Sleeping With Your Pets Can Be Unhealthy, Study Says

CHICAGO (CBS) — Do you let your pet sleep with you? It could be hazardous to your health.

Sound crazy?  A new study says a surprising number of people allow their pets to curl up with them, and it could actually be risky. But are the new findings overblown? What dangers could you face from close contact with your pets?

In a nightly ritual, Chrissy Carew and her five dogs all bunk up together for the night.

“I consider them full-fledged members of our family,” she says.

A new survey shows 56 percent of dog owners in the U.S. let their dogs sleep next to them. But researchers say that could lead to some real problems. 

“Sometimes we forget that they aren’t our children. They are pets and also they have their own life and there are diseases that can be transmitted,” says veterinarian Bruno Chomel of the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Chomel is one of the lead authors of the study just published by the Centers for Disease Control. Researchers tracked people who had close contact with their dogs and cats, either sleeping next to their pet or allowing their animal to lick and kiss them.

In rare instances, some caught illnesses like the plague, rabies, antibiotic-resistant infections; meningitis; and cat-scratch fever. Others picked up ringworm and intestinal parasites.

Medical experts say that one of the most important things a pet owner can do is to keep your dog or cat free of fleas. The insects bite and could spread disease.

“You always think it’s never going to happen to me, but when it happens to you it can be very sad and very bad,” Chomel says.

Eric Marlowe Garrison caught a terrible case of ringworm on his foot. The culprit: his roommate’s cat. He says he will change the way he interacts with pets.

“It has certainly taught me a lesson,” Garrison says.

But infectious disease expert Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine says his cat sleeps with him.   

“Anytime human beings have close associations with animals, including their pets, there’s some risk, but it’s very, very small,” he says.

Indoor cats pose less risk because they don’t come in contact with fleas.

Chrissy Carew makes sure she keeps her dogs very clean and plans to continue to let them in her bed, despite the survey findings. 

People most at risk for catching something from a pet are the elderly, the very young and people with weakened immune systems. If your pet appears sick, limit close physical contact until they are better. Always wash your hands after petting an animal.

Remember that researchers have also found that pets have tremendously positive benefits on people’s health, like reducing stress and anxiety.

  • Lew

    Everything is bad for you. Blaf, blah, blah!

    • George Spelvin

      Considering the scarcity of information contained in this article, a single paragraph would have sufficed.

      • doctorate

        Well said.

    • Gomalio Fung

      Better yet, where has SHE been sitting? Or on whom?

    • Danzou

      The CDC needs to get their priorities straight. I can’t believe they’d waste time with this nonsense. Time to fire someone.

      • weewayne

        your tax $ paid for it probably by some ear mark some grant to a pols buddy, and i guarantee it wasn’t cheep.

    • Johnny Richards

      Id rather cuddle up with my pet then get in a taxi/on a subway in Chicago, NY, or LA.

      • Liv

        I LOVE the way Dems take credit for passing such wonderful laws. Still the party of slavery!

      • cwmums

        I’ve always wondered who pays for these assinine studies. Pay me millions of dollars and I will do a study on cutting your life span in half by living with a liberal Democrat.

      • Susanna Gordon

        I love your response. If just living with a lib doesn’t kill you, their policies and all that “civility” most certainly will.

      • Susanna Gordon

        Oh, and, give the left a chance, and they will pass a law against it. For our own good, of course. Like those Mercury filled light bulbs, the haz mat Prius, the wind turbines that kill insect eating bats by the hundreds of thousdans…

      • DemsRDishonest

        @GKinty, Wow, you sure do give a lot of undue credit to liberals. If I am not mistaken, Democrats were the party of slavery and the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, stood against them and thus began the Civil War. Then, after the end of the Civil War, Democrats who were still upset about the abolition of slavery started the Ku Klux Klan. A Democrat killed Abraham Lincoln because he was so angry about the Republican freeing salves. Jim Crow laws were enacted by Democrats, and a Democrat/Communist killed John F. Kennedy, a major proponent of Civil Rights in the 1960’s.

