It's the question pet owners struggle with the most. A survey was done by the American Pet Products Association, which revealed that almost half of all dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. Moreover, another study shows that 52% of pets sleep at their owner’s feet, 11% sleep on the pillow, 23% sleep next to owners, and 14% burrow under the covers.
While you may love having your pet sleep in your bed to give you a sense of security and get that comforting feeling, sometimes it may not be the best option.
Read on to learn when it’s healthy to sleep with a pet and cases where pets may need to be off-limits.
When Should Pets Not be Allowed in Your Bed?
Although sleeping with pets is common, sometimes it may not be the healthiest option. Some of the reasons behind this include:
While you may not be allergic to your dog, the truth is that all dogs carry allergens. Your pets are exposed to different allergens like dust and pollen. When they go out for a walk or a break, these allergens stick on their paws or fur and release them on your bed, something that could expose you to those allergies. You may end up sneezing or having a stuffy nose every time you head to bed.
If you suffer from allergies, having your pets sleep with you could aggravate these symptoms. One surprising thing is that cat allergies are more common than dog allergies. However, it’s not the hair or fur that most people are allergic to. It’s the urine, dander, and saliva.
Some dogs tend to develop aggressive behavior once you allow them to sleep on your bed or the kid’s bedroom. For example, notice that your dog’s behavior changes every time someone else comes into the room. That could be because he may be thinking of protecting you, assuming you are in a vulnerable position.
Pets tend to carry infections like meningitis and staph infections like MRSA. Most of these bacteria are present in the saliva and mouth, which means you may be exposed to them when your cat or dog licks you. The risk increases if you let the dog get so close to you every night.
You’ll notice that some pets are more active at night rather than during the day, something that could interfere with your sleep schedule. Although you may get used to disturbances once in a while, having the issue prolonged could lead to other problems like restlessness at night and trouble falling back asleep.
If you have trouble sleeping throughout the night due to pet disturbances, you should reevaluate your choices.
Safety is another reason why you should not allow your pets in bed. That’s why pet expert advice on crate training to help your dog get used to its space. Having a little pup on your bed may seem like an excellent idea, but it could lead to a potential danger like him falling off the bed or you hurting him when asleep.
When Should Pets be Allowed in Your Bed?
Despite the negative consequences of co-sleeping with your dog or cat, it turns out there may be some benefits of sleeping with your pet. Here are some instances where you can allow pets in your bed.
Research carried out by Mayo Clinic showed that 41% of pet owners felt that sharing a bed with their pets would enhance their sleep. A certain percentage felt that sleeping with their pet helped them feel secure and comfortable.
A study by Sleep Review Mag shows that having a dog in the bed can help ease anxiety-induced insomnia. The research showed that sleeping with a dog could modify hypervigilance and hyperarousal, something that mitigates anxiety. That creates a better environment for sleep.
Allowing your pet to sleep with you could help strengthen the bond between you two. A study on attachment behavior in dogs reveals that dogs feel an attachment to their owners in the same way a child feels towards their parents.
Studies also show that separation, even for a night, can cause anxiety. Letting your cat or dog sleep in your bed can help him sleep well, knowing that you are close.
Should Children Share a Bed With Pets?
Toddlers and young children love sleeping with the family pet. However, parents are advised against having a child younger than six years sleep alone with a pet. Dogs can smother an infant and entrap your child, causing injuries, while cats carry infections and can scratch. Pets also carry parasites, especially if they haven’t been vaccinated. Children with a weakened immune system are easily exposed and get sick.
You’ll notice that some kids are involved in rough play and may pull a pet’s tail. All these are signs that your child may not be ready to sleep with a pet. Some cats and dogs will become defensive and strikeout.
Most children also suffer from allergies, and having a pet around their bed could aggravate these allergies. Although it might comfort your child to have the pet around, it will have detrimental effects later on.
Some pets can also be cranky and antsy at night, a situation that can disturb your child’s sleep. Disrupted sleep could lead to crankiness and lethargy, a problem you don’t want to deal with daily.
Should you have pets or no pets in your bed? The decision is based on an individual’s preferences. In some cases, allowing your dog on the bed can be dangerous as it can disrupt your sleep or reinforce aggressive behavior. However, research also shows that sleeping with your pet can help strengthen the bond, make you more comfortable, and help you sleep. The choice will depend on your pet as all of them are different and have varying needs. You need to decide and set some co-sleeping rules to continue having your pet on the bed.