Monday, March 26, 2012

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ... in Your Bed?

Did you know that over half of people who love their dogs as family let them sleep in their beds?  I do.  I love their warmth and comfort.  I sleep better with them even though they take up quite a bit of room.  This becomes very clear when I travel without them ... the bed just feels empty and lonely without a dog sharing it with me.  Apparently, I am a typical dog-loving woman:  according to the American Kennel Club, women are more likely to let their dogs sleep with them than men.

Anyone who is or who has ever been close to their pet, whether dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, hamster, or any other critter, knows how much they add to our lives.  And this is backed up by medical evidence. Having a pet can lower your blood pressure, reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and ease loneliness. Having a dog, especially, increases your opportunities or motivation for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization. Having a dog SHOULD help you get that much-needed exercise, anyway. ;-)

Apparently, despite the benefits I get from sleeping with my dogs, there are also health risks.  About a year ago, a study was released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that revealed how our pets can make us sick.  Sleeping with, kissing your pet, and allowing your pet to lick you can result in serious illness ... even death!  Fortunately for us dog lovers, it seems there are more cat-related diseases than those acquired from dogs.

Ever heard the song "Cat Scratch Fever?"  Well, apparently there is a real disease transmitted by cats called "cat scratch disease."  It's a bacterial infection that comes from fleas and flea poop that can be transmitted to humans via cats.  Most victims of cat scratch disease are children, who become infected when bitten, scratched or even licked by a kitty.  The bacteria causes swelling of the lymph nodes and can lead to lethal damage to the liver, spleen or kidneys.

So what should you do to protect yourself from pet-borne diseases?  According to the article, Letting Sleeping Dogs Lie in Your Bed Can Kill You, the most important thing you can do is to keep your pet healthy through simple hygiene and routine veterinary care.  Keep your pet free of parasites, both internal and external.  If your pet licks an open wound on your skin, wash it immediately with soap and water.  If your dogs rolls in poop or other nastiness, wash him/her thoroughly.  And think twice before letting young children or anyone with a compromised immune system share their bed ... or kisses ... with their pets.  If you don't allow your pets to sleep in bed with you, just make sure they have their own safe and comfy place to spend the night.

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As for me, I'm certainly no child ... except maybe at heart ... and I'm healthy.  I will continue to welcome doggie kisses and enjoy sleeping with my poochies.

"If your dog is fat, you're not getting enough exercise."  ~Author unknown

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Comments and Feedback are always welcome, as long as you follow one rule: Be the person your dog thinks you are (or cat, bunny, ferret, horse ...)