Can Snuggling up with your Pet can Cause Potential Harm?

I have always fantasized about the pets that I am going to own when I am older due to the fact that my parents deprived me of ever having one when I was growing up. I have always known in my parents case, they did not want a pet because it would be a time and money consuming addition to my family of six. However, I have also questioned whether health has ever played a role in the decision to own a house pet. This seems to make sense because despite the fact that animals roam around outside putting there mouths and noses on anything they can touch, owners still allow their pets to sleep in bed with them. However, the research regarding this issue tells us that a health effect is not a strong reason to avoid having a pet in the house.

Before looking for studies that were published on this topic, I searched for some base information. I found out through this article that you cannot pick up the common cold or flu from your pet because you can only contract that from your own species. That same article from University of California Berkley, informs us that one way to become infected from your pet through its feces, if it contains Salmonella or Campylobacter.  Also, this article explains that if one does not properly take care of their animal and its hygiene, there are different diseases and infections that can potentially effect their owner, especially if they are allowing it to join them in bed.

There was a study released in 2011 that shows the illnesses that humans can catch from their pets sleeping in their beds with them. This study starts off by telling us that in the United States, out of an estimated 60 million dogs, 21-33% sleep in their owners bed and out of an estimated 75 million cats, 60% sleep in their owners bed. As we have talked about in class, this large sample size is a key part of a legitimate and effective study. The study then begins analyzing the different diseases and infections that are displayed in Table 2 below. The results of this study contain an accumulation of different cases in which the owner became sick from their pet. It is logical that an observational or experimental study from a randomized group of pet owners would not be efficient considering the rarity of the infections and diseases that are caught from pets. However, it is more difficult to rule out cofounding variables with a case study like this.


As you can see, any type of health issue caused by a house pet is pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. As we have done many times in class after going over different studies and experiments, it is important to debate whether the benefits of having an animal outweigh the health risks. This article mentions many physical and psychological benefits that range from increased levels of exercise to increased levels of joy and comfort. When comparing these positive effects with the small chance of contracting any sort of illness from your pet, I do not think that negative health effects should turn someone away from owning a pet. Also, I do not think it is necessary for anyone to start kicking their animals out of bed!


2 thoughts on “Can Snuggling up with your Pet can Cause Potential Harm?

  1. Mya Legend Avant

    Reading the title of this post did make me a little worried, but it is good to hear that we can a keep cuddling with our amazingly lovable companions. I never really thought about a pet being any danger and to know that something at all could happen is suprising, but it does make sense. However like you said the benefit outweigh the risk. I actually learned serval benefits that pets and specifically dogs can have on people. In fact many universities are looking into having dogs on campuses during final exam weeks. They suggest that research shows that they reduce stress not mention they make you get up from you dorm room for some fresh air. I do wonder if other pets have the same health benefits that perhaps maybe dogs and cats might have. The article below points out how pet studies are usally based on dogs and cats; making it difficult to determine if other pets have benefits. In the same token though you don’t usally snuggle with those types of pets.

  2. Melissa Fraistat

    Just like you, I never had any pets growing up, but I still hope to have a dog when I’m older. When I first started reading this blog, I got nervous worrying if pets do in fact cause harm, but I was glad to read that the possibles harms are quite rare. Like you said, there are actually many psychological benefits to pets, and even though I have never had one, I completely agree. I remember about a month ago, UHS had puppies for people to play with during midterms, and after only spending a little bit of time with them, I already felt less stressed. Here is an interesting article I found discussing why and how dogs can help reduce stress.

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