INSIDE EDITION Investigates Diseases Carried by Pets

Lisa Guerrero spoke with some pet lovers who got serious infections from their four legged friends. INSIDE EDITION has more on what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

We love our pets and they love us too.

Many dog lovers even share their beds with their canine companions. But is this a hidden threat to our health?

Manhattan professional dog trainer Nikki Moustaki was alarmed when she came down with strep six times in one year.

But when her doctor learned she lets her furry friends snuggle in bed?

"My medical doctor said to me, have you tested the dogs for strep?" explained Moustaki.

That's right; Moustaki's doctor believed she may have contracted strep from her dogs.

In addition to strep, sleeping with your pets can also put you at risk for tape worm, ringworm, stomach and staph infections, and even meningitis.

But like many dog owners, including INSIDE EDITION's Chief Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero, most nights it's just too difficult kicking our furry companions off the bed. So to how can you better protect yourself? To find out, Guerrero went to visit Dr. Bernadine Cruz of the Laguna Hills Animal Clinic in California.

"After you're finished playing with your pet wash your hands," said Dr. Cruz.

Dr. Cruz says the risk of getting sick from your pet is real but can be minimized by keeping your dog vaccinated, groomed, and away from your face.

"As a vet, would you recommend letting our pets kiss us?" asked Guerrero.

"Don't let them French kiss you," commented Dr. Cruz.  

But that's hard advice for many people to follow, like Real House Wives of New York star Jill Zarin.

Zarin has no problem sharing a few affectionate smooches with her pooch, Ginger, who she let snuggle up on her bed nightly.

"I feel healthy and strong enough that if she did give me something, I would be able to fight it off," said Zarin.

We wanted to find out just what kind of diseases a typical dog may have, so we ran a few tests on a mutt named Stewie.

His owner, Justin Eschert, let us swab Stewie's muzzle, paws, and ears to check for bacteria.

We sent the samples to Micrim Labs, Inc. for an independent analysis, and guess what? Stewie's mouth was harboring dangerous bacteria, which when transmitted through pet licks can cause serious infections in humans.

Stewie also tested positive for E. coli and strep. But Justin wasn't phased at all.

"I want him to have the best life that he can possibly have. Letting him sleep in the bed. I'll take getting sick for that," said Eschert.