        Not all Democrats are liberals, but no liberals are Republicans. Democrats/liberals are the party of slavery and violence, and you claims to the contrary do not change history or facts.

      • Gkinty

        Yeah – just like all those other crazy laws the stupid libs got passed that we real amerrcan conservatives tried to stand against! Like the child labor laws, Jim Crow, women’s suffrage, the 40hr work week, social security, medicare, equal pay, free education – all the things we TRIED to warn them were just communism! Just think how great our country woulda been without all them things! Stupid librahls!

      • Mike

        @Gkinty – Your history is a bit sketchy. Many of your listed initiatives were conceived and championed by the Republican Party. Do some reading, stop being spoon-fed the lies, and learn to rely on yourself. It’s the Conservative way.

    • greifretier

      My beagle sleeps with me every night and has almost since the day that I got him. He will be 11 years old next month.

      • Bubba J

        I knew a girl like that once!

      • Bluecat4usa

        Bubba, You knew a girl like that once? What? 11 years old. Sicko!

      • SomeOther

        Or is that 77 in dog years?

    • Suze

      No kidding, what a crock! My 19 year old cat has slept on my behind almost every day of her life. I have NEVER caught anything from her. Common sense says as long as she is up to date on her shots, I’ll be fine.

      • stu

        slept on my behind?!?!?!?!? BWAAAAHAHAHAHA

      • Jimbo

        There once was a man from Nantucket

      • Fido

        I aint ever seen noone gat AIDS, goonorrhea, syphilis, herpers or crabs from no dog an cat

      • Joni Keller Boulet

        …”slept on my….” WHAT??

      • Setu

        “My 19 year old cat has slept on my BEHIND almost every day of her life. I have NEVER caught anything from her.”

        Good for your cat that she hasnt caught anything from your BEHIND.

      • Santan


    • Beaufort

      You got that right!

      • jacksprat

        uh huh

  • It Is A Warm Place Butt Stinky

    Poor cat.

  • Vicky

    I think sleeping witb people would have a much higher chance of catching a disease!

    • E

      I totally agree with you there. My dog sleeps with me and I know she’s cleaner (and smarter) than most humans.

      • Gomalio Fung

        Ever seen where women put their mouths when they’re drunk? I’d rather kiss a dog’s butt than kiss the same lips some tattooed ex-con with Hep C and HPV has had wrapped around his johnson.

      • snoopydoggiepoop

        Ok let get this clear, I only eat MY dogs poop because I know it’s clean. And as far as sleeping with my dog, we don’t. As soon as we are done she goes to her own room…let’s be clear about this now. :)

      • Capt Awesome

        Poy, you might be surprised.

      • poy

        Do most humans eat their own stool and risk worm infestation?

      • Sue

        Yeah. I’ve only slept with my furry friends for the last 49-1/2 years. I’d better really be careful of my Boston Terrier and Schnauzer! OMG!

        Naw! I won’t change.

    • humen007

      Banning such close associations with pets, especially dogs should be banned and included in the Obama healthcare bill. There is nothing so disgusting as curling up with an English Setter or Golder Retriever at night and then waking up by getting your face licked and beat over the head with tails wagging. What is wrong with you people?

    • Von

      I soooo agree with you

  • Yes

    You’re at risk for never, ever having a date again if anybody finds out.

    • nomie

      they probably sleep with their pet also. so when they get married, there will be two pets in bed.

  • Rufus Levin

    If your animal is SICK or diseased..take it to the VET. No one sleeps with sick pets…this is a STUPID article, and any such STUDY is STUPID and a waste of time…Common sense ACTUALLY still exists in AMERICA…and we do not need liberal and government NANNYS to tell us what to do.

    Folks get SICKER from watching MSNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, and from reading HuffPO and KOS.

