Should Pets Sleep in Your Bed?
Should Pets Sleep in Your Bed?
Over 50 percent of dog owners in the United States consider their dog a member of the family and nearly that many let their dog sleep in or on their bed. Cats are an even more common bedfellow with 60 percent sleeping with their owners. Despite the popularity of bed sharing, it can be tough to decide whether to let your pet in bed or not. To help with the decision, we’ve laid out some of the health and safety issues as well as the benefits that come from sharing your bed with a beloved pet.
Cons: Health and Safety
The health and safety of you and your pet is a top concern. Unfortunately, anytime you invite an animal into close quarters there’s a risk of disease. Plague (yes, the plague that wiped out one-third the population of Europe), cat scratch disease, Pasteurella, and Staphylococcus are a few of the diseases that may be transmitted not to mention parasitic infections.
These diseases and infections can stem from flea bites, licking, or scratches. Animals that spend time both outside and inside increase their, and consequently your, exposure to disease. Despite this somewhat bleak and scary list, keep in mind that a pet who’s up-to-date on immunizations and flea treatments poses a very small risk of transmitting disease.
Because of the health issues associated with sharing your bed, people with compromised immune systems such as the very young, elderly, or someone with a chronic illness should not share a bed with a pet. Pet owners with allergies should also keep pets outside the bedroom to prevent dangerous inflammation of the airways while sleeping.
And last, but certainly not least, another body in the bed can make it hard to get seven to nine hours of sleep. Both you and your pet need sleep for appetite control, emotional balance, and physical strength. Lack of sleep interferes with your decision-making abilities and reaction times, which can be dangerous while driving or on the job. Of course, there are ways to counteract sleep interference like a motion-absorbing mattress or mattress topper. You’ll have to weigh whether a pet in the bed is worth the sleep lost.
Pros: Psychological Benefits and Well-Being
A pet in the bedroom adds an extra layer of security. In fact, that’s one of the number one reasons dog owners initially bring a dog into their home. The senses of an animal are fine-tuned for survival. That’s why pets can alert their owners of a fire or intruder long before any human is aware. That extra sense of security helps many people sleep better.
Pets often act as a second layer of social support. Studies have shown that pet owners consistently show higher rates of happiness, self-esteem, and social adjustment. Being in close proximity to your pet can cause the release of oxytocin, a hormone that increases feelings of compassion and attachment. The feelings of attachment often reduce symptoms of anxiety, which contributes to better sleep.
A busy work schedule can limit the time you get to spend with your pet. Sharing a bed increases bonding and makes everyone feel like part of the pack.
Is It Right for You?
If you’re on the fence, remember, you don’t necessarily have to have your pet in your bed to reap the benefits. A pet bed or crate in the corner can keep your furry friend nearby but still far enough away for optimum health and safety because, for many people, the pros far outweigh the cons.