap and hot water after handling pets as well as any area a pet has licked
- Maintain good health for your pet too by keeping their shots up to date and having them routinely examined by a veterinarian
- Wash your pet’s water and food bowls daily to reduce the potential of parasites
- Don’t sleep with your pet and avoid kissing them
The Michigan Humane Society reports:
- Roundworms are passed in your animal’s stools, look like strands of spaghetti and can be transmitted to humans by direct contact with the infected feces.
- Hookworms are the most prevalent gastrointestinal parasites found in dogs and cats. Direct contact with hookworms can cause infection in humans.
- Toxoplasma are microscopic intestinal parasites found in cats. Wearing gloves when gardening, washing your hands, and keeping your cat indoors can reduce your risk for getting infected.
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