It is a fact that many families own pets, and sleeping with them is really not unusual in most countries. Interestingly, a survey carried out by the American Pet Products Association recently showed that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs, and 32% of large dogs sleep in their owner’s bed. More so, the survey showed that 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, while 13% sleep with the children.
However, are there health risks involved when sharing a bed with your pets? Does such a habit benefit you or your pet? What factors should you consider before sharing a room or bed with your pet?
Here we’ll reveal the pros and cons of sleeping with your pet, plus all the factors you need to consider before falling asleep next to your furry friend:
Benefits of Sleeping with Your Pets:
a. Sleep Improvement:
Sharing your bedroom or bed with your pet could actually reduce anxiety, give you a better sense of emotional and physical security, and generally improve your sleep. This is especially true when the pets stay under the covers. For people who feel quite vulnerable when they are asleep, having a pet in bed or around them at night makes them feel safer. Pets are also excellent substitutes for lonely or single people.”
b. Comfort and Warmth:
Pets are flurry animals which makes their body temperature warmer than ours. This warm body temperature makes them feel like an electric blanket, especially as you cuddle. More so, they have a very soothing effect that can lull you to sleep.
c. Stress Reduction:
Having your pets around you can make you feel calm and less anxious. This is quite true when you have disorders like insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression, and emotional issues. The presence of pets will give reassurance while touching them will raise oxytocin levels in the brain and make you feel very good.
Many pet owners work almost all day and leave their pets alone at home. Such owners will like to maximize the little time they have with their pets, and the pets will also want to spend some time with their owners. Since most pets love their owners and are usually drawn to their scents, sleeping on the same bed with them helps them bond easily. Creating this emotional bond, like intimacy between two human partners, keeps the pet and the owner happy.
Health Risks of Sleeping with Your Pets:
a. Worsens allergies:
The pet experts at We’re All About Pets state that, “One of the main concerns of sharing a bed or room with your bed is an allergic reaction. If your immune system is weak, you are asthmatic, or allergic to pet dander, it is safe to keep pets outside your bedroom. This is the major factor to consider when you are contemplating spending the night curled up with your pet. In situations when the pet owners refuse to keep their pets out of their bedroom; despite the allergies, they should be placed on allergy shots to build up a tolerance.”
b. Quality of Sleep:
Your pets could give you insomnia problems when they share a bed or room with you. They can do this by snoring all night, scratching, constantly moving, kicking, hogging the covers, or, in case of large dogs, taking up too much space on the bed. Moreover, an overweight pet will have fat collapsing on its throat and tends to snore loudly and interrupt one’s sleep. You should work with your vet or visit online resources to develop an exercise and diet program for your four-legged friend.
c. Increases Risk of Disease:
Pets usually spend a lot of time outdoors and interact with a lot of other pets or things that could be dangerous for your health. A lot of human pathogens are transmitted by animals. Since pets are not entirely clean, they have to be vaccinated regularly to keep them healthy. Your risk of getting infected when your pet is infested is really high.
It may cause dominance and aggression in the pet: Both cats and dogs can develop dominance and aggression when they are allowed to hog the bed. Giving your pets too much leverage on your bed could make them territorial, but you can curb this by permitting them to occupy a specific place on the bed.
Who Shouldn’t Sleep with Pets?
Although some people will consider most of the drawbacks to sleeping with pets as minor, some people should not sleep with pets at all. These people include:
Allowing your pets to share a bed with your infant could put your baby at risk of germs. Pets could also roll on top of your baby and make them unable to breathe.
Sick People and People with Allergies
People who have weak immune systems are at higher risk of getting pathogens. Allergies can also be triggered when pets are close to people with allergic reactions.
Dogs tend to bite when they are roused from sleep. This is dangerous when young children are nearby.
5 Tips for Sleeping with Your Pets:
1. One of the first things to do when you bring your pet home is to decide where he should sleep and stick to your decision.
2. Do not indulge your pet by giving them snacks or playing with them when they wake you up at night. Ensure they play and exercise well during the day so they can rest better at night.
3. Establish a routine for your pet. They should be trained using training aids to understand that daytime is for playing, exercising and eating, while the night is for sleeping. This schedule should be created as soon as you bring your pet home.
4. If your pet tends to interrupt your sleep often, you should consider getting them their own pet bed or put them in a crate nearby. You can learn how to crate train your pet here.
5. You should invest in a large mattress with good motion isolation and superior edge support. There are so many nice mattresses with latex or memory foam in the market, some of which have been reviewed here.
Emma Williams is an Australian writer with a master‘s degree in business administration, who has a passion for anything lifestyle and design related. She spends most of her time redecorating and participating in house projects. As a great nature lover, her biggest pleasure is spending time in a small cottage by the river.