Some people enjoy space with their partner in bed at night, free from dogs and cats. For others, the thought of sleeping without a furry companion is unimaginable. In fact, about half of pet parents let their dogs sleep in bed with them.
If you’re on the fence, there are pros and cons to allowing dogs and cats to share your bed.
The 5 Pros of Letting Your Pet Sleep With You
1. More Cuddle Time
When you work all day, clean, make dinner, and care for family, there’s not a lot of time left over for pets. Having your dog or cat sleeping in bed with you gives you a lot of cuddling and bonding time that you may not have otherwise. There are feel-good benefits for you, too. Cuddling with a dog can reduce stress.
2. Stronger Bond
Some research suggests that co-sleeping with your dog can help you build a stronger bond. By sleeping next to you, your dog feels like part of the “pack.” This close space can strengthen trust and bring your relationship closer over time, especially as your dog ages.
3. More Security
Some people just sleep better knowing someone is with them. What better way than with an animal that’s alert and protective? Sleeping with your pet can give you a sense of security knowing that it will react to any suspicious events or sounds and wake you.
4. Relief From Insomnia
People who suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems may find better sleep when lying next to a living creature with rhythmic breathing patterns—especially if they usually sleep alone.
5. Extra Warmth
On a cold night, the warmth from a dog or cat can be comforting and may help you fall asleep more easily. It’s also nice for smaller dogs or ones that are sensitive to cold since they can get some of your body heat.
The 5 Cons of Letting Your Pet Sleep With You
1. More Cramped
Sharing a bed with another being—dog or human—can leave you with less space to stretch out and get a good night’s rest. Conventional wisdom suggests that a large dog will take up more space than a small one, but anyone who’s shared space with a cat or small dog knows they can lay in strategic spots to hog all the space.
2. Poor Sleep
While there may be benefits to cuddling your dog or cat at night, having a small body sharing space can disrupt your restful sleep. You may end up sleeping in an uncomfortable position to avoid disturbing your pet, leading to pain or discomfort in the morning. Dogs and cats can have vivid dreams as well, and those sounds and twitches can wake a light sleeper.
3. Sudden Wakeups
Though sleeping with a pet can bring security, sharing space with a predator that sleeps light could mean more times being jolted awake. Dogs and cats often sleep light and can hear much better than people. You could be sound asleep when your dog suddenly barks at the car going down the street or the cat takes off across the room to chase a shadow.
4. Less Hygienic
There are health risks to having a pet in bed with you. Fleas, ticks, dander, hair, germs, and even parasites can transfer from your pet to your bed easily. This is especially problematic for people with allergies as well since they’re breathing all that in overnight. If you’re concerned but want your pet in bed, keeping up with flea and tick preventatives and keeping your pet on top of the blanket can help. It is not recommended for people with weak immune systems to allow their pets on their beds.
5. Risks to You or Your Pet
Aside from the hygiene issue, there are real risks to both you and your dog from having them in bed with you. If you’re a restless sleeper, you could accidentally startle your dog or cat in your sleep and get a bite or scratch. Conversely, you may roll over onto your pet, kick or hit it, or tangle it in the blankets.
Do Pets Want to Be in Our Beds?
Whether pets want to be in bed really depends on the pet. Cats are nocturnal, so they may prefer to be exploring the house while you’re sound asleep. Large or naturally warm dogs may want to stay on the floor where it’s cooler, and they can move freely.
Similarly, some pets are too anxious to sleep soundly in bed, especially with humans that move a lot in their sleep. This can be worse if the pet already had a bad experience, such as being accidentally kicked by an owner in the middle of the night.
That said, some dogs and cats like to sleep in bed with their owners. If you prefer your dog or cat to stay on the floor, it’s important to start the training early and be consistent. If you want your dog in bed only sometimes, use a signal to call it up. This keeps the bed as an “invitation,” rather than a constant right.
For dogs that like to be close, consider putting a dog bed near the bed. Your dog can see you and you can reach down to pet it, but still have the bed to yourself.
The Final Verdict
The pros and cons of sleeping with your pet in bed are pretty even. Ultimately, it’s a personal decision that depends on the dog or cat, their temperament, your space, your hygiene expectations, and how restfully you sleep normally.