Photo by Burst
Originally Posted On: https://www.consumervoice.org/articles/pros-and-cons-of-sleeping-with-pets-in-your-bed
When it comes to your furry best friend there’s no doubt that you love doing everything together. From hanging out on the couch to enjoying an afternoon run, having your dog beside you can increase your happiness and make you feel less alone. But when it comes time to go to bed each night, should you be calling Fido up for some late night snuggles? Or, is it time to invest in a dog bed so your pooch can sleep on their own?
Dog owners can be extremely divided when the topic of co-sleeping comes up, and with so many opinions out there, how do you know what to believe? This article will take a look at some of the main pros that come along with co-sleeping, and will also cover some of the reasons why it may not always be recommended. So, before making up your mind, keep reading to learn the top pros and cons of sleeping with a pet.
1. Creates a Sense of Security
If you’ve ever stayed up late watching a scary movie and then tried to sleep after, you know how unnerving it can be laying in bed alone at night staring into the darkness. For those who typically live alone this can actually be a regular problem and if you don’t feel completely safe in your home or neighborhood then these feelings of worry and anxiety can be heightened, impacting your sleep and leaving you restless. Having a dog in bed with you can do wonders do calm your nerves and help you feel safe and as one professional says:
“Pets are highly sensitive to noise so having them by your side can give you a sense of security if you were to be in danger. Of course, they can guard you and the home from anywhere else, having somebody by you is always better.” – Sakura Davis, Veterinary Technician and Consultant at CatPet.Club
It makes sense that dogs naturally make us feel safe as they have been bred to do just that for centuries. From working on farms to guarding property, dogs can be quite territorial and are quick to alert if they believe a stranger is intruding in their home. Not only will a dog bark and wake you in case of an emergency, but depending on your pet, they may even actively defend and protect you if need be.
Of course, your 10-pound miniature poodle may not be your first choice when it comes to scaring away strangers, but even just having that companion beside you is enough to ease your mind and ultimately create that much-needed sense of security.
2. Reduces Stress
It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when your adorable dog is staring at you begging for pets, but it turns out the science behind why goes much deeper than just their sweet, pleading eyes. Owning a pet can do a lot for your mental health, and this is a big part of why emotional support animals exist in the first place. Stress, worry, and anxiety can all be triggered by various situations, but the one thing that works to reduce these feelings is an increase of chemicals in the brains such as dopamine and serotonin. Known as the “happy hormones”, dopamine and serotonin make you feel happier, calmer, and more relaxed when their levels are elevated and one way to make this happen is to pet your dog.
The calming, repetitive action of petting your dog’s head or scratching their belly has been shown by researchers at Washington State University to reduce stress in just 10 minutes. Quickly reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you not only help your pet to feel more loved and appreciated, but you also reap the many benefits of this action as well.
When it comes time to go to bed, too many people end up lying awake at night with their mind racing over the day’s activities and tomorrow’s to-do lists. Having your dog beside you from some calming pets and scratches can ultimately calm your mind and help you fall asleep faster, preventing bouts of insomnia from getting out of hand. So the next time you find yourself tossing and turning, reach out and pet away until you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.
3. Enhances the Bond
There are few things more pure in life than the bond between a dog and their owner, but with work, school, and other life commitments you may start to feel like you just aren’t giving your pup the attention they truly need and deserve. A strong bond is beneficial in many ways, and can go a long way in making it easier to train as well as create more confidence and security within your pet. So, if your day is frequently full of activities and obligations, nighttime may be the perfect time to really get those bonding hours in.
Not only do humans love sleeping with their pets, but it turns out pets actually love it as well. Snuggling up near their human is quite natural for dogs as they are normally pack animals and in the wild will sleep together for security and safety. Being by your side helps calm them, but it also makes them feel loved and wanted, amplifying that bond between you two and making them happier and healthier.
A common misconception is that allowing your dog to sleep in your bed will teach them that they are the boss of the house and thus lead to socialization issues and temperament problems, but experts don’t necessarily agree with this.
