Strange bedfellows? UK vet-czar says NO to dogs and cats in bed
OK, you know I’m going to send this guy to you-know-where on this issue. I really don’t think I’ve ever heard an opinion uttered by a high-ranking veterinary official which relied less on science than on good old-fashioned fear-mongering.
Dr. Fred Landeg thinks we humans shouldn’t bed down with pets or let them in the kitchen(!)—just in case they carry diseases. He cites the Hendra virus from bats and SARS which came from wild felines.
Last time I checked, I wasn’t sharing a bed (or a meal, for that matter) with either.
Transmission of diseases like Avian Influenza, more likely to jump species into our canine and feline companions, has never been reported. Even MRSA is still only rarely cited as transmissible, and far more likely to come from your human bedfellow(s). (Check out Christie Keith's excellent article on MRSA and MRSI for more info.)
Sure, I caution my immune-compromised clients (chemo patients, transplant recipients and HIV-positive individuals, for example) to consider sleeping alone because transmission of the simplest diseases has certainly been known to occur in these extreme cases.
But the rest of us? Puh-lease.
The science is way lacking on Dr. Landeg’s admonitions. The only real science he cites? A study out of Liverpool reporting that 14% of dogs sleep on their owners’ beds and another, commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, reporting on the potential health risks from daily interaction with dogs.
Somehow, I still fail to see the connection between transmissible disease and the sharing of sheets.
And how about the other studies? He largely overlooks the plethora of excellent studies on the positive effects of enjoying a close, potentially bed-sharing connection with pets: reduced blood pressure, increased lifespans after heart attacks, reduced allergies and asthma in children who cohabitate with pets from an early age…
But it’s true. Even if several concurring studies pointed to increased rates of certain diseases, I probably wouldn’t quit sleeping next to my dogs. When you live alone in Miami, there’s nothing that keeps you safer than a warm-bodied, snuggling alarm system. I can’t imagine any disease risk that beats the rewards of a dog in bed.
As a man of science, Dr. Landeg would so well to keep his opinions to himself and do the job he was hired to do. Intruding into our households without the science to back up his ostensible protection of our public health is not the role of a top veterinary official.
Just keep out of MY bedroom, Dr. Landeg!