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Should my pets sleep on my bed?

Author imageThe Mattress Warehouse

We all adore our fur babies; some of us even love them more than we love people! It is such a lovely feeling getting to cuddle their warm bodies at night, but should our pets be sleeping on the bed with us? Does it increase or decrease our sleep quality? Keep reading to find out!

Is It Common Practice to Allow Your Pet to Sleep on Your Bed?

Cat sleeping on bed

Studies have shown that roughly 60% of pet owners allow their furry companions to sleep on their beds with them. Why are we inclined to have it that way? What does it add to our lives?

The Benefits of Sleeping With Your Pets:

  • Warmth
  • Comfort and relaxation
  • Building a relationship with your pet
  • Safety

Warmth:

There is no denying that an extra fur-body in bed brings warmth. Pets’ body heat is significantly higher than humans’.

Pet sleeping on bed

Having a pet under the covers to transfer heat to your bed, as well as your body can be a life-saver during the cold winter months. That feeling of a warm body pressed against your back is one of the best feelings out there!

Note: If you don’t like sleeping warm, or find yourself waking up sweating during the summer, it is best to avoid sleeping with your pets.

For alternative tips on staying warm, click here.

Comfort and Relaxation:

The psychological comfort that a pet brings is such a beautiful thing! Just having them near us causes a release of oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) in our brains. This not only makes us feel happier and more content, it also relaxes us.

Sleeping with a dog

Furthermore, the consistent breathing of a cat or dog can have an incredibly calming effect. Finally, it’s difficult not to get lulled to sleep with the soft purr of a cat coming from somewhere underneath your covers!

Building a Relationship With Your Pet:

In today’s world most people spend the majority of the day away from home, and their pets are left to their own devices for extended periods of time. That leaves only the night time and early morning for your pet to see you and get attention from you.

Hand with paw

Therefore, bed-time is a good opportunity for you to bond with your pet and your pet to bond with you. Sleeping in the same space as their owner creates a feeling of love and inclusion for your pet. This is especially true for dogs, as they have a pack mentality; sleeping together strengthens their sense of belonging.

Furthermore, pets feel most comfortable when sleeping higher than ground level. This is because it gives them a better vantage point from which to see any other pets or humans approaching. If your pet is sleeping on the bed with you, their general happiness and satisfaction with life is improved.

Finally, sleeping together strengthens your owner-pet bond that is such a big part of having a pet in the first place.

Safety:

Unfortunately, safety is a big issue in South Africa at the moment, and it’s one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Guard dog

Having a pet, especially a dog, in the house to remain alert is a big step towards ensuring the safety of your family. We all know dogs will not only alert us to any danger, but also protect us at all costs. Cats, while they won’t necessarily protect us, will at least alert us of a strange presence.

Furthermore, someone with ill intent is far less likely to attempt to enter your house if they know there are dogs inside.

The Risks of Sleeping With Your Pets:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Allergies
  • Health risks
  • Behavioural problems
  • Relationship strain
  • Dirt and germs
  • Baby danger
  • Potential harm to the pet

Sleep Disturbances:

If you are a light sleeper, it is likely that a pet sleeping on the bed with you will be quite disruptive for your sleep. Animals readjust and move around frequently throughout the night.

Sleep disturbances

Dogs are polyphasic sleepers, meaning they have multiple sleep-wake cycles every day, compared to us, who only sleep once per day. This means that they aren’t asleep for the whole duration of the night. Furthermore, they always stay partially alert to danger even when they are sleeping. This means that even when they are asleep, it’s not a deep sleep. Finally, a lot of dogs move their bodies while dreaming, meaning more movement during the night.

Cats are nocturnal and come and go as they please. They won’t often sleep with you throughout the night. Furthermore, if they decide it is playtime (or purr time!) in the middle of the night, they will try to attack your feet under the covers.

Therefore, if you tend to wake up every time your pet moves, you are setting yourself up for unrestful nights! We all know bad sleeping habits have a big influence on our lives.

Allergies:

This one is probably the most obvious; if you are allergic to dogs/cats, letting them sleep in your bed will only worsen your allergies.

Dog hair

Furthermore, while you aren’t necessarily allergic to your pet’s hair, it might carry dust particles and other allergens.

If you suddenly find yourself struggling with any of the following symptoms, go to a doctor and request an allergy test:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Red and itchy eyes
  • Chest tightness
  • Rashes

Finally, for some tips on making your bedroom allergy-free, click here.

Health Risks:

While transferring illnesses and diseases from pets to humans is very uncommon, it is possible.

Sneezing

Some of the health problems that pets could transfer to you:

  • Parasites
  • Cat-scratch disease
  • Skin infections

Please note that if you and your pet are both healthy, and your pet is up to date with vaccinations and de-worming, this health risk is highly unlikely.

Dr Heller from ABC Life feels that the risk of getting a disease from a pet sleeping next to you is just as likely as getting one from the human sleeping next to you.

“If that human is unwell, or carrying bacteria or a parasite, you won’t necessarily get that bug, but the risk is greater than if you were not in such close contact.”

Behavioural Problems:

For a long time, it was believed that a dog sleeping on its owner’s bed could cause the dog to think it was the leader of a pack and develop aggression issues. This theory has since been disproved.

Angry dog

The truth of the matter is, while sleeping on a bed with the owner can bring out resource guarding behaviour in a dog, it is unclear whether it is the cause. It might just bring the pre-existing problem to light.

Keep an eye out regardless, and if you do see problems developing, go see a dog behavioural specialist or trainer.

Relationship Strain:

It is a well-known fact that sleeping next to your loved one strengthens your relationship.

Holding hands

Therefore, sleeping with your pets between you can, to a small degree, place some strain on your relationship.

Dirt and Germs:

Most pets spend more time outside than inside. When they are outside they step in mud and faeces. Then they come inside and step on your bedding. Consequently, all of the dirt and germs are then transferred to your bed.

Dog

Furthermore, since pets bathe themselves, they lick their paws and fur where all of this dirt clings to, and then they proceed to give you a big lick in the face first thing in the morning. Needless to say, this is not ideal for a clean, hygienic household!

Note: The bad hygiene can be lessened by brushing and grooming your pets on a regular base, as well as changing your sheets weekly.

Baby Danger:

Little children don’t always understand how to interact with pets. Pulling hair and pushing them around can eventually build-up and cause your dog or cat to snap at or lash out on the little one. Therefore, it is not advised that pets should ever sleep with kids under 6.

Baby

Furthermore, if you are expecting a baby, start making your pet sleeps in another room at least a month before your due date. This leaves ample time for your pet (and you) to adjust before the baby arrives.

Potential Harm to the Pet:

The last risk is a risk for your beloved pet.

Little dog

If you have small dogs that can’t jump onto your bed themselves and need to be helped onto it, it is best for them to rather stay off of it. If they sleep with you, they would have to jump off of the bed every morning, which could lead to them hurting themselves, or even permanently damaging their paws, legs and back.

Note: An easy solution is moving a table or step against your bed so that they can jump on themselves.

I’m only here to give you the facts and keep you informed; the decision is ultimately up to you. Do you feel that the Pros outweigh the Cons? Wonderful, then keep your sleeping companion! Have I changed your mind? Then I’m glad I could help.

Sleep well and know that your pet loves you, regardless of the fact that they’re sharing/not sharing their sleeping space with you!

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