We know how comforting it is to cuddle up with our furry friends at night. However, sleeping with our dogs can come with its own set of risks. While many viruses and bacteria cannot be transmitted from animals to humans, there are certain infections that can spread between the two.
In this article, we will discuss 10 diseases that dogs can pass to humans and provide guidance on reducing any risks to ensure that both you and your pet stay healthy.
Diseases That Can Be Transmitted from Dogs to Humans
As much as we love to cuddle up with our furry friends, there are some risks involved. Although many viruses or bacteria can’t spread from animals to humans, there are some infections that can spread between people and animals. In this section, we will discuss 11 diseases that your dog can pass to you and guide you on reducing any risks to ensure that you and your pets stay healthy.
Warning: The following section contains information that may cause discomfort for bug-phobic readers.
Allergies and Asthma
If you suffer from allergies or asthma, it’s important to be aware that sleeping with your dog can exacerbate your symptoms. Pet dander, which is shed by dogs and other animals, can circulate in the air and trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks. Keeping your bedroom door closed and using an air purifier can help reduce your exposure to pet dander.
Ticks carry many diseases contagious to humans, and a few of the more notable ones are Lyme disease Anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. These diseases can have serious health consequences for dogs and people. If your dog has a tick in its fur and comes to bed with you, the tick might just latch onto you instead of your dog. We don’t want to make you bug-phobic, but if you live in an area where fleas and ticks are common, use preventative products on your pets. There are tick collars, sprays, and shampoos, each made to address specific needs.
Salmonella infection can lead to diarrhea and fever in dogs and humans. People usually contract salmonella poisoning by eating contaminated or undercooked food. Just like their human counterparts, dogs can get salmonella infection from contaminated food, contaminated water, or a raw diet that is not stored at the correct temperature. International Veterinary Publications indicate the feeding of raw meat is the most common route of transmission in dogs. The bad news is that salmonella can be transmitted from dogs to humans.
Salmonella is typically transmitted if you kiss an infected dog or come into contact with the feces of a dog. Pet waste from both sick and healthy pets can be a source of infection for people. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up dog poop and avoid giving out smooches when your dog’s visibly ill, frequently vomiting, or having tummy trouble.
Mites and Scabies
Mites are small eight-legged bugs that often feed off your dog’s skin oils and earwax. Close contact with other dogs is typically what causes mites to be transmitted to your pet. If you notice your dog excessively scratching around its ears, it may be a sign they have mites. These tiny little bugs are transmissible to humans in close contact, and they are no fun for you and your pet.
The most common is the mange Mite causing human scabies, which, as the name implies, is very contagious to people. Infected humans usually present with severe itching, skin rash, and red bumps on areas where the mites bite. The best way to prevent dog mites is to ensure your pet doesn’t come into contact with another dog who has them. Most routine flea and tick medication should be effective against fur mites.
Rabies is a fatal disease, and it is transmitted when one infected animal bites another. This viral disease is rare in North America and Europe due to pet vaccinations. Only one in three cases are reported in humans each year. Rabies does spread from dogs to people, though it can be passed along by a bite or scratch of an infected dog. Once the disease matures in a human, it becomes fatal.
If your dog is attacked by another dog or bitten by a wild animal, take it to a vet right away and talk about rabies treatments. Rabies is 100% preventable with vaccination. Your dog should receive a rabies booster every one to three years.
Hookworms and Roundworms
Hookworm and roundworm eggs can be passed into a dog’s stool and infect humans. Hookworms can enter through people’s skin, for example, a person who walks barefoot in sand contaminated with dog feces. Roundworms, on the other hand, are transmitted by accidental ingestion of fecal matter.
If you or your kids accidentally swallow dirt that has been contaminated with infected dog feces, worms may start growing in your guts. Because of these zoonotic parasites, pets are usually not allowed on beaches to prevent canine hookworm and roundworm infection. Deworm your dogs regularly and do not allow children to place dirty objects in their mouths. Remember to clean up and discard dog’s feces from your lawn.
Ringworm is not a worm; it is a fungus that causes a ring-shaped infection on the skin. The bad news is that ringworm is very contagious and can transmit from dogs to humans. Dogs can catch ringworm either through direct contact with an affected animal or from a contaminated environment like a grooming or boarding care facility where ringworm spores are present.
As you can imagine, dogs that interact with other dogs or animals are more prone to catching ringworm. Infected dogs usually have scaly patches of skin with hair loss. People and kids can get ringworms simply from touching infected dogs. It looks like a circular red rash
Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain in both dogs and humans. Dogs can become infected by eating contaminated food or coming into contact with infected feces. Humans can contract campylobacter by coming into contact with dog feces or by handling contaminated food. Proper hygiene, including washing hands thoroughly after handling dog feces and cooking meat to a safe temperature, can help prevent the spread of campylobacter.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected dog urine. Dogs can contract the infection by drinking from contaminated water sources or coming into contact with infected wildlife. Symptoms of leptospirosis in humans can include fever, headache, and muscle aches. Vaccinating your dog against leptospirosis and avoiding swimming in contaminated water can help reduce the risk of transmission.
