Is It Safe to Let Your Pet Sleep in Your Bed?
Is it safe to let you pet sleep in your bed? Hmmm...well, let’s start off with the obvious. If you’re one of those crazies down in Florida who has a pet alligator or a 10 foot boa constrictor – the answer is a big fat no!
If however you have something a lot smaller, furrier and less likely to view you as a late night snack, like say a dog or a cat, then the answer is a little bit more nuanced.
Read on below and we will have a look at the potential dangers of bedding down with your faithful pooch or friendly moggie.
Depends on Your Health, and Theirs
The chances of you catching something from sharing a bed with your pet – apart from a whiff of dog breath – is very rare indeed.
As long as your pet has had all their vaccinations and sees a vet relatively regularly, then the chances you are going to contract something by letting them sleep next to you in bed is incredibly small.
Although if suffer from any form of weakened immune system, sharing a bed with your pet could be a bad idea. So take a short break if you are recovering from a bad cold or flu. And definitely avoid completely if you are immunosuppressed as a result of cancer, a transplant or HIV.
Will It Cause Behavioral Issues?
Just to be clear, that’s behavioral issues in your pet, not you.
For a long time pet owners were advised that sharing their bed with their beloved dog in particular was bad news. This was related to theories of dominance. However this seems to have been based on experiences with particularly aggressive and poorly behaved animals, and not on the average pooch.
If your four-legged friend is an otherwisely well-adjusted and well behaved animal, who exhibits no signs of aggression, then sleeping on your bed at night isn’t likely to change that.
Having such a comfy bed may however make them less inclined to join you on your morning run!
Ever wondered how many hours sleep your pooch really needs? You might be surprised. Take a look at this useful guide to dogs and napping. Not to be confused with dognapping, which is a different thing entirely.
Do You Have Allergies?
Obviously if you have any reaction to pet dander then you’d have to be quite a glutton for punishment to allow your four-legged side kick to sleep on your bed. No matter how fond of them you are of midnight snuggles.
What is less immediately obvious is the role pets can have in triggering, or amplifying, the symptoms of other allergies. Such as pollen or dust.
If you suffer from any allergies at all, then please don’t share a bed with your pet. Don’t even let them into your bedroom. They may look harmless but they are in effect allergen sponges.
As they meander through the house and garden their lovely hairy bodies collect all manner of particles. If you then allow them onto your bed, those particles are going to be left everywhere and will be very difficult to clean. The result, endless nights of sneezing, snot and itchy eyes.
It should be added that if any member of your household has allergies advise them to treat their room like a quarantine zone. Advise them to never leave their room door open. Once a pet has a taste for sleeping on comfy beds they are probably not going to be too discerning about whose they choose.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the sneezy ones amongst you, evidence suggests that children growing up around animals are less likely to develop allergies.
Depends on Your Age
While it might look adorable in photographs, letting your baby sleep with your pet is not really advised. In fact, up until the age of six it’s probably better to keep your child and your pet separated during both daytime nap time and nighttime sleeping.
This might cause some tears initially – after all dogs and cats are pretty much the perfect teddy bears – but it can can save a lot of tears later on.
While the risk of anything happening to either child or pet is very small, it does exist. Perhaps your infant plays a little too hard, pulls a tail a little too roughly, and your pet responds accordingly. It really isn’t worth the risk.
You Might Sleep Through Your Alarm
You might have realised by now that the risks of sharing a bed with your pet, as long as you are both healthy and of age, are negligible. The benefits however are not.
Firstly, bedding down with your dog or cat provides you with an extra source of heat to help you get through those long winter nights. Fun fact: The Australian Aborigines used to classify how cold a night spent sleeping in the bush was by how many dogs it would take to keep them warm, as in, “That was a five dog night wasn’t it mate?”
Secondly and most importantly, sleeping with your beloved animal has an amazing stress reducing effect on both you and the animal in question. When we form a close bond with anyone, human or pet, our body responds by releasing a chemical known as oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’. Oxytocin, reduces feelings of anxiety, stress and even helps to lower our blood pressure.
So, as long it’s consensual on both sides, please go ahead and sleep with your pet. Don’t blame me if you snooze through your alarm tomorrow!