Kids’ Health: Sharing Beds with Pets

Last week when my mother-in-law was visiting, she suggested that we should stop allowing Uno to sleep in Ethan’s bed. The reason was because she read somewhere that pets can actually transfer diseases to children if they sleep in the same bed. This really got me to thinking about the subject, so I started searching through the Internet to find out if that was really true. After a lot of research here is what I discovered: according to experts, any contact with pets offers some risk of infection. That is because our pets are not sterile, thus there is always a chance that bacteria or parasites will transfer, and the risks increase even more when we sleep close to animals. On the other hand, they say that as long as you and your pet are both healthy and your pet is treated regularly for fleas and worms, close contact is rarely a problem.

At first, I felt kind of a relief because taking good care of Uno and ensuring he is up-to-date with his vaccines is one of my priorities. I make sure to brush him at least once a day, bathe him on a regular basis, and I always check him for fleas. In addition, when I was looking for dogs beds for sale, I decided to purchase a dog bed covered with antibacterial fabric, which is resistant to microbial and fungal growth and also helps minimize the odor that the pet leaves behind. But then I thought about it again, and that phrase ‘rarely a problem’ got me to thinking that if there are some changes I could implement, (even minimal) so that nothing goes wrong, I’d do it in the blink of an eye for my little ones. So I decided to go and talk with someone that I can really trust, my vet.

Once at the clinic, I asked my vet about the main risks of my child sharing a bed with his pet. She started explaining to me that the risk of Ethan catching a disease from Uno was very low. She also explained that the bacteria he could pick up from the pet can be divided into two main categories – those ingested by Uno and those already living on him. The first category includes some of the most disgusting bugs such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. While these two usually don’t cause illness in pets, they can be shed in the dog’s face and cause a quite serious gastro-type illness in humans. The second category is a bacteria that live naturally on pets, without causing them any harm. It is called commensal bacteria and can also be the cause of a disease or infection in humans.

She mentioned that the most popular and troublesome example of these bugs are probably Staphylococcus. These can cause a range of illnesses in humans, from wound and skin infections, to pneumonia and even meningitis. You could catch these types of bacteria if for instance, you let your pet nuzzle your nose, mouth and eyes. Moreover, the chances are even higher if you have open wounds or if you are immunocompromised. According to my vet, taking a good health care and hygiene for you and your pet is the most effective way to avoid most potential health problems. She also gave me these great tips:

  • Always wash your hands after playing or taking care of your pet, especially before handling food;
  • Do not share implements for human and animal food preparation;
  • Remove any pet faeces from the household quickly and hygienically;
  • Keep regular worming and flea control for your pets;
  • Consider the risks of feeding you pet raw meat;
  • Be especially careful around people with a weak immune system.

After visiting my vet’s clinic, I realized that as long as I kept taking good care of Uno and kept track of what he eats, allowing him to sleep with Ethan is not such a big problem. Anyway, little by little I’m trying to convince Ethan that sleeping on separate beds is better for both of them.

At the time when I was looking for dogs beds for sale, I read an article about how important it is for your dog to have his own bed, and that is what I’ve been trying to explain to Ethan lately. So far, there has been some improvements. Some nights I manage to put Uno to sleep on his bed, but sometimes he just won’t. I hope that with time I will get them both of them to sleep on separate beds, for the sake of their health and my inner peace of course.