One of our A Moment of Science readers wrote: I like to curl up with my pet dogs at night. I've never had any problems, but sometimes I wonder: Is there any danger in sleeping with your pets?
What's The Risk?
If you take a pet into bed with you or kiss it on the lips, there's always the possibility for zoonoses, the transmission of disease from animal to human. One study dug up some frightening examples. One boy caught plague from a flea infested pet cat. And a woman contracted meningitis from kissing her pet dog on the lips.
Those cases are rare, though. If you're healthy and have a strong immune system, your chances of being infected by a pet are slim. But very young children and elderly adults whose immune systems are weaker are more vulnerable to zoonoses.
Getting Some Sleep
So basically, sleeping with pets isn't a clear cut no no. The American Veterinary Medical Association doesn't officially recommend that people not sleep with their pets. Plus, it's well known that caring for and being close to a pet has all sorts of benefits, such as reducing stress.
But even though catching a disease from an animal is rare, it's still possible. So if you do bring a pet into bed, it's wise to make sure he or she is clean and up to date with vaccinations.