    • Texan

      You’re a doofus!

  • Rufus Levin

    You are at RISK of being elected as a Democrat to Congress.

    • Kerry Early


  • Dave in Va

    My wife and I sometimes can’t get our Golden Retriever(s) to leave, so I just use ’em for leverage. Don’t worry about it.

  • dlb

    They live on fear! They live on fear!

    • tom

      Sounds just like a typical reptilian; they love to thrive on fear as a steak sauce; they just love that negative energy; just Google ‘David Icke and reptilians.’ Very spot on.

  • Tanizaki

    Which is why civilized people don’t wear shoes in their houses.

    • jb

      Japanese people eat uncooked fish that contains live parasites, along with whatever was on the fisherman’s hands or on the factory gutting table.

      My shoes are cleaner than their salmon.

    • Danzou

      Tanizaki: you’re being a doozsh.

    • BJ

      Darn, and I thought having an indoor toilet made me civilized.

      When you come to my house, you can take your shoes off so you can feel civilized, but you have to let my dog kiss you on the lips before you can enter … don’t worry, she bathes herself daily.

    • Chris @ Austin

      People in wheel chairs and those who use walkers, are they also uncivilized? It’s probably best they throw themselves on the floor and drag themselves around. Or maybe they should have indoor chairs and outdoor chairs.

    • Dori

      Civilized people don’t eat dogs, either.

    • Tanizaki

      Chris, I am an American, living in America. I prefer not to have the floors of my house as filthy as a city street or public restroom.

      P.S. The plural of “American” is “Americans”.

    • Kerry Early

      They do if they have back, foot, hip or other problems.

    • Chris @ Austin

      This isn’t Japan. I’m in and out of my house dozens of time everyday. Me, and most people, are not going to sit around and tie and untie our shoes all day long. Real nice, calling most American’s uncivilized.

    • Trish

      Okay, let’s just say some people prefer that shoes not be worn in their homes. It’s a personal preference. Having said that, I think if you keep your pets healthy, you won’t have a problem if you let them sleep with you. If your pet is sick, for Pete’s sake take it to the vet. Problem solved.

    • GG

      Trish, you’re so sensible.

  • Heidi

    Bull! I have slept with all of my dogs in my bed over a period of 30 yrs or so and neither my husband or myself have gotten sick. I am more worried about what we can catch from humans!

  • Matt

    The government needs to regulate this as soon as possible.
    I mean, this is serious business people –

    Don’t you know that cats kill babies? Stealing their breath by sitting on their chests as they sleep?

    This government has to do something – must do something – we must license all pets that sleep with their owners, charge these owners a 1% tax, and begin monitoring animal owners.
    It’s the only way.
    I’m so scared.
    I’m taking my dogs and cat to be put down as soon as possible.
    I don’t want to die.

    • DrT

      Hey–don’t give THIS administration any more novel ideas, please!! LOL

    • sharon

      Laugh of the day! Thanks for that.

    • Kiki

      Matt, that was fantastic! Spot on hysterical. My chihuahua and I needed a good laugh today. Though he’s asleep now on my lap, when he wakes he’ll be sure to thank you himself :)

      • adolest

        Yes, Matt very funny! Actually when I feel I am coming down with a cold I sleep with my dog even more than normal for a faster recovery. He works better that Nyquil. My dog and I also had a good laugh reading your post..funny thing is the more my dog laughs the more he makes me laugh =)

    • Dahlink

      Now the only thing that needs to be mounted and stuffed is Obama!

      • rundog67

        Thumbs up! XD Chill people I mean come on what’s next food’s bad for you because it makes you fat so now we’ll all starve? It’s only when your pet has worms or ticks. My dog happens to be an indoor one soooooo…they need to correct it to *DOGS WITHOUT DAILY SHOTS THAT GO OUTSIDE AND ARE NEVER CHECKED BY THEIR OWNERS/THE VET FOR INSECTS AND DISEASES*

        *~Check out my website at authorlauren.wordpress,com please feel free to comment and show me places to improve~*

  • barbara

    Dumbest study ever. Of course if pets are sick or diseased, then there is risk for humans who sleep with them. Stupid article, typical CBS.

