Is It Safe to Share the Bed With Your Dog?

As temperatures dip, it’s tempting to cuddle up to your partner, your kids, and even your pets. But is it really a good idea to have your dog sleeping in bed with you?

According to one survey by the American Kennel Club, 45 percent of dog owners let their pooches sleep in their beds. But as much as you might want to snuggle with Spot, know that sharing your bed with your favorite canine isn’t without health concerns. Here’s what to know about pets and health when it comes to co-sleeping.

Should Rover Move Over?

Usually, your dog sleeping in bed with you isn’t dangerous. Research published by the journal Human Nature suggests that sharing a bed with your dog is about the same as sharing a bed with your child. That said, there is some evidence that suggests sleeping with pets can have negative effects on your health. Here are three areas of wellness to consider when thinking about letting your pup onto your bed. (Note: These can also be issues of concern if you share your bed with a cat — and especially if you share your bed with more than one!)

  • Allergies: If you have allergies and asthma, one of the concerns regarding sleeping with your pet is the sneezing, coughing, wheezing and itchy eyes that can result from touching or breathing in pet hair or dander. Although medication can help prevent allergic attacks, you’re probably better off keeping pets off your bed if you’re sensitive, as their fur and dander can easily take up residence on your pillows and sheets.
  • Infections: The journal Emerging Infectious Diseases suggests that pets can transmit infectious diseases and parasites to humans while sharing a bed. This is uncommon, but it should be of particular concern for kids and people with lower immunity, such as those who have HIV/AIDS or cancer and those who take immunosuppressant drugs.
  • Sleep Problems: Just as a bed partner who snores or steals the covers can, pets can disturb your sleep. One study from the Mayo Clinic has shown that while having a dog simply in your bedroom may not disrupt your sleep, having them on the bed will. It also found that dog owners who let their pets into bed were more likely to wake up throughout the night than people who slept with only a human partner. Although people who slept with dogs in their beds had an average sleep efficiency rate of 80 percent, those whose dogs slept in their rooms, but not on their beds, had a sleep efficiency rate of 83 percent — a good argument for getting Fido his own bed.

Final Verdict?

Having your dog sleep in bed with you may not be the best choice if you’re prone to allergies, have a compromised immune system or struggle to get a good night’s sleep. However, pet owners who don’t have such health concerns and enjoy bonding with their animal companions can find co-sleeping to be pleasant and even relaxing.

Let your individual situation guide your choice — and consult your Lahey Health provider with any specific concerns you may have about pets and health.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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