Tapeworms are a type of parasitic worm that can infect both dogs and humans. Humans can become infected by accidentally swallowing an infected flea or by coming into contact with infected dog feces. Proper flea control and cleaning up dog feces promptly can help prevent tapeworm infections.
Dog feces can contain a variety of harmful bacteria and parasites, including E. coli and salmonella. Cleaning up dog feces promptly and washing hands thoroughly afterward can help prevent the spread of these infections.
Overall, while the risk of contracting a disease from your dog is relatively low, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect yourself and your furry friend. Regular veterinary checkups, proper hygiene, and vaccination can all help reduce the risk of disease transmission.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Healthy Pets, Healthy People: Diseases You Can Get From Your Pets. https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/diseases/index.html
- American Veterinary Medical Association. (n.d.). Leptospirosis. https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/petcare/leptospirosis
The Risks of Sleeping with Dogs
As much as we love our furry companions, there are some risks that come with sleeping with our dogs. While the bond between humans and dogs is undeniable, it’s important to be aware of the potential health hazards that can arise from sharing your bed with your pet.
One of the biggest risks is the transmission of diseases. Dogs can carry and transmit diseases to humans such as ticks, salmonella, mites and scabies, rabies, hookworms and roundworms, ringworm, campylobacter, and leptospirosis. These diseases can have serious health consequences for both dogs and humans. For example, ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, while salmonella can cause diarrhea and fever in both dogs and humans.
To reduce the risks of disease transmission, it’s important to take preventative measures. This includes using tick and flea preventatives on your pets, washing your hands thoroughly after cleaning up dog poop, and avoiding contact with your dog’s urine or feces. Additionally, make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and deworming treatments.
Another risk of sleeping with your dog is allergies and asthma. If you or someone in your household is allergic to dogs or has asthma, it’s best to avoid allowing your pet to sleep in your bed or even in your room. Pet dander can circulate in the air and accumulate on surfaces, which can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.
Despite the risks, there are also benefits to sleeping with your dog. Studies have shown that cuddling with your pet can lead to the release of oxytocin, which reduces stress and elevates your mood. It can also help lower your heart rate, ease insomnia, and result in a higher sleep efficiency score.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Healthy Pets Healthy People. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/index.html
In addition to the risks mentioned above, it’s important to be aware of kidney disease in dogs, which can also be a potential concern when sharing your bed with your furry companion.
When it comes to sleeping with our furry friends, it’s important to be aware of potential health risks. Dogs can carry diseases that are transmissible to humans, but with some simple precautions, we can reduce the risks and continue to enjoy cuddling up with our pets.
Good Hygiene and Cleanliness Practices
One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of contracting diseases from our dogs is to practice good hygiene and cleanliness. Always wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up your dog’s urine or feces, and avoid touching your face until you’ve washed your hands. Make sure to clean your dog’s paws and snout after a walk using pet-safe products such as wet wipes or dog shampoo and water. Avoid using toxic products such as alcohol or bleach on your dogs.
Keeping your dog up-to-date on vaccinations is another important step in reducing the risk of disease transmission. Talk to your vet about which vaccinations are necessary for your dog, and make sure to keep records of all vaccinations. Rabies is a particularly serious disease that can be transmitted from dogs to humans, so it’s important to make sure your dog receives a rabies booster every one to three years.
Consulting the Vet
If your dog shows any signs of illness, it’s important to consult your vet before letting them sleep in your bed. Some illnesses can be transmitted to humans, so it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and your family. Regular check-ups and preventative care can also help keep your dog healthy and reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Benefits of Sleeping with Your Dog
Sleeping with your dog can be a comforting and enjoyable experience for both you and your furry friend. In fact, studies have shown that sleeping with your dog can have several benefits for your health and well-being.
Firstly, sleeping with your dog can help reduce stress and anxiety. The act of cuddling with your dog releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels. This can lead to a better night’s sleep and an overall improvement in mood.
Additionally, sleeping with your dog can provide a sense of security and comfort. Dogs are known for their loyalty and protective instincts, and having them by your side at night can help alleviate feelings of loneliness or fear.
Furthermore, sleeping with your dog can also have physical health benefits. Studies have shown that the presence of a dog can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, one study found that dog owners who slept with their pets had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t.
Of course, it’s important to note that sleeping with your dog is not for everyone. Some people may have allergies or respiratory issues that make it difficult to sleep with a pet. Additionally, it’s important to make sure your dog is clean and healthy before allowing them to sleep in your bed.