  • Alley Rat

    It was really cold last night, a real three dog night.

    • Dog lover

      Does that mean a three way or just doggie style?

      Just wondering coz you run out of fingers fast.

      Dog lover

  • darryl ames

    this is ridiculous I sleep with my pet lion and I…….

  • Roger Spleenmaster

    I sleep with my 2,659,892 pets every night. They are dust mites and I love them all equally. Oh, make that 2,662,328.

    • Bob Barker

      Sounds like you need to have your dust mites spayed or neutered. Didn’t you ever watch my game show?

      • Roger Spleenmaster

        I’m in the process of creating dust mite feminism, so that the females no longer reproduce.

    • KivaB007

      Oh my, I just reported your comment in error. It was funny and I’m picking out some of the replies to send to my mom who sent me this article…with only kind intentions…but me dislike judgment on something like that! Sorry Roger, master of your spleen….I retract my erroneous report!

  • Kerry Early

    Stupidest thing I have ever seen to be spending public money on. That we can catch something from our pets or they from us – DUH. Doesnt change the fact that my animals are part of my family and have always slept with me. I kiss them all over their faces everyday – nothing is going to change because of this stupid report. I think there are GREATER BENEFITS to LETTING your animals sleep with you.

  • Tasha

    Note- Remember that cats can still have fleas if indoors! They can come in on our clothes or from other animals. If you are worried about intestinal parasites/worms, brig in yearly fecals to your vet!

    • Roberta Waker

      You can also bring in roaches from items bought at the store. Bed bugs are another problem you can bring home from hotels, resorts, etc. Check everything when you go on vacation and again when you return home.

  • goober bean

    My ex wife was more hazardous to sleep with than my 2 chihuahuas

    • animal lover

      My cat sleeps on my pillow with me nose to nose and purrs me to sleep. He is better than a sedative and a lot cuddlier. I’d rather listen to my cat purr than my husband snore.

    • I like kitty

      My ex slept with our german shepard. Got stuck too. Man it was two hours before we got them apart. I now have two cats, much easier and cleaner. The worms are a little bit of a pain but the purrs are great.

    • KivaB007

      Haha! I like!

  • John Dowert

    I’ll stop sleeping with my dog right after all that global warming wipes Manhattan island off the map.
    We know from DNA studies that men and dogs have lived very closely together for at least 50,000 years. We share antibodies for most of the viruses we get. This is nothing but another “medical scare of the week” bs story.
    Remember the scare over alar in apples? Y2k? That we would become so crowded by the year 2,000 that we would all be starving? Total bs.

  • Is It Wrong???

    My wife has been calling me a dog for years, and sometimes even lets me sleep in the bed!!!.

  • David

    This has become a custom. People are protective of their pets.
    When I was a cop I learned that when serving a warrant, you can rough up the person if need be to get compliance and he will go with you, but if you accidently kick his dog on the way out you got a real fight on your hands.

  • Ole Sarge

    If we did not have an immune system this issue would not be an issue now would it?

  • Enjoy The Veal Folks

    I had a pet pig once but I had to let him go, he would not stop going WEEEEEEE all over the place.

  • Maxie Pad

    Letting five (5!!!) dogs sleep in your bed, makes you a bit of a dumb itch.

    • snoopydoggiepoop

      What trully amazing is the 3 are Rottweilers, 1 is a Great Dane and the last one is a Presa Canario …All in a twin size bed !!!!!

  • Freddie's Daddy

    I bet this study was conducted with a big fat juicy federal grant, because that’s how our broke government rolls. I’d also bet the ranch that humans sleeping with other humans has spread WAY more disease than humans sleeping with their pets. :)

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