If your cat or dog sleeps with you, you’re in good company. The majority of pet owners allow their pets to share their beds. About 56% of dog owners say they sleep with their dogs in their beds, while 62% of cat owners say they do. The practice is more common amongst women, with 25% sleeping regularly with their pets, as opposed to 16% of men.
But is sleeping with your pet good for your health?
According to a study published in the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, people can catch diseases from close contact with pets. However, cases where this has happened are pretty rare and many people have slept with their pets for years with no adverse effects.
Some diseases which you are more at risk for if you sleep with a pet are:
- Chagas disease, which can cause life-threatening heart and digestive system disorders.
- Bubonic plague
- Cat-scratch disease, which can cause lethal damage to kidney, liver or spleen.
The risks for contracting diseases can be lowered by washing hands regularly and taking your pet to the vet on a regular basis.
There is another caution though and that’s if you have allergies. You can choose a pet who is known to be hypoallergenic and won’t exacerbate your allergies. If your allergies are not too severe, you have the choice of taking medication. It all depends on how you feel about having your pet share your bed.
And there’s a new caution – if you have the flu, your dog or cat is at risk from you!
If someone new (human) enters your life and shares a bed with you, you might want to ask them how they feel about sharing that bed with a pet. Crate training comes in handy if the other human is not happy with the situation. Keeping the crate close to your bed helps.
Some people claim that dogs and cats will disturb your sleep and this can be detrimental to your health. If this is the case, you can train your pet to sleep in its own place. Some dogs, quite large ones and cats too enjoy stretching out full length and are annoyed if you move and disturb them. I’ve even heard so-called experts claim your pets may cause you injury if upset enough. Growing up I had a GSD that slept with me and my cat. And yes, Cookie let me know when I upset her by grunting and not lying still. But never once in the 18 years I grew up with her did she ever snap or try to hurt me. She was just letting me know she disapproved. If you own a dog that threatens you in any way, it’s time for some serious training.
Other “experts” say that allowing your dog and perhaps even your cat, sleep with you leads them to believe they are dominant and the leader of the pack. Again, I’ve yet to see any evidence of this behavior. Most of my friends are dog and/or cat owners and from stories I’ve read from other people, this has never been a problem despite allowing their pets to share their beds.
You might want to consider placing a doggie bed near you in case your pet decides it might be more comfortable sleeping in its own space.
But relax, recent studies have shown that having your pet sleep with you can be an excellent bonding tool. Pets have shown to be easier to train, possibly due to the closeness they feel toward their human. Your choice, do what’s comfortable for you and your pet.
There is one more negative about having your pet sleep with you. It can put a damper on your love life.
What about if I go on a trip?
This doesn’t necessarily fit in this article, but I still thought of adding it. When you go camping, deciding where you put your dog can be a hard decision. If you have an RV or boat, you can let your dog sleep on the floor, or in the bed of the RV/boat.
If you go tenting though, this is a different matter. In most cases it’s not advisable to leave the dog outside — they can get cold and/or wet, especially if it starts to rain or become victim to wild animals. If there’s room in the tent and you don’t mind sleeping with your dog inside, put him/her in the tent with you. If you don’t agree with sleeping with your dog inside the tent because you think the tent will be full of hair, you can put the dog inside another smaller tent.
If you are staying in a hotel, it is not advisable to let your dog sleep in the bed of the hotel. Rather tell him to sleep on the floor.