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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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?