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Could sleeping with your pet kill you?

Virginia Chavez-Nelson is an avid contributor of words for the greater good (see: writer) and a fun-loving Phoenician by way of Argentina. With a degree in Journalism from Arizona State University, Virginia has more than 10 years of expe...

Beyond bedbugs

Pet owners share a camaraderie and common ground that creates a universal bond among people from all backgrounds. But even the tightly knit community of pet parents can be quickly torn apart by one differing factor: sleeping with your pets. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 56 percent of pet owners admit to sleeping with their pets.
Beyond bedbugs

Although some draw the line at this because of hygiene, sleeping with your pets raises some more serious health concerns. Could sleeping with your pet actually kill you? Sure, just as many things in life could, but the chances are quite slim. Even so, there are risk factors all pet owners should know.

The risks

According to the recent study by the CDC, sleeping with pets presents the highest risk of zoonotic infections, which are described as infections passed from pets to people. The study cites the plague, cat-scratch disease, meningitis and bacterial infections, among others, as the top ailments passed on from our furry friends. Most reported cases of zoonotic infections have been seen in human-pet interactions that involve transfer of oral bacterial from pets and open wounds. Some causes of disease exchange are due to the critters that take up residence on our pet's, fur like fleas and ticks.


As with any risk of contracting disease, young children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems should refrain from any activity that carries potential health risks. For the average pet owner, preventing zoonotic infections is simple. Follow these tips to keep your worries at bay:

  • Keep your pet current on all vaccinations.
  • Schedule regular visits to the vet.
  • Stay current on administering flea and tick medication.
  • Maintain a regular grooming schedule for your pet.
  • Have your pet’s feces checked at the vet for signs of intestinal parasites.
  • Keep puppy wipes handy and always wipe off your pet's paws and coat after being outdoors.


If you love sleeping with your pets, don’t let this study deter you. Yes, there are documented risks involved; however, there have been only a few reported cases of serious illness due to zoonotic infection and even fewer cases of death. The study by the CDC does point out that healthy pets provide very little cause for concern of contracting diseases from our four-legged buddies. A good rule of thumb for all pet owners: Healthy pets make healthy homes.

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Do you sleep with your pet(s)? Share in the comments below!

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