WILLOUGHBY, Ohio - It's the best feeling to get unconditional love from a family pet. But could that extra love and attention be unhealthy?
Half of pet owners sleep with their dogs. But experts say, having a dog cuddle in bed with you can make you very sick.
Dr. Lynn Proctor from Banfield, a pet hospital in Willoughby, said if you don't watch closely, you can put yourself at risk. Proctor said she believes in preventative health care for your pet, so they and you aren't ever at risk for sickness.
"You pet the animal, you go somewhere outside, you wash your hands. And keeping your house clean and cleaning your bed sheets every couple of days," Proctor said.
Some local primary care doctors said they are seeing more pet-related illnesses in their patients lately. Some even said they believe it could be from that close contact in bed. They are treating everything from fleas, to worms to meningitis, according to some experts.
Now, with the weather breaking and such a mild winter we've had, fleas and ticks are a problem, too. Tick bites can lead to Lyme disease, which can cause everything from flu-like symptoms to paralysis.
Experts said it's very important to clean up after your pet every day. Humans coming in contact with feces is just some of what causes the transmission of illness from a pet to their family. Proctor said you need to make sure you protect yourself while you're cleaning.
"If we're not cleaning our hands and we're cleaning the stool out in the yard we may get— if we don't clean our hands really well— if there's any eggs or if there are live hookworms in the ground. That's how we pick it up. That is the one worm that can burrow into your skin."
Hookworms are noticeable on a dog that is infected. The parasite gives the dog a very unhealthy appearance, they have no appetite, and they will be pale colored around their nostrils, lips and ears. Hookworms can kill your dog if they aren't treated by the vet. If you get the parasite, it can make you very sick, as well.
Tapeworms are mainly found in the intestines, but sometimes tapeworm infections have no symptoms. It will depend on the type of tapeworm you have and its location. An invasive tapeworm infection means the larvae may have moved to other parts of the body.
If you notice your pet has some hair loss formed into a patch on their coat, that's a sign of ringworm. Ringworm is another illness that is easily passed on to people. Ringworm is a fungus and it's contagious.
Make sure your pet is getting the proper veterinarian care on a regular basis and proper preventative care, too. That preventative care can stop the illness before it even starts. Check with your vet and make sure your pet is updated on all their shots every year.