Should You Let Pets Sleep in Your Bed?
Nearly two thirds of all U.S. households have at least one pet. An overwhelming number of those furry friends are considered family members or companions, so it’s no surprise many of them find their way into an owner’s bed at night. But should pets sleep with you? The research varies, and studies show both risks and benefits to sleeping with your pet. Consider the pros and cons of sharing your bed before you snuggle up with your pet.
Benefits of Sleeping With Pets
Pet ownership has many well documented benefits for humans and animals. People with pets tend to be happier and healthier—they have less anxiety, decreased blood pressure, and increased production of hormones related to physical and mental well-being. Many people who welcome their pet into bed report they sleep better because they enjoy:
Companionship to substitute for lack of a partner or partner who is away from home
Risks of Sleeping With Pets
Although pets may help some people sleep better, other people report their pet bothers them at night. A 2013 study reported that 10% of people complained about their bed-sharing pets. While an annoying bedfellow might not be intolerable, it can still cause you to lose some Zzz’s. People have noted several reasons their pet disturbs their sleep, such as:
Snoring, whimpering, or other noises
Movement, either in the bed or around the room
The need to go outdoors
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there is a small possibility of passing zoonotic diseases—those transferred from animals to humans—while sharing a bed with a pet. If your dog or cat is healthy, it’s uncommon, but still possible to catch a disease or parasite while sleeping with your pet. For people with a compromised immune system, the CDC warns against sleeping with pets.
In addition to health risks, some veterinarians suggest it might also be a bad idea to have your dog sleeping in bed with you because of behavior issues. Aggression and housebreaking can be a problem with some puppies allowed to sleep in bed with an owner. If you really want to sleep with your dog, make sure to wait until after your dog is completely housebroken and behaviorally mature.
Minimizing Risks and Sleep Disturbances
If you allow your dog in bed with you, take your dog—or any other co-sleeping pet—for regular veterinary visits and keep all vaccinations up to date. Also, be sure to use medication to prevent fleas and ticks, as well as treat illnesses. If your pet is disturbing you, consider a different arrangement. You may also want to consult a sleep therapist about ways to snooze more soundly at night.