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Does anyone really know why their pet should or shouldn’t sleep in bed with them?
I think not!
Each of us thinks we know why we’re for or against sharing the bed with our pet, but in truth, we have no idea. Where does your pet spend the night? Where should it sleep? Does it matter where your pet sleeps?
Before we dive deeper, this article isn’t to glorify or shame any side. I have no issues if one (or more) of you sharing the bed happens to be a pet, so long as everyone feels comfortable and safe in it.
Allowing Kiki or Max to sleep in your bed or a separate bed will not make it more ‘dominant’ or create behavior problems that weren’t there before.
Yes! your bed might get messy and smelly, however, if that’s the least of your worries, here are other factors you should consider when deciding whether or not to let your pet sleep in bed with you.
Let’s get one question out of the way.
Why do people share a bed with their pets?
There’s no universal answer to this question, however, if you’re one of the numerous people that make space for their pet every night, you know it feels like having a warm, fluffy teddy bear near to you.
Once started, it can be quite tough to break the cycle for both of you, especially if you’re in a bad relationship or single and need companionship.
Aside from the love and attention dogs and cats – to some degree – shower their owners while they’re awake, they provide extra warmth on those cold nights you feel like curling into a ball.
Dogs in particular create a sense of safety from potential intruders and security, especially for people that feel uncomfortable sleeping in the dark.
That sounds… positive all through. Why do some people oppose letting the dog or cat sleep in the bed?
9 reasons your pet should not sleep in your bed.
1. You could get scratched.
Cat-scratch disease is a mildly infectious disease with flu-like symptoms that occurs when you get scratched by a cat. The disease can make you very sick and can affect your spleen, liver, and kidneys.
Most times, just getting licked by your cat or sleeping next to it is enough to pass the disease. Even if your cat or dog is healthy, you are still at risk of being bitten or clawed when you unconsciously pin your pet to the bed, especially if you’re the type of sleeper that rolls from one edge to another.
2. You could catch the bubonic plague.
That’s right. Bubonic plague isn’t confined to European history books never to be seen again. The fleas that spread this disease can hop from cats and dogs to their human owners. Sleeping next to your pet further increases the risk of catching it.
There were 23 cases of human bubonic plague cases between 1977 to 1998 that could be traced to the family pet! Unfortunately, 5 of those cases were fatal. While the disease is no longer a death sentence, the symptoms are not pretty.
This is one reason why you need to ensure your pet is getting regular medical checkups to avoid these diseases. Plus, you need to deal with annoying flea infestation and take preventive measures to keep fleas from coming back.
3. Say hi to your new tenants – parasites.
As a responsible pet owner that you are, you make sure your pet’s health is taken care of. You get your pet to exercise and perform stress-releasing activities. You visit the vet when necessary and order heartworm medications because you know how sick and stressful a dog gets from a parasite like roundworms, fleas, or hookworm.
However, how often do you do the same for yourself?
If your pet has a parasite like roundworms, the parasite’s eggs are likely on its fur. These eggs could fall on the sheets when your pet snuggles with you. When you treat your pet for roundworms, make sure to wash out its litter box with bleach and wash the sheets with hot water to kill any parasite eggs.
4. Your pet could pass meningitis and staph infections.
While meningitis is more common on college campuses where everyone is living in tight quarters, your pet could be carrying the infection, and the closer both of you are, the higher the chances of transmission.
Another one you should worry about is staph infection like MRSA. MRSA is a drug-resistant bacteria that is very difficult to treat. Family pets such as dogs and cats can harbor this bacteria in the mouth and saliva.
Letting your pet sleep in the bed with you makes it more likely that you’ll get licked – at least once or twice in the morning.
5. Not the best choice if you have allergies.
“But, I’m not allergic to my dog!”
That may be true, however, your pet might bring pollens, dust, and other environmental allergens to the bed. Who knows where and what your dog has been playing with while you were away?
If you are the type of person that develops severe allergic reactions, then the best way to reduce your symptoms and make your bedroom an allergy-free zone, is to restrict the pet’s access to your room, purchase a quality HEPA filter, and use protective, waterproof hypoallergenic covers for your pillows and mattress.
6. Chocolates, anyone?
“Nine out of ten people love chocolate, the tenth is lying.” Everyone loves chocolate, but this isn’t about that chocolate!
Before you say “my dog gets me… we totally understand each other” or “cats know how to handle their business” remember that accidents do happen – medical conditions, illness, etc.
And of course, you know that accidents don’t let you choose the time or location. Your pet might leave poop or urine on your pillow, the bedroom floor, or hop onto your bed with filthy paws. Guess where that ends up? On you!
Aside from making you sick, have you ever had the misfortune of steam cleaning a mattress?
