Should You Sleep With Your Pet In The Same Bed?
We all love our furry little companions, so we frequently ask this question. They are our animals, they keep us company throughout years and even decades, and they are our friends. We only do what’s best for their well-being and happiness, and what other way to show your pet that you love them other than letting them do the things they like? Many people don’t allow their pets to climb on the couch and other furniture, especially in the bedroom. It may come off as cruel but that’s just the house rules. Instead of letting the dog or cat stay on people’s furniture, they will buy them their own. That looks like a simple solution, doesn’t it?
I love my dog. He literally only needs to make a tiny pouty face and I will immediately get him whatever he wants. He knows that – he’s a seasoned manipulator, especially when it comes to treats. His favorite toys are balls. We have balls of all sizes and shapes in the whole apartment. I wouldn’t be surprised if I broke my neck one day, by tripping on one of them. But, the joy in his eyes and the wagging of his tail is making it all worth it. So, we come to the really tricky question: Why shouldn’t you let your dog or cat sleep with you?
Myths about sleeping with pets
You shouldn’t let your dog sleep with you because he assumes dominance.”
Dominance in packs of dogs is a tricky issue that needs further research. The myth revolving around sharing a bed with a dog is based on letting the dog sleep with the “alpha” (namely you or your spouse), and therefore he assumes a higher position in the pack hierarchy.
This doesn’t always have to be the case. The only time you should assume that he wants dominance is when he expresses aggression towards you if you order them or try to move them from the bed. Those are warning signs that they need more training and a change of attitude. For example, I’ve shared my bed with my dog as soon as I adopted him. If you want to train him to listen to you, you need to spend a lot of time together and practice basic commands. When I don’t want my dog off the bed, I simply tell him to get off – which he does, and then finds another place to lie down.
“You shouldn’t sleep with your cat when pregnant, you’ll get Toxoplasmosis.”
Many couples with cats give away or sell their furry friends once the woman gets pregnant. The Toxoplasmosis scare is there for a reason, but it doesn’t need to be blown out of proportions so badly. The good news is – you don’t have to get rid of your kitty if you’re expecting. You can even sleep with them if you like. The big no-no is to interacting with the litter box, because that’s where you can get the disease. As long as you keep your cat healthy and find someone else to take care of the litter box, you and your offspring will be just fine.
“You’ll get sick if you sleep with your pet.”
This is a half-true half-false myth. The truth is – yes, you can get sick. However, the odds are staggeringly low. If you’re a responsible owner, take your pet to the vet regularly, maintain their proper hygiene and provide them with a healthy diet, there is literally no way that you can get sick from them. Diseases in animals can be harmful to humans too – you need to look out for bacteria and parasites. In case your pet has some kind of infection or is infested by parasites, then it’s best to avoid sleeping with them until these issues are resolved. However, if your pet is healthy – there is no reason why you shouldn’t share your bed with them.
“Your cat will suck the breath out of your infant, therefore smother it.”
This is a case recorded about 300 years ago… When in the early modern period women were still trialed for witchcraft, and black cats were associated with them. It’s true, cats have a bad rap – but doesn’t that sound more like an odd fairy tale? No, your cat won’t suck the living breath out of your infant, nor harm it intentionally. In case you let your cat sleep near your baby, just make sure that the baby is supervised. The real threat can be that your cat can simply cozy up too close to the baby’s head – with the risk of shutting off its air supply. But that won’t happen if you frequently look at the baby.
“Pet hair is bad for your health.”
Nope, not in the least if you’re not allergic and keep your pupper or kitty clean. And, of course, your bedroom. In cases you ingest, or inhale your pet’s hair, it’s not a big deal. Of course, if shedding is a problem you should make sure to clean your house thoroughly and frequently for a myriad of reasons, but if your pet sleeps with you in the bed and you accidentally eat or breathe in a hair or two, you’ll be fine.
For example, 91% of cat hair is made of protein, and our stomach acid and other enzymes can ingest that with ease. You can harm your digestive system only if you literally eat an enormous ball of hair at once. My dog is shedding like crazy – I probably eat a number of his hairs daily without even noticing, and my health is completely fine. It’s also almost impossible to inhale a hair completely because the hair in your nostrils will stop that from happening, and you will get rid of it the next time you blow your nose.
When not to sleep with pet?
