Should your pet sleep in your bed? 8



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Do you sleep with your pet? In your room? In your bed? Or is your bedroom a no-go zone for cuddly creatures?

There is possibly no other pet issue that divides people more, than the practice of sleeping with pets. Generally pet owners fall along a spectrum of sleeping styles:

  • Pet always outdoors, sleeping wherever they wish
  • Pet outdoors at night, sleeping in a, sometimes luxurious, kennel
  • Pet indoors but always in the laundry/kitchen
  • Pet indoors, sleeping in the family area
  • Pet in your bedroom but in their own bed
  • Pet on your bed but at the end of the bed
  • Pet under the covers, head on the pillow

Health and behaviour risks

The two most common questions that are asked when people consider pets on their bed are:

  1. Is it healthy to sleep with my pet?

If you pet is healthy, vaccinated, wormed and well cared for, then you have very little health risks in sleeping with your pet on the bed. And, of course, you should also make sure that you are healthy so you don’t pass your germs on to your pet! Zoonotic diseases, those that can be passed from humans to animals and vice versa, are a concern for people whose immune systems are compromised and, if you are prone to allergies from pet hair, it may be more sensible to make your bedroom a no-pet zone.

  1. Will I create behaviour issues?

While some dogs have been known to prevent humans getting on the bed, most dogs are there purely for comfort and companionship. Our canine companions are not trying to take over our lives! If your pet, however, is prone to using their teeth or cannot bear to be separated from you, then you would be advised to attempt to solve these issues.

Owner guilt

Owners often feel guilty about sleeping with their pet. They know that others disapprove of this behaviour and so their guilty secret stays under wraps. Some pet owners, however, are willing to admit “We didn’t let the kids sleep in our bed but now the dog is in our bed, even under the covers with us!”

If this is you, you are not alone. Many pet owners sleep with their pets. My survey of pet owners revealed that 82% of us slept with a pet on the bed at times. We, dedicated pet owners, may not represent the average person, but this does tell us that people have their pets in the bedroom (89% of us), even if some don’t admit it openly to their friends.

Other risks

So, the biggest risks of sleeping with your pet are probably the increased washing with the footprints and hair shedding over your bed linen. And perhaps also the lack of a good night’s sleep! Pets come and go, on and off the bed. They toss and turn. They move up and down the bed. They nudge you for a pat. They wake you up early. In spite of all this, many owners feel comforted by having their pet near. It’s a personal choice.

Do you sleep with your pet?


Dr Jo Righetti

Passionate animal behaviourist and Purina Petcare ambassador, Dr Jo has worked with pets for more than a decade and has been a media favourite, with appearances on Totally Wild, Creature Features, Body & Soul Magazine and The Project. With a PhD in Animal Behaviour, a Degree in Zoology and a Diploma in Counselling under her belt, Dr Jo provides support to individual pet owners, governments and commercial companies on how to best nurture relationships between animal and human.

  1. Our puss sleeps on the end of the bed – usually on my hubby’s ankles or legs. Sometimes between us. Then, when he thinks it’s time to get up – he miaows in our ears. If we try to ignore him, he walks over us & nudges us till we wake up ! I seem to sleep better after I feel that thump when he lands on the bed !

    1 REPLY
    • All our pets, firstly dogs, now cats, have slept on our bed in the past. Now our Ragdoll cat sleeps where she chooses, and wakes us up early for her breakfast! When she was a kitten, she slept under the duvet at our feet.

  2. My beautiful previous ‘foster homed’ Siamese cat, has a need to be with me all the time!
    He loves snuggling next to me, or under doona, to keep warm. He’s his own ‘blue cushion’ to sleep on, which he does, curled up in the tightest of balls!

    I get the feeling he didn’t have too much affection given him previously, hence his constant need of pats, hugs, cuddles, & ‘talking’ to him!
    He’s a marvellous little companion, & we get on fine!

  3. No way would I have an ass licking flea bitten varmit on my bed Smelly things

    1 REPLY
    • Feel sorry for you and all the love you are missing out on.

  4. I’m 73 and can’t remember a time when I haven’t slept with a cat in my bed, I currently share it with three of them all cuddled up with me under the blankets.

  5. I have always let my cats and dogs sleep on the bed. When my boyfriend moved in 9 years ago, my black lab and my cat always slept on the bed. Boyfriend didn’t say anything. The lab and cat have died, and three years ago we adopted a Siberian who is now 90 pounds. Boyfriend says our Sibe cannot come up on the bed. I am bereft and getting close to bringing him up on the bed anyhow. I will might get a California King sized bed and give doggie a corner of it.

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