Should Your Pets Sleep in Your Bed?
Did you know that in the United States over 85 million families own at least one pet?* With American’s love of animals, there are many people and many families that allow their pets to sleep in their beds with them. 42% of all dog owners and 62% of all cat owners enjoy a nighttime snuggle with their furry friends.* With all that cuddling going on, one question seems to be at the forefront of every pet owner’s mind. Is it safe for your pet to sleep in your bed with you?
Can Pets in the Bed Affect Behavior?
The discussion surrounding sleeping in your bed affecting your pet’s behavior is mainly focused around the Dominance Theory. This theory asserts that misbehavior exhibited by animals is their attempt to assert dominance in the pack.*
Whilst some pets, like dogs, do operate in packs and take instruction from a ‘pack leader,’ many experts have concluded that there is in fact, no evidence that misbehavior from your pet is an act of dominance.* In fact, if your animals are not already displaying problems with aggression, allowing them on the bed is very unlikely to modify this behavior.* That being said, if allowed on or in your bed, it is possible that they may want to sit on other furniture around the home in order to be with you. If that’s the case and you don’t want that behavior, you just have to teach them where they can and can’t lay. With training and reinforcement, they will understand and respect your space.
Pets in Your Bed - What About Health?
For years it was rumored that pets could pass diseases on to their owners through sleeping together in the same bed.* Although this has been thoroughly debunked, there are a few things to keep in mind when inviting your furry friend into bed with you.
First, take into consideration the health of your animal. Common creepy crawlers and allergens can be passed from pets to humans through contact.* If your furry friend is an outdoor animal or has recently taken a long trek through the yard, farm, or woods, it would be in your best interest to bathe and check your pet’s skin for critters and infestations. Vaccines and yearly check-ups should be part of your routine to ensure your pet’s health, as well as your own.
Next, assess the health of the human companions. Humans in good health should have no issue sleeping with their pets. However, anyone who is immunosuppressed, such as those battling cancer, having received a recent organ transplant, or who are HIV positive should avoid sleeping in beds with pets. This is due to the body’s inability to fight infection and increased chances of catching a disease.*
Should I let my pet sleep with my child?
The portrayal in the media of pets sleeping with children is extensive. Does that mean you should let your kids and pets sleep together in the same bed? Well, the consensus is similar to that of adults and animals. As a general rule, children aged 6 and under should not sleep with pets without supervision.* This is both for the safety of the child, as well as the animal. Just as with adults, if your pet is typically outside, roaming or otherwise, check for those creepy crawlers. Immunosuppressed children should also avoid sleeping with pets.*
So, what’s the conclusion?
Overall, it is perfectly safe to sleep with your pets. As long as both parties are healthy, there’s nothing wrong with it. That being said, there are a few more suggestions we have before you take the leap.
- If you wake up easily, sleeping with your pet may not be the best plan as your furry friend may move more than you wish they did and wake you up.
- Animals have very strong senses of smell. If your pet wants to stay with you and you’d rather sleep alone, try placing a shirt with your scent on it in their bed.
- If you choose to sleep with your pet, we strongly recommend investing in a set of bamboo viscose sheets. Not only are they cooler than cotton, but bamboo viscose is hypoallergenic. This means that even with your furry friend in the bed, your sheets will resist odors, stains, and common household non-living allergens. That’s less cleaning, and more time spent cuddling with your pet!
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Pet ownership statistics. Elderly Pet Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://elderlypet.org/pet-ownership-statistics/.
Lastoe, S., Migala, J., Rapaport, L., Chai, C., Asp, K., Rauf, D., & Upham, B. (2022). Sharing a bed with your pet: Is it a good idea? EverydayHealth.com. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/pet-health/allowing-dogs-in-bed.aspx.
Schwecherl, L. (2021, June 3). New Study says sharing a room with your dog won't disrupt sleep. Sleepopolis. Retrieved from https://sleepopolis.com/news/dog-in-bed-study/#:~:text=More%20and%20more%20Americans%20are,sleep%20in%20bed%20with%20them.
Farricelli, A. (2013, August 12). What is dog dominance theory? PetHelpful. Retrieved from https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Whats-Dog-Dominance-Theory.
RSPCA KNOWLEDGEBASE. RSPCA Knowledgebase. (2018, November 9). Retrieved from https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-the-rspcas-view-on-dominance-dog-training/.
Sleeping with pets: Benefits and risks. Sleep Foundation. (2022, March 11). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/animals-and-sleep/sleeping-with-pets.