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!