Monday, 21 April 2008

Do you sleep with your dog?

Fred Landeg, who is stepping down as the most senior government veterinary officer, says today in the Times that people need to be more aware that new and emerging diseases were just as likely to affect household pets as farm animals.
Dr Landeg, who is often on TV appearances explaining Asian flu, foot-and-mouth, and bluetongue outbreaks, said that pet dogs shouldn't be in the bedroom and that owners also should be vigilant about having pets in the kitchen.
I'm sorry, but was this man ever really a vet? Where does he expect us to keep our dogs - in a sterile room?
Besides the risk of unknown exotic diseases, Fred warns that dogs also carry common food poisoning bugs: campylobacter and salmonella.
The Times reveals that according to a survey of 260 households in a semi-rural town in the South Wirral, where most pets were Labradors or Jack Russells, almost 20 per cent of the animals slept in the bedroom and 14 per cent on a person’s bed.
In the Times Fred said: “When you look at new and emerging diseases many are zootic and passable from animals to man. We can think recently of Sars, which came from animals and another disease, the Hendra virus, from bats,” he said. “As a veterinary surgeon I would never advise people to keep dogs in their bedroom.”
Well what do you think of Fred's views folks? I'm booked to go on a load of BBC radio stations for their drivetime programmes to try to calm all this down a bit.
Will Fred's scaremongering stop you sharing your life with your dog?
I note he makes no mentions of the diseases the poor old dog can catch from us, or indeed all the many and varied diseases you can catch by sharing your bed with another human!
Do send me your anecdotes and tips for what to say so I can do my best this afternoon!
If you want to read the Times article in full click here.


bugs said...

This is so ridiculous. All my dogs have slept, not only in my bedroom, but sometimes, in my bed. One dog sleeps on/in the bed every night, and the other two sleep next to my bed, in their bed. They are also regularly in the kitchen, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The next thing, we will be told to wear gloves when handling our dogs, in case we pick up some infection. Wher is this man from???????????

Anonymous said...

My dogs sleep on and even in bed. I'm one of the few people at work who isn't off regularly with the human virus' that go round.

I must have a fantastic immune system which I put down to my dogs, because of them I have a healthy contact with germs ;-) and I get regular exercise in fresh air by walking them because I have to, even if I don't feel like it every day.

I didn't read the article yet but I fail to see the logic in this man's thinking.

Surely dangerous infectious diseases are passed on by air, physical contact or touching open wounds.

Is he genuinely suggesting that if my dog breathes, touches me, licks a scratch on my hand or I have to give first aid to bleeding wounds in the living room it won't matter. But any of those things in the bedroom will kill me?

As you mentioned, there are thousands of different diseases or infections I can catch from humans, serious and non-serious. There are very few can be caught from dogs.

If the day ever comes that dogs give us the same number of illnesses that humans do, I'll think about worrying about it.


PS I'm sure I've read plenty of studies which show that pet owners are generally much healthier than none-pet owners.

Anonymous said...

May be useful to remind them that science can 'prove' anything - and there is a 1990 study by the University of California that proved that dog saliva kills e-coli.

A google search will find it but in the meantime.....

"In a 1990 study done at the University of California, Davis, researchers found dog saliva killed E. coli and Streptococcus canis, another harmful bacteria. The scientists concluded that when mother dogs licked their nipples it helped keep puppies free from disease, and that dogs licking their own wounds accomplished the same goal."

Anonymous said...

I think what this man has said is just another attempt to blacken the dogs name so to speak. How many years have people been sleeping with their dogs? cooking/eating in the kitchen with their dog? Why now should we all be vigilant were the dog is? My dogs sleep at the bottom of my bed or in the hallway, my dogs eat in the kitchen which i'm not about to change. Our dogs are proberly cleaner and healthier then most people!

Lucy King said...

Mine sleeps under the bed or on the bed - its her choice. She is fed in bedroom or kitchen dep on time of day and sleeps in my car sometimes - should I ban her incase i get some nasty germs?

I think not.

Anonymous said...

I think it was Babra Woodhouse that was quoted saying " i've caught many things off other humans but never got anything from my dog licking me." This quote isn't 100% accurate as I'm going from memory.
If we can love and cuddle our dogs it's not worth owning them, so i'll contuine to run the risk. I hope this new wave of scaremongering dosen't put people off the rewards of dog ownership.
nicky T
p/s I must sort my id thingy out and stop posing as anonymous.

Julie Hill said...

I hope this isn't too late to be of any use to you but I've only just read your blog.
Both our dogs (Lab & Bichon) sleep on their own beds in our bedroom. They also make trips into the bathroom (blessings of a bungalow!) to sample bath water. We have far less stomach bugs than many people I know, but we do have a strict wash your hands before eating policy.
Our dogs are vaccinated, de-wormed and de-flead as well as groomed, and when necessary bathed. Just as importantly their bedding is washed regularly.
Germs are eveywhere - the key is keeping the house safe by regular (not obsessive by any means!) cleaning and washing.
Also (and I hope this doesn't offend anyone) what on earth is the point of having a dog who is only allowed in the flaming utility room? What is he - a status symbol or burglar alarm? It seems to me when people keep their dogs out of the main house they and the dog miss out on so much.
Take reasonable precautions and get on with loving your dogs is what I say.
Good luck on the radio Beverley,

Flowerpot said...

there was a piece in the Telegraph last week saying exactly the same thing Beverley! Our dog sleeps on the floor beside our bed and the cat sleeps on the duvet, usually occupying half the bed while my husband and I are squashed in the other half...

TonyH said...

The dangers of cross species transfer of viruses, like SARS, Avain Flu, and various other flu related viruses that have come from animals is where a viral disease that normally only affects one species is caught by extremely close contact with humans. When a serious high mortality virus is caught by a human being it can mutate into one that can be spread between humans. However, I am aware of no deadly viruses in the canine population waiting to jump species, so it seems alarmist at best to try and connect dogs with SARS and Hendra virus.

Jill Crow said...

We do not live in a sterile world. All our dogs sleep in the bedroom/on the bed at night and during the day if they want to. I think that anybody with school aged children would agree that you are more likely to catch a 'bug' or virus from the school environment that you are from your dogs! It's no wonder we have so many problems, our bodies are not allowed to build up any form of natural imunity!

Beverley Cuddy said...

Just finished I think it was 18 radio interviews, that vet has certainly spooked a lot of people.

I reckon he had an Edwina Currie moment.

Barb said...

I have seven dogs, 5 of which sleep on my bed every night. The other two sleep around the house where they want to. Also, 3, out of my seven cats sleep on the bed. (ahh, that may be the reason why I have no life! lol)

tamsino said...

I'd be more worried about catching something from the human I share a bed with.

HandH said...

SARS was believed to have crossed the species barrier after people ate civet cats. Eating your pets obviously isn't healthy, keeping animals and humans in overcrowded conditions isn't healthy, but for the average Westerner to share a bedroom with their dog - is probably boosting their immune system so they don't get auto-immune disease in later life.

karen said...

Ha! This vet must be joking...I'm in the US - we are reading more and more about children being ill precisely because they are being raised in sterile environments and do not develop adequate immune systems. My dog sleeps in my room - sometimes he is on the bed for a snuggle - but he's healthy, well-fed, vaccinated, etc. He forces me out in fresh air for long walks every day, keeps my blood pressure down...I'm thinking I'm much better off with him in the house as a full member of the family. I'm so luck to be "Labadored."