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New Canaan Daily Voice serves New Canaan, CT

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Let Sleeping Dogs Lie in Their Own Beds

Among the unparalleled pleasures of owning a dog or cat is snuggling up with them on the couch or bed. After all, they keep your feet warm and they rarely commandeer the remote.

But a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 's (CDC) Emerging Infectious Diseases study suggests that people who sleep with their dogs and cats are at greater risk of contracting parasites and other illnesses. The report states that among dog owners, 53 percent consider their dog to be a member of the family, and 56 percent of those dog owners admit they sleep with their dog next to them.

And kissing or letting your pets lick you can also be bad for your health. The report's veterinarians offer ways to reduce the threat of disease from pets. (Keep in mind, if your cat doesn't venture outside, he or she poses a nominal health risk to family-members.) The starting point is ensuring pets are healthy, by getting regular professional checkups and care. Here are some other tips.

* Young children or immunocompromised persons should be discouraged from sharing their beds with or regularly kissing their pets.

* Any area of the body licked by a pet, particularly an open wound, should be immediately washed with soap and water.

* Pets should be kept free of fleas, worms and other parasites, and should be regularly examined by a veterinarian.

Do you sleep with your pet, or let your pet sleep on furniture? If so, will this information change your dog and your behavior? Let me know.

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