The debate over whether dogs should sleep with you has good arguments on both sides of the fence — or onboth sides of the bed in this case. An interesting survey from WebMD discovered that dog owners are somewhat divided over whether their furry friend should sleep in their beds with them.
Nearly 62 percent of small dog owners do allow their dogs to sleep with them. The same holds true for 41 percent of medium sized dog owners and 32 percent of people who own large dogs. For cats, the numbers are also interesting, with 62 percent of cats sleeping with their adult owners and 13 percent sleeping with the children in the household.
Before you bring Fido into the bed, though, it’s a good idea to sort out fact from fiction and pro from con to help you decide whether the realities of sleeping with your pet make it the right choice for you.
Pros of Sleeping with Pets
Different people enjoy different benefits from a pet sleeping with them. Some people thrive from having their pets nearby at night for these reasons.
Heavy sleepers often feel that having their dogs share their beds provides an added layer of security and protection – especially if their dogs are protective of their humans.
Dogs do not need to be large dogs to provide this particular layer of security. Small dogs that are likely to bark – and who are highly protective of their owners or spaces – can be equally beneficial in offering feelings of security for owners. One study reported about on the Today Show reveals that owners feel “safer, more secure, and relaxed” at night when their pets sleep with them.
People who tend to run a little cold at night especially appreciate the addition of a furry warm body in the bed. Dogs tend to run a little warmer than their human companions, with a normal temperature running between 101 to 102.5 degrees (compared to humans normal core body temperature of 98.6) This can create a huge bundle of warmth to snuggle up to on those long cold winter nights – without turning up the heat.
Many dog owners choose to sleep with their dogs for a sense of companionship. This especially seems to be true among those who are single or in unhealthy or bad relationships. Others simply enjoy the close contact and interaction that a pet in bed provides. Some children who fear the dark also find comfort when sharing a bed with pets and it can help to strengthen the bond between pets and owners.
Canines are often used as therapy for people who are anxious, have insomnia, stressed, or have an illness. Cuddling with a dog can release oxytocin which helps to reduce stress and even lower blood pressure.
Fido Likes It
The final pro to letting your dog sleep with you is less selfish than the other reasons presented thus far. The fact is that in most cases your dog enjoys sleeping with you. Since dogs rely on their sense of smell to interpret their environment, being able to smell their “human owner” is comforting to them.
Cons of Sleeping with Pets
Sharing your bed with anyone can be a struggle. Whether it’s another human, a child, a cat, or a dog, there are many reasons to think twice before making the decision to share a bed. These are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Is Your Pet a Bed Hog?
It’s not that big of a deal if your Chihuahua likes to spread out as much as possible while sleeping at night. It’sanother thing entirely if you’re trying to share a bed with a Great Dane who wants to take up more than his fair share of the bed. Remember that while they are puppies, these tendencies may be cute. They are something else entirely once he reaches adult size.
How much space do you really need to sleep? Make sure your bed is big enough to give you the space you need before bringing your puppy into the bed with you.
Does Your Pet Shed?
Pets that frequently shed mean additional laundry for you – and hair everywhere. Even with the most diligent grooming practices some pups blow several coats a year and those will land largely in the areas where he sleeps.
How Does Your Partner Feel about Fido in the Bed?
One thing to consider before bringing pets into the bed is how your partner feels about it. It is a big deal. Pets can drive a wedge between the two of you – literally and figuratively – through physical distance and by limiting intimacy and spontaneity. Over time that can lead to resentment for the pet and trouble in the relationship.
We listed the fact that a dog's core body temperature runs about 2.4 to 3.9 degrees higher than us humans. And we listed this as a “pro” for those who like to be warm when they sleep. However, on the flip-side, people who tend to sleep hot, or simply like it cool when they sleep, may find that having their dog sleeping with them causes overheating.
Does Your Dog have Dominance or Aggression Issues?
This one is important. Dogs are pack animals. If you’re struggling to establish yourself as leader of the pack with a strong-willed dog, the bed will give him another battle ground and it could prove problematic in the long-term. It’s important to have clearly established pack order before allowing the dog to sleep with you.
Are You Ready for the Reality?
Some dogs drool. Some shed. Some have stinky smelly outgassing problems. Some lick everything and then lick your face. If your dog coughs up hairballs (or other things) in the middle of the night, these things will land promptly in your bed. So, yes, even if you are meticulous about cleaning and grooming your dog, sharing a bed may involve never ending cleaning.
The reality among pet owners who do sleep with their pets is that many of them find the routine to be beneficial and worthwhile. Only 15 percent of those who participated in a Mayo Clinic study reported their pets as being disruptive to their sleep.
In the end, it’s up to you to choose whether you’re comfortable with the idea or not – and that may depend largely on your specific pet, your partner, the size of your bed, and more. Regardless, as long as dogs are a man’s best friend, this debate will likely continue with sound arguments on both sides.