For years there’s been debate over whether or not it’s dangerous to allow pets to climb into bed and sleep with us. While you’ve likely read numerous reports on the subject, doctors are warning that allowing your pets to sleep in your bed during shedding season could actually result in a plethora of health issues.
Spring is considered shedding season as animals lose the winter coats they put on in the fall to keep them warm over cold winter months. It’s the time of year we’re constantly sweeping, vacuuming, and busting out those lint-rolling brushes to de-hair our homes, furniture, and clothes.
U.K. bedding business Happy Beds teamed up with a physician to discuss the issue, and they got some scary answers.
But before we get into that, a recent study noted that 68 percent of pet owners allow their pets to enter their bedrooms, and 30 percent let them sleep in the same bed with them.
First off, there are a lot of common misconceptions about what it is that actually causes people to pick up illnesses or end up feeling cruddy after sleeping with pets. To jump straight to the point, it’s not their fur that’s the real culprit, but animal dander that can cause a variety of health problems.
Dander are tiny flakes of skin shed by humans and animals covered in fur, hair, or feathers. Once it is disturbed, the particles can then be inhaled, which can potentially cause breathing and lung issues for some people.
Dr. Deborah Lee of Dr. Fox Online Pharmacy acknowledged the seriousness of the problem saying, “Pet dander is a common cause of allergy in children and adults. Encountering pet dander can cause allergic rhinitis, dermatitis, hives, and asthma symptoms.
“When you breathe the animal dander particles into your lungs, your body’s immune cells recognize the dog or cat antigen as a foreign substance posing a threat to your health. As a result, an inflammatory reaction is initiated, and an antibody called Ig E is released.
“Cells called mast cells release histamine, which causes smooth muscle contraction, causing the airways to constrict, meaning you cannot get so much air into the lungs. Histamine also causes an increase in bronchial secretions and swelling. This is why pet-induced asthma gives you all those unpleasant asthma symptoms – cough, wheeze, and feel chest tightness, and shortness of breath.”
Getting back to the sleeping with pets stats, of those bed-sharing pets, 86 percent of canines and 32 percent of felines tested positive for Enterobacteriaceae on their fur or paw pads. That particular group of bacteria includes salmonella, E. coli, and shigella, which are all common causes of gastroenteritis in human beings. To take it a step further on the “ugh!” meter, 23 percent of dogs and 7 percent of cats were noted as having fleas.
Even if you don’t pick something up from sleeping with your best buds, excessive shedding can leave people more likely to experience allergies as the irritants build up. Whether or not you continue to sleep with your pets is a personal choice, but you may want to buy them their own beds to sleep in ’til summer rolls around.