More and more people are letting Fido and Sassy cuddle up with them at night in their bed. It’s estimated that 79% of pet owners co-sleep with their pets. Pets provide companionship and extra warmth on cold nights. They can also evoke a sense of security, help reduce stress and anxiety, and increase your oxytocin levels, which helps you feel more content and help you fall asleep faster. However, most physicians and veterinarians discourage letting Fido sleep in your bed especially if you already have problems falling asleep.
The first concern is hygiene. Animals can carry illnesses that humans can catch including skin infections like staph and ringworm and parasites like fleas. The close contact experienced when allowing your pet to sleep in your bed can make it easy for these illnesses to spread.
Another potential hazard to consider before cuddling up with Spot is allergies and asthma triggers. While you may not be allergic to your dog, your dog does carry allergens. Every time your dog goes outside to go to the bathroom, he’s exposed to pollen and dust. These stick to his fur and paws. If you let your dog sleep with you, all that dust and pollen end up in your bed. If you’ve been sneezing, it might be pollen on your pillowcase.
Finally the biggest concern physicians have about co-sleeping with animals is the potential sleep disruptions caused from the animal moving, making noise, or taking up space. For example, what happens when Fido wakes up at 3:00 o’clock in the morning to scratch under his collar or to bark at something outside the window? Human beings need 7-9 hours of continuous sleep every night in order to properly function. It’s very difficult to get those 7-9 hours when Fido won’t be still.
The easiest way to determine if you need to stop letting your pet sleep in your bed is to simply ask, “Do I sleep better when he’s not in the room?” If your pet is keeping you up at night, it’s time to consider other options. If you don’t trust your dog to roam the house at night, consider crating him. It might take a few weeks for your dog to get comfortable with a crate, but your sleep will benefit from it in the long run.
If you’ve taken the dog out of your room, but you’re still waking up in the middle of the night, having trouble breathing, or feeling groggy and tired no matter how much you sleep, it may be time to see a sleep specialist about possible sleep disorders. For more information call us at (662) 841-6501.