Zoonoses in the Bedroom


Pet owners who value their pets as family members are not real happy with the findings in a research paper released in the February 2011 issue of The Journal of the Centers for Disease Control Emerging Infectious Diseases. According to the article titled “Zoonoses in the Bedroom”, written by Bruno B. Chomel, DVM, PhD; and Ben Sun, DVM, MPVM, it is possible that sleeping with pets may carry some serious health risks.

Being medical-terminology challenged, I had to look up “Zoonoses” so I can tell you the medical definition is “a disease communicable from animals to humans under natural conditions.” So that helps with a fundamental understanding of the big problem and all the news coverage.

There are several news articles available from Aol News, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and msmbc.com, just to name a few.

In the United States, 60% of households have pets. According to a survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The survey found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners. Women were more likely than men to allow the dogs in bed (25% to 16%) according to a press release on January 30, 2006 by AKC. We are a pet loving society!

Healthy pets can carry bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms that can make us sick, as most pet owners know. Chomel and Sun surveyed some fairly extreme cases, including a 9 year-old boy who contracted the plague from fleas infesting his cat and a man who allowed his dog to lick a surgical wound from a hip replacement, and as a result contracted meningitis.

To say pet owners are unhappy is an understatement! Why all the news coverage? It’s not like we don’t have common sense. We know to help prevent getting infected by a pet it is essential to observe good hygiene and prudent animal care. We use safe veterinarian prescribed flea control products to prevent flea borne diseases. And we know to use extra precautions handling pets around the very young, the elderly and the immune-compromised.

As for me and my household, we will exercise common sense and continue to cuddle with our furry companion.


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. There are so many different ways of getting sick, I think getting sick from a pet is one of the less likely ways.

    Are you more likely to get a disease from a pet than from getting your face licked or cuddling with your pet outside the bedroom? I wouldn’t think so.

    I agree with you, we are going to cuddle and that’s that.

  2. My cats have been sleeping in the bed with us for years. They are inside cats and I keep the litterbox very clean. I believe we can get worse illnesses from using a public bathroom or touching surfaces in an airport.

    Keep doing what makes you happy!

  3. Turn Your Pet Into A Well Behaved Family Member on

    Scientists and various studies are always finding ways for us to be “safer” by being more reserved and clinical. As long as your pet isn’t obviously ill, they deserve love and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.

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