Should Dogs Sleep on Your Bed?
Pet owners don’t always agree on whether it’s a good idea to let your dogs sleep in your bed or not. There are both benefits and drawbacks to letting dogs sleep in your bed. But the bottom line is, if you want to do it, you should.
How Many Dogs Sleep in Beds?
Dog owners are just about split down the middle on allowing dogs to sleep in their beds. About half of dog owners sleep with their dog in bed at night. However, not all dog owners say it’s always on purpose, as about 16 percent of dog owners say their dog sneaks into bed with them every now and then.
Dog owners are more likely to allow small dogs to sleep in their bed. That makes sense, of course, as space may be limited, and the movement of larger dogs at night may be more disruptive to sleep.
How Dog Owners Can Benefit From Sleeping With Pets
Sleeping with your dog can offer several benefits, which may help you and your dog get better rest, feel more emotionally connected, and sleep feeling safer at night.
You may feel more comfortable sleeping with your dog next to you. They can offer warmth, security, and relieve separation anxiety in your dog (or you). If it’s cold at night, your dog’s body heat may help you stay warmer. And if you’re used to sleeping with a partner in bed but they aren’t with you, a dog may help you fill the void left behind that can make you feel uncomfortable going to sleep and staying asleep. Your dog may even offer you a sense of protection from any night time dangers. This can offer a better night of sleep as you feel more secure while you’re resting.
If you work during the day and don’t get a lot of time to spend with your dog, sleeping together can help you make up the time at night. It’s a good way to build a stronger bond and companionship as you sleep next to each other at night.
But is it Safe to Sleep With Dogs?
Although sleeping with your dog at night can offer benefits, it is not without risk. Transmission of disease between dogs and humans is possible, though it is rare. Generally, if you’re in good health and so is your pet, your health risk is very low.
However, you should be sure to stay on top of vaccines and checkups for both you and your dog to reduce the risk of disease transmission and support overall good health. But if you’re immunocompromised (from cancer treatment, a recent transplant, or other condition), you will be at a greater risk of disease transmission from your dog and should rethink sleeping with your dog at night.
Keep in mind that when you sleep with your dog, you’re not just exposed to any diseases they may carry within their body, you’re exposed to what they carry in on their fur as well. Dogs may have allergens, bacteria, and viruses present on their fur even if they show no signs of illness. And those same allergens, bacteria, and viruses are brought into your bed when they come in to sleep with you.
Tips for Sleeping With Your Dog at Night
Bathe your dog regularly. It’s impossible to eliminate every piece of dirt, potential allergen or bacteria present on your dog’s fur, but bathing can help reduce it. Bathing your dog daily may dry out their skin, but you should make bathing a regular practice, especially if they’re sharing your bed.
Have clear boundaries. You may enjoy sleeping with your dog occasionally, but that doesn’t have to mean you invite them into your bed every time you’re there. Sometimes, a well behaved canine bed partner has a rough night of tossing and turning, scratching, or just generally being disruptive to sleep, and you may need your own space. Give your dog their own comfortable place to sleep, and if you’re ever not comfortable sleeping with your dog, be assertive in letting them know they need to sleep in their own bed for that night.
Make it easy for your dog to sleep with you. Elderly dogs may find it difficult to get into bed with you, especially if your mattress is set up high. Consider steps for your dog that will allow them to easily get in and out of bed, or use an adjustable bed that you can adjust to make it easier on them.
Meet their needs before bed. Whether your dog is sleeping in your bed or not, they can disrupt your sleep if they have needs in the night. Needing to go out, hunger, or just a general need for attention may cause them to bother you while you’re trying to sleep. Make sure they’re comfortable and ready to rest at night before you head off to snuggle in bed.
Sleeping with your dog at night can be comforting and offer a chance to bond and build greater companionship, but it’s not always perfect. Understand the risks and make sure you and your dog are comfortable when you share a bed together at night.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.