You and your four-legged best friend do everything together. You play, go for walks, cuddle when you’re sad, and if you’re like more than 75% of pet owners, even share the bed at night. But is it safe to share your sleeping space with your pet, or should you train your dog or cat to sleep on their own?
The answer depends on your health and that of your furry friend. Generally, the risk of catching a serious disease from your pet via bed-sharing is very low, provided that your pet is healthy and receives regular veterinary care, including screening for fleas and parasites. If you’re pregnant, have a compromised immune system, or are undergoing chemotherapy, you’re much more vulnerable to illness and would likely be better off keeping your bed a pet-free zone. The same goes for if you have allergies, asthma, or sleep apnea.
Another thing to consider is whether your pet disturbs your sleep. You don’t need us to tell you that dogs and cats have individual personalities, and their sleep habits are no exception. Some will happily curl up at the foot of the bed until you wake up, while others roll around, get between you and your partner (literally), or jump on your head after they’ve had a nightmare. We all love our animal friends, but a well-rested pet owner is a better pet owner.
Now for the upside. As any fellow pet owner will tell you, sharing the bed with a furry friend is good for the soul. Pets can provide a sense of security and companionship, and there’s good evidence that they help soothe psychological conditions like anxiety and depression. Sleep is a state of physical and mental relaxation, so if Fido snoring happily nearby helps you manage your stress, sharing a bed with him may help you fall and stay asleep.
All in all, if you have no major health concerns and take good care of your pet, many vets and physicians say the risks of sharing the bed are low. Just make sure you keep vaccinations up to date, use tick and flea preventatives, and treat illnesses and skin problems promptly. In addition, even people without allergies should consider installing a quality high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to mitigate the risk of airborne irritants.
Lastly, make sure to use a mattress protector—though this is a good idea whether or not you sleep with your pet. In the case of an accident, it’s a whole lot easier to throw a cover in the wash than it is to clean a mattress!