“Sleeping together provides ample bonding time between pup and pet parent and contrary to popular belief, there is little evidence that sleeping in the bed is the root cause of aggressive behavior” – Colleen Demling-Riley, Dog Behaviourist at Dogtopia.com
1. Disrupts Your Sleep
Sharing your bed with anyone can be disruptive for your sleep, but when it comes to pets this may actually be amplified throughout the night. Normally, a bed partner will at least try to have some respect for the sleeping person beside them, and while they may move around, it’s unlikely they are going to walk across your face every now and again. Dogs, on the other hand, aren’t quite as respectful and you can almost guarantee a kick or two, as well as some digging, walking, turning, pawing, and more.
One of the biggest downsides to co-sleeping is that you can significantly reduce the amount of genuine sleep you get, and in the morning, can be left feeling even more tired than before you went to bed. This is especially true for any light sleepers out there who find their sleep is easily disturbed at even the slightest noise or movement.
So, what do the experts have to say?
“Just like people, animals go into REM sleep — so they might yelp, twitch, bark, or jerk at seemingly random times during the night. Of course, this can end up interrupting your sleep, too!” – Martin Reed, MEd, CHES®, CCSH, insomniacoach.com
2. Reduces Hygiene & Cleanliness
Dogs can be downright gross and anyone who owns one can tell you an endless list of things their pooch does that makes them a bit squeamish. From going in the garbage to licking themselves non-stop, dogs certainly don’t share the same hygiene and cleanliness standards as their human counterparts. This lack of personal hygiene is actually one of the biggest reasons why many dog owners frown at sharing their bed as the thought of all that dirt, grime, and germs doesn’t create a relaxing, cozy atmosphere.
Just like you wouldn’t climb into bed at night with your running shoes on, allowing your pet into the bed with their dirty paws is virtually the same thing and can even possibly present a health-hazard to unsuspecting pet owners. Sure, you could bathe your furry friend every night before bed, but most dogs aren’t eager to hop in the tub and you’re only going to add more work and stress to your pre-bed routine. And it isn’t just dirty paws that are a problem, as one expert says:
“The downside of having your pet in your bed is that hygiene and cleaning will become more important to control the pet fur and dander in your bed. If your pet has any parasites such as fleas, you can be more prone to bites from the close proximity you will have to your pet.” – Pippy Pelham, Marketing Lead at Small Door Veterinary
Anyone with allergies will also find their sleep, and their health, impacted if they choose to sleep with their pet. All of that dander and hair builds up in your sheets and unless you’re washing your bedding daily, you’re bound to be rolling around in it throughout the night.
So what’s the best solution? If hair, dirt, dander, and germs are a flat out no for you, find your dog a high-quality bed of their own and make sure to wash it just as frequently as you do your own bedding to ensure they stay healthy and happy as well.
3. Interrupts Intimacy
You know the old saying “two’s company, three’s a crowd”? Well, it turns out there is a lot of truth in that when it comes to pets in the bed. Sharing a bed with your partner is a wonderful way to open the door to increased intimacy, but when a furry little body is wedged between the two of you, suddenly that door becomes firmly closed.
With all of the cons to co-sleeping with your pet, decreased intimacy is one of the biggest issues that many pet owners don’t really think about. For many people, getting into a routine at night means intimacy can be put to the side, but when you add a dog into the mix, the chance of it becoming less of a priority increases significantly. Sure, dog snuggles and cuddles are great, but before long you’ll find you no longer fall asleep in your partner’s arms as your arms are already full with your pooch. But, when you’re already tired, you may end up writing off the lack of intimacy as exhaustion and not taking note that maybe the dog is the real culprit.
It’s important to set time aside for you two as a couple, which means Fido has to stay out of the bedroom at least for awhile. Whether that involves closing the door for an hour, or not letting your dog join you in bed at all, be mindful of this issue and make sure you find that time for increased intimacy.
Just like with parenting, every owner has their own ideas of what is right and wrong when it comes to raising their pets. For some, co-sleeping is ideal as it creates that sense of security they need to fall asleep at night. For others, the constant movement and snoring is just too much to handle and giving their dog their own bed is best for them. No matter the situation, it’s best to decide based on your own situation and know that you’re not a bad pet owner if your dog sleeps on the floor – nor are you wrong for having them in bed with you. Whatever you ultimately choose there isn’t a right or wrong answer and as long as your pet is getting the love and attention they deserve, they will be happy.