The question of whether or not to allow your pup to sleep with you is a common dilemma among us dog parents. While snuggling up with your pup can be comforting, provide security, and is a way to strengthen the bond you share, there are potential drawbacks to consider. For one, our pups can be bed hogs, making it difficult for both you and your dog to fall and stay asleep. Plus, when our bodies are contorted to make room for our dog, waking up a bit sore is not uncommon. And if our dog hasn’t had a bath in awhile, they aren’t the cleanest bed mate.
Despite these concerns, the benefits of curling up next to your pup often outweigh the negatives. In fact, a recent survey found that 66% of dog parents allow their dogs to sleep in their beds.
If you’re among the many pet parents who are considering (or already) making extra room in the bed for your dog to catch some zzz’s with you, check out our tips for a healthy co-sleeping experience.
Factors to Consider Before Sharing the Bed with Your Dog
Before you let your dog sleep with you, make sure the experience is comfortable for both you and your dog. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Does your dog have health conditions, such as diarrhea, pain issues, urinary incontinence, that may make sleeping in a bed challenging?
- Does your pup snore loudly, roll over, or kicks while snoozing, making it hard for you to get a good night’s sleep?
- Is your dog territorial over the bed and “claims” it or exhibits aggressive behavior while in bed?
- Do you have environmental allergies or does your dog’s fur irritate your skin?
- Are you a light sleeper and have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep.
These questions can help determine if co-sleeping with your dog is ideal for either of you.
Benefits of Having Your Dog Sleep in Your Bed
From the extra warmth to the emotional comfort, there’s nothing better than winding down and snuggling up with our canine companions.
The above mentioned survey discovered “seven in 10 believe they get better quality sleep when their pet is in bed with them at night.” Additionally, 58 percent of people in relationships reported they would rather share their bed with their pets versus their partners. Ouch.
Let’s take a deeper look at the perks of sleeping with your dog:
It can reduce stress levels.
As dog parents, we know the kind of comfort our pups bring us firsthand. And even better? Research has found simply petting or touching our dogs can help us de-stress.
“Dogs can provide a sense of security for pet parents when co-sleeping and some people sleep better when snuggled next to their pet,” says Dr. Carling Matejka, a veterinarian at Fen Vet and Trinity Hills Pet Hospital. “Studies show that pets can calm people and lower blood pressure and stress levels, which can aid in a good night’s sleep.”
It can increases the bond between dogs and their human.
No matter how we spent our day, there’s something special about bringing it to a close and snoozing with our dogs.
“Sleeping in the same bed as your pet can provide a healthy and positive experience and connection for both you and your dog, especially if you are gone most of the day,” Dr. Matejka says. This time spent together, she adds, is great to form a closer bond.
It can make dog parents feel safe.
We’re at our most vulnerable when we’re asleep. If anything is out of the ordinary, like an unusual sound or smell, your dog will likely be the first to let you know. “Heavy sleepers may rest better knowing that their pet will wake them up if there is a nighttime emergency like a fire or break-in,” says Dr. Matejka.
Dogs are so alert that having one in your home is one of the biggest deterrents for break-ins while neighborhoods with higher concentration of dogs may actually deter crime, including homicide, robbery, and aggravated assaults, according to research.
5 Tips for a Healthy and Comfortable Sleeping Experience with Your Dog
Ready for constant sleepovers with your best furry friend? Here are a few ways you can co-sleep with your dog and make it a comfortable experience for everyone involved.
1. Be sure your dog has safe and easy access on and off the bed.
“If your pet has musculoskeletal issues like arthritis, climbing on and off the bed can be very difficult,” Dr. Matejka says. “A bed lower to the ground will allow pets to get on and off their bed without pain. If your dog is used to sleeping on the bed and you can pick your dog on and off the bed, this may make it easier on them.”
You can also use a ramp or pet stairs so your dog can reach the floor safely on their own.
2. Give your dog their own space.
“Personal space” might not be in your dog’s vocabulary. But even if your pup loves to paw open the door when you’re in the bathroom or make their presence known during your Zoom meetings, Dr. Kristin Kutscher of URvet Care says some dogs like having their own place on the bed. Plus, they often enjoy having their own blanket too, she adds.
3. Keep your dog clean.
Hygiene is always important to consider, but especially when sharing the bed — both for your and your dog’s overall health.
Dr. Kutscher suggests cleaning your dog’s paws with a wipe to get off any dirt, debris, or mud after they’ve been outside, as they could have stepped into something you wouldn’t want on your bed covers.
These eco-friendly wipes are perfect to wash your dog’s face, paws, ears, and bum. Infused with natural ingredients, including moisturizing aloe vera and soothing chamomile, the wipes are not only great for keeping your dog clean, but also the planet.
Something else to keep in mind? Parasites, she adds.
“Dogs have the risk of carrying internal parasites, fleas, and ticks that can carry human illnesses and can make us sick,” she says. “Sleeping with your pet can increase the risk of exposure to these parasites. Make sure your pet is in routine internal and external parasite treatment.”
4. Make sure the environment isn’t too hot.
“Some dogs can overheat when sleeping in a bed and some like to have a change in the sleeping area throughout the night,” Dr. Matejka says. “It is best to have different sleeping options available for your dog. Make sure that your pet has an alternative sleeping situation — and is able to get off the bed — in case they get too hot or want a change in environment.”
Get your dog settled in for a blissful snooze with this calming spray. Made with lavender and grapefruit, the spray is perfect for creating a relaxing environment for your pup. Just spray on their bed an hour or so before it’s sleep time. Bonus: it eliminates that unpleasant dog bed odor we have all smelled.
5. Wash your bedding frequently.
Your bed is your place to rest and recharge. One of the downsides of co-sleeping with your dog is the inevitable pet hair, dander, and bacteria. Fortunately, simply setting some time aside for laundry can make for a safer, healthier co-sleep experience.
“Because pets do not get bathed as often as we do, regular bedding changes or washes are necessary for proper hygiene,” says Dr. Matejka. “It is recommended to wash your bedding every one to two weeks depending on the size of your dog, with larger dogs requiring more frequent bedding washing.”
What to Avoid When Sharing the Bed With Your Dog
Dr. Matejka says to not force the co-sleeping experience, especially since some dogs may have high stress or anxiety and ultimately prefer to sleep solo in their own space. And if your pooch would rather sleep in your bed, she recommends to avoid tucking them in or covering them with a blanket, as it can increase your dog’s risk of suffocating.
Dr. Matejka lastly suggests keeping the bed free of any toys that can indicate playtime. “Try to keep toys that energize your pet out of this space,” she says. “Your pet will learn over time that this is a place to rest and not a place to be active.”
Allowing your dog to sleep with you can be a wonderful time to bond. Just make sure you both are enjoying the experience.