By Paula EbbenBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – Whether it’s a dog or cat, pets become a member of the family. But health concerns are raised when some pet owners take that relationship too far.

WBZ-TV’s Paula Ebben reports

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When Chrissey Crew of Nashua gets her five dogs ready for bed at night, she’s getting them ready for her bed. They all sleep together. “I consider them full fledged members of our family,” said Crew.

That’s a pretty common sentiment. A new survey shows 56% of dog owners let their dogs sleep next to them.

Dr. Bruno Chomel, a veterinarian, said “Sometimes we forget that they aren’t our children. They are pets and also have their own lives, and there are diseases that can be transmitted.”

Dr. Chomel is one of the lead authors of a study just published by the Centers for Disease Control. They tracked people who had close contact with their pets, either by sleeping next to them, or allowing their animal to lick and kiss them.

In rare instances, researchers found pet owners caught some pretty scary illnesses, such as the plague, rabies, bacterial infections, meningitis, cat scratch fever, ring worm, and intestinal parasites.

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“Some can be very dangerous, “added Dr. Chomel.

The most vulnerable people are the very young, the elderly, and those who have a weakened immune system.

Dr. Chomel said, “You always think it will never happen to me, but when it happens to you it can be very sad, and very bad.”

It was for Eric Marlowe Garrison. He caught a terrible case of ring worm from his roommate’s cat. “The experience was pretty awful,” he said,

Despite the negative reports Chrissey remains steadfast about where her dogs are going to sleep. “My pets will continue to sleep with my husband and I forever, we love it,” she said with a laugh.

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Experts say the most important thing to do is make sure your pet is free of ticks and fleas, both of which can transmit disease. Also limit your contact if your pet appears sick.

Paula Ebben