Is it safe to share your bed with your pet? Are there any health risks to letting your dog or cat sleep with you? Good news, pet lovers! According to a recent study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, having a canine companion in the bedroom did not necessarily compromise sleep quality, as was previously suspected. This study discovered that many pet owners actually find comfort and a sense of security from sleeping with their pets. On average, pet owners with dogs in their rooms maintained 83% sleep efficiency — which is considered satisfactory. However, sleep quality did suffer a bit when pet owners sleep with their dogs in their beds.
Health Benefits of Sleeping with Your Pet
There’s no denying that pets may disturb your sleep. But that’s not looking at the whole picture, because sleeping with your pet, if he’s a good sleeping buddy, can impart benefits as well.
- Greater sense of security
Sharing a bed with your dog and cat can ease anxiety and provide a feeling of security. A survey revealed that many of those surveyed who slept with a dog in their beds had stronger feelings of security and comfort than those who slept with a human partner.
- Reduced stress
Pets may help with sleep disorders. Sleep professionals claim that our pets could help us to get a better sleep. Studies have shown that dog–owner interaction often results in increasing oxytocin levels in owners and dogs. This hormone helps your body feel more relaxed, easing stress, and helping you fall asleep.
- Better emotional bond
Just like sleeping with a human partner can increase intimacy, so can sleeping with your furry companion. If you work a typical schedule, your pet spends much of his day alone. Sleeping with you can help your pet feel more part of the pack.
Drawbacks of Sleeping with Your Pet
According to a research by the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine, 41% of the participants said they had no effect or even a positive effect on their sleep, but 20% did say their pets disturbed their sleep, at least sometimes. There’s no doubt that having a furry companion in your bed could hurt your sleep quality. Other disadvantages to having a pet in your bed include:
- Increases risk of disease
Even if you’re not allergic to your pet, your pet spends more time outside interacting with things which could pose health risks. If your pet is infected with ticks or fleas, cat scratch disease, ringworm or even staph infections, they can simply pass it on to you in your sleep.
Our pets aren’t exactly clean, but if we keep our pets up to date on vaccinations and flea medication and they are otherwise healthy, sleeping with pets can be a great idea.
- Aggravates pet allergies and asthma
Sleeping with a pet can aggravate asthma or allergies in those susceptible to it. If you or your partner has allergies to pets, not only should your pet not sleep in your bed, but the bedroom should be a pet-free zone. Sleeping in a bedroom that has pet allergens spread throughout it can worsen an allergic person's symptoms. The issue with pet allergens is that they aren’t isolated to your pet’s body. They can adhere to other surfaces such as clothing and bedding, and remain inflammatory to people with allergies even when the pet has left the bedroom. Although you may not be allergic to pet dander, pets often pick up and carry other allergens such as pollen and grass.
- Causes dominance and aggression
Sharing your bed with your pet can create or intensify dominance and aggression issues in both canines and felines. This is because your pet will see sleeping together as an element that he can control. From his point of view, you are granting him more territory on a physically higher space.
If your pet already has a dominance issue, co-sleeping is not a good decision. Instead, provide your pet with his own sleeping space while you consult with a professional trainer or a veterinarian.
Should You Sleep with Your Dog or Cat?
There are no hard and fast rules about whether your pet should or shouldn't sleep with you.
Only you can determine whether you're comfortable with the idea of sleeping with your dog in the bed, but as for whether your pooch can handle it, Vetstreet suggests he should meet a few basic criteria.
- He can sleep through the night without needing a potty break. It’s important to make sure your pet is housetrained before allowing him to share your bed with you.
- He's neither so tiny that you might accidentally harm him nor so huge that he might accidentally harm you.
- He can remain in his own bed or crate without whining or crying to be let out.