Sleeping with Dogs: The Advantages and Disadvantages
Three out of every five Americans share their home with at least one dog, and many of those dog owners also share their bed. A 2015 Harris Poll found that 71 percent of dog owners allow their furry friends to snuggle up in bed, while only 10 percent of dog owners never do. Roughly 80 percent of cat owners and 70 percent dog owners share their sleeping quarters with their dog, even if the animals don’t share the big bed.
But does sharing sleeping space with Fido and Fifi impact their owners’ sleep?
Advantages and Disadvantages
Co-sleeping with dogs may have some notable benefits, including social support and increased feelings of personal security, according to research published in Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals. In a small study from the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Sleep Medicine, 41 percent of participants said pets were unobtrusive or beneficial to their sleep. Research shows just being in the same room as your dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate when you’re under stress, according to the Frontiers in Psychology journal.
But sharing the bed with dogs can pose some risks and challenges, including the potential spread of bacterial, parasitic, and viral zoonoses, which is any disease or infection that can be transmitted from animals to humans, as the Centers for Disease Control notes.
Dogs can also be disruptive, says the Providence Medical Group. From snoring and kicking to taking up too much of the bed, dogs can break their human’s sleep cycle. People who co-sleep with their furry friends take longer to fall asleep and are more likely to wake up tired compared to people who don’t sleep with dogs, according to the Anthrozoos journal study.
Tips for sleeping with your dog
Before you banish Fido from the bedroom, check out these tips to ensure both you and your dog sleep more comfortably.
Schedule frequent vet visits
Regular checkups can help identify and treat diseases and keep fleas and ticks at bay, according to VCA Animal Hospitals, a chain of 600 veterinary hospitals. Veterinarians advise dog owners to set up a visit at least once a year, if not twice. During your dog’s first year, monthly or bi-monthly visits may be necessary to keep up with vaccinations.
Bathe dogs regularly
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends bathing dogs at least once every three months. If your dog spends more time outdoors, it’s a good idea to bathe them more frequently. Cats are fastidious self-groomers, but may require a bath if they get unusually dirty, the ASPCA says. Regularly brushing cats and dogs can help remove dirt and identify fleas before the annoying pests start co-sleeping with you too.
Wash bedding often
It’s a good idea to wash bed sheets once a week, according to Today.com. If your dog is especially dirty, wash your sheets more frequently in hot water to remove dust, dirt and germs.
Consider new rules
If your dog hogs the bed, it may be time to move it to the floor. Create a comfortable, inviting sleep space on the floor or in a different room. Don’t let their whining deter your efforts. Allowing your dog back in bed just once can confuse a dog and prolong the process.
If the benefits of co-sleeping outweigh the drawbacks, go ahead and maintain your routine. But if your dog’s snoring or bed hogging hinder your sleep on a regular basis, it may be best change the arrangement.
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