No matter how much we do love our dogs and pets, there are some instances when you should not sleep with your pet in the bed.
If you have a child younger than 6 years of old, it’s probably safe to assume that they are not mature enough to sleep with your pet. If you decide to do that, you need to make sure they know how to properly act in the presence of your pet. Many kids will pull on the dog/cat’s tails, may do something that might annoy them or scare them, so make sure you don’t leave your child with your pet unsupervised. Other than that, there are no particular issues when it comes to your child sleeping with your pet (unless of course, they have allergies).
If you have a tendency to wake up at even the slightest of sound or movement in the bed, then it’s probably best to leave your pet out of the bedroom when it’s time to sleep. If your pet disrupts your sleep cycles, it can result in waking up in the morning without a drop of energy. Your REM phase is very important for catching some quality Z’s, but if your pet tends to move around, make noises or play loudly with a toy, it’s best to avoid sleeping with them. This is particular for cats because they are mostly nocturnal, or if you have a dog breed that snores loudly.
Allergies and other
Of course, it goes without saying that sleeping with a pet when you have obvious allergic reactions to their fur or dander is dangerous. Having a pet is a wonderful thing, but you need to take care of your health first.
Some other cases where it’s not recommended to sleep with a pet are:
- Cancer patients
- Transplant recipients
- HIV positive people
- Elderly people
These people are not immunosuppressed, and therefore are far more risky to contract diseases from pets. Bacterial infections and parasites can be particularly harmful to them, so it’s best advised to keep the pets away from their bed.
Why to sleep with pet?
They can be your clock
If you maintain an accurate schedule for your pet (walks, breakfast, play time), you probably won’t need an alarm clock anymore. Pets, especially dogs, love routine. They need to be taken out for walks at approximately the same time every day (at least twice), so when they learn when it’s time for a walk – you’ll definitely know. Sticking to that will also make you more responsible and assertive.
They are snuggle buddies
There’s nothing better than snuggling up to your dog or cat on a cold winter night. They are what makes us feel safe, at home, relaxed and stress-free. We always feel calmer when we’re in the presence of our own pet. Snuggling with a pet can also lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. It’s been particularly noted in sever anxiety cases, whereas a therapy dog or cat has helped them go through many restful nights.
They help with insomnia
Consequently, pets help with insomnia. Instead of opting for various prescription drugs or losing a fortune on ways to fall asleep, simple go to bed with your pet. Many people who sleep with their pets have reported that the sound of their dog breathing was enough for them to relax, similarly to people who like to listen to white noise before sleep. This comes as a direct result from the lowered blood pressure and calmness we experience.
They help with depression
Depression is a major issue in a big part of population and it’s a really serious matter. Many people who suffer from depression feel isolated, alone and are fighting with dark thoughts daily. Pets can help with depression – a loyal dog with unconditional love can help in ways you can’t even imagine. Pets give people a sense of purpose we are here to take care of them, after all. So, besides adding a great routine to life, you also get immense joy and gratitude from a furry little friend.
They are your guardians
You’ve probably heard numerous heartwarming stories about pets rescuing their families from the strangest of things. From fires starting in houses/flats, to battling burglars. Pets are your guardians most of all – they are on their own territory and have a great sense of recognizing imminent danger. That being said, you can fall asleep easier because you know that there is always going to be someone on the lookout for you.
What do you need to do to sleep safely together?
Check the list below and make sure you take care of everything before you let your dog or cat into your bed. If you don’t regularly do these things, there is a much higher risk of contracting a disease from them.
- Regular checkups to the vet for bacteria, parasites and overall health
- Wash your hands before handling food (after touching your pet)
- Regularly bathe your pet, especially if it goes outdoors
- Check for fleas, mites, and worms, especially in the spring
- Immediately remove pet faeces when you see it and disinfect the area
- Don’t feed your pet offal or raw meat – ever
- Supervise your children in the presence of pet
Sleeping with pets is a great idea – as long as you make sure to do the necessary precautions. If you can’t fulfill some of the things we’ve mentioned, don’t feel down. You pet will still know you love them no matter what. There are other ways to provide comfort to them other than let them sleep with you in the same bed. There are high quality pet beds available, which you can put near your own bed, so you can still spend nights together. They will be grateful to you no matter what, as long as you show them love and affection frequently.