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Is it OK for Your Pet to Sleep in Bed with You?

It’s a somewhat controversial issue, and it’s been debated for years. Is sharing your bed with your pet a good thing or a bad thing?

Some people are very close with their pets, and nightly snuggles with their cats and/or dogs are second nature. In fact, a survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners, while 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, and another 13% of cats sleep with children. Cuddling up with your pet in bed could make you warmer, calmer, safer, and more relaxed.

On the other hand, the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center completed a study in which about half the patients had a pet — and 53% of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way nightly. Besides insomnia, sleeping with your pets could acerbate your allergies and, in some rare cases, pass on zoonotic diseases. Not only that, a pet in bed could come between couples and interrupt, ahem, alone time.

So, before you let all your furry friends under the covers, there are some things you should consider.

Time For a Checkup

First, make sure your pets have all their vaccinations; routine vaccinations are essential to prevent infectious diseases. Always consult with your veterinarian first, but here are some vaccine recommendations for dogs, and some for cats.

Keep it Clean

Every pet can and should be regularly groomed. Grooming is an important part of your pet’s health program because it keeps your pets clean and odor-free, which will in turn keep your pillows and sheets clean and odor-free. Maintain a healthy coat and skin with regular brushing, combing, and shampooing. Pay close attention to eyes, ears, and teeth, and stay up on nail trims. Finally, keep an eye on the behind, and learn how to express your pet’s anal glands.

Eliminate Restrictions

If you are going to have your pets in bed with you, make sure they can easily get in and out of the bed and leave the room if they choose to do so. A free-spirited pet is a happier pet, and while many pets will be content to be snuggled up with you all night, others may want to come and go as they please. Also, make sure you’re ready for the late-night call of nature. For cats, make sure they can easily get to their litter boxes. For dogs, know their signals and cues so you can take them outside if they need to go.

Know Your Pet

Obviously, dogs and cats are different, and their sleeping needs and behaviors are different as well. Dogs sleep more than us, but they wake more frequently than we do. Still, they’re easily adaptable and can adjust their sleep pattern so that they can be awake when asked to, and asleep any other time. Cats spend an average of 13 to 16 hours each day snoozing, and generally do it whenever they choose. Kittens will sleep most of the day and want to play all night – making bedtime a struggle, but as they mature, cats’ sleep patterns begin to conform to those of adults, meaning multiple naps rather than one long rest.

The reality is, the choice of whether or not to have your pet sleep in bed with you is entirely up to you. Many pets are very close to their owners and enjoy the experience of sleeping in bed with them. And, if it makes you happy and isn’t harmful, who’s to tell you that it’s wrong? Like The Irreverent Vet says, “Saying ‘letting pets sleep next to you can make you ill’ is like saying ‘you should not drive because you could be in an accident’ … or ‘you should not walk down the street because you could be struck by lightning’ … or ‘you should not interact with any other humans because you could catch a cold from them.’ That kind of advice is both stupid and impractical.”