Snoozing with your schnauzer can disrupt sleep and health

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 19th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You wake up every morning exhausted and congested, with red, puffy eyes and scratches on your body. The culprit might be sleepwalking, staying up too late to watch late-night comedy … or your pet.

A survey from the American Pet Products Association found that almost half of all dogs sleep in their owner’s bed. About two-thirds of small dogs, nearly half of all medium dogs and a third of large dogs snooze with their humans. Even more prevalent were cats that slept with their owners; two-thirds of all cat owners allow their felines to fall asleep with them.

But allergies and lost sleep could be the least of your problems if you let your beloved pet in the bed. As hard as it may be to give Buddy the boot out of the bedroom, it could be better for your health.

Pets can carry a multitude of diseases that can transfer to humans, including antibiotic-resistant MRSA [MUR-sa], cat scratch disease, parasites and even … the plague. Fleas carry this not-so-ancient scourge, which can pass from pets to people, although the risk is small.

While the chances of catching a nasty infection from your cuddle companion are indeed relatively low, it’s better to be safe than sorry and sick. Experts recommend that pets, and of course people, get regular checkups and vaccinations. Young children and their undeveloped immune systems are especially susceptible to such illnesses, so they should avoid well-meaning licks, kisses and snuggles until they’re a bit older. Licks to an open wound should be washed immediately.

No one wants to treat their beloved pets as if they’re vermin to be avoided, but a few well-marked boundaries will ensure that both you and your pet will lead long, happy and healthy lives. You’ll both get enough shut-eye, steer clear of sickness, and … not to mention … keep your sheets fur-free and sleep on pillows sans slobber.