Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Does sharing the bed also mean sharing diseases with your pet?

I was on Fox 5 today to discuss a recent study out of California that shows sleeping in bed with your dog or cat may lead to disease.  This is an interesting topic as surveys indicate that more than 50% of pet owners let their dogs and cats in bed with them.

The study describes various cases of pet owners contracting horrible diseases like the Plague, MRSA, Cat Scratch Disease and Salmonella.  While this information is scary one must also keep in mind that many of these diseases can be avoided with proper veterinary care and good hygiene.

The Plague and Cat Scratch Disease are caused by bacteria that live on fleas; while Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever are transmitted by ticks.  If you eliminate the fleas and ticks on your pets, you make a big dent in possible exposure.  The very best way to accomplish this is with a topical, spot-on treatment such as Frontline or Revolution applied every month.

MRSA is very frightening since it is a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.  The good news here is that pets are very unlikely to cause an initial infections humans.  In fact, our dogs and cats should be worrying about what we bring home to them as humans can transmit the bacteria to pets in the house.  If you or someone in your home has had a MRSA infection you should be aware that pets can serve as a reservoir and reinfect humans.

The best way to avoid food borne bacteria is not to feed a raw food diet since cooking is the most effective way to rid food of these bacteria.  When you feed a raw diet you are potentially introducing Salmonella or E. coli into your home and yard.

The take home message from this study should be that an adult with a healthy immune system, that practices good personal hygiene and provides proper veterinary care for their pet is very unlikely to contract any of these diseases; even if they sleep in bed with their pets.

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