You can throw your pet’s bed or cover into the washing machine, but regular bedding, uh-uh! It’s even worse if there’s no water-proof material protecting the mattress from leakage.
7. Not-So-Sweet Dreams.
Pets can disturb you at night, even if you consider yourself a deep sleeper. While dogs often fidget and are likely to snore, twitch, or run in their sleep, cats aren’t any better.
As nocturnal animals, cats will try to wake you at night to tend to them by sitting or pawing your face while you’re trying to rack in hours of refreshing sleep.
Even pets that are capable of sleeping through the night might occasionally scratch, stretch, or “dig” into the covers in search of a comfortable position, or they might get up at odd hours to patrol the house, take a piss, or drink water.
All of these pet movements and habits can interrupt your sleep cycle, which will lower your immune system response, make you cranky as well as decrease your alertness throughout the day.
8. Not safe for your kids.
If after reading all the risks listed before this one, you still think letting Fluffy sleep in bed with you isn’t bad for your health, at least make sure that your kid doesn’t snuggle up with your baby or child.
Aside from your pet displaying aggressive or possessive behavior, letting it sleep in your child’s room puts your child at risk of a scratch or unprovoked bite and breathing problem if it rolls on top of the child.
9. It affects intimacy between couples.
Proximity and physical touch are important ingredients for maintaining intimacy and ‘connection’ between couples.
So… what is the pet’s crime here?
Letting your pet sleep in bed between you and your partner increases the distance between both of you. On the surface level, this might not seem like a problem, after all, you can hug or you’re your partner during the day.
However, when you consider the psychological aspect of it, having a dog or cat sleep in bed between you and your spouse is similar to sleeping in separate rooms. The pet becomes a psychological barrier that prevents you from bonding with your spouse.
To foster the relationship between you, your partner, and the pet, it’s best to have the pet sleep at the lower part of the bed or on the side of one person.
Letting your pet sleep on the bed with you isn’t entirely bad for your health, there are a good number of benefits.
4 Benefits only those that curl up with their pet would understand
1. Reduced stress.
People who have trouble getting a good night’s sleep often experience stress, anxiety, and depression too.
I don’t have an explanation for it, but pets promote feelings of calm and relief. Their presence can be quite assuring and helps reduce stress.
Scientists believe that stroking a pet raises the level of oxytocin (the chemical that helps couples bond) in our body, which in turn makes us feel good and counteracts anxious thoughts associated with sleep-onset insomnia.
2. A greater sense of security.
Letting your pet sleep in bed with you can make you feel safer at night, both physically and emotionally.
Other than companionship, the other important reason most people get a dog is for safety reasons, and having your dog close when you’re asleep – your most vulnerable state – helps fulfill this need.
A pet makes a great substitute for many people that feel better sleeping with someone else in the bed when their partners are away, people that are single or in a bad relationship.
The feeling is quite similar to having a teddy bear, however, your light-sleeping canine or feline friend will alert you of any suspicious activities, so you can deep rest through the night.
3. Warmth and comfort.
You know how easy it is to fall asleep close to a person that is already sleeping peacefully, pets have the same effects.
The rhythmic breathing and warmth of a pet’s body have a soothing effect that lulls you, like a feather slowly falling through the air, into a deep sleep.
Pets, especially big dogs, usually have a body temperature that is 3 or 5 degrees higher than ours, thus making them a safer version of an electric blanket.
Keep in mind that you need a room temperature in the mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit for quality, rejuvenating sleep. If you’re letting your pet sleep in bed with you, then make sure to set the thermostat a few degrees cooler.
4. Stronger emotional bond.
If you spend a large chunk of the day away from your pet, then allowing your pet to sleep in bed with you can help increase the emotional bond between both of you.
However, this should be done on your terms. Your pet has to see sleeping on the bed with you as a privilege, not its right.
This means it should be able to stay on the floor for at least 10 minutes, until you signal for it to join you, instead of the pet jumping onto the bed as soon as it has access to the bedroom.
You won’t change your mind, will you?
Although the dangers of sleeping with your dog or cat outweigh the benefits, most of them rarely occur.
Trust me, it all boils down to personal preference! We could have a similar argument about sleeping with the light on or off.
If you won’t change your mind, that’s good. It wasn’t my intention to make you do so anyway!
However, if you want your pet to join you on the bed, use impermeable hypoallergenic covers on your bed to reduce the effects of accidents.
If you plan to move your pet in the other direction – from your bed to its bed – consider getting a quality memory foam so it doesn’t miss the comfort of your bed.
Bottom line, whether your pet is allowed to sleep in the bed with you or not, make sure that you and your pet are getting regular medical checkups, eating healthy, and exercising your minds and bodies.