Can my dog sleep in bed?
In the eyes of many dog owners, it is quite normal to let their four-legged friend jump on the bed and cuddle with them as they slowly fall asleep.
More and more people let their dog sleep on the bed. This is especially popular among the younger generation, with many claiming it is beneficial for their sleep.
Many people see nothing strange or dangerous in this behavior and allow their dogs to sleep with them every night.
But is it wise to do that? Is it a good idea to let your dog sleep on your bed and does it really make your sleep better?
Let's take a closer look at this question and see what science has to say about it.
How many people let their dog sleep in their bed?
As mentioned earlier, some dog owners find it the most normal thing in the world for their dog to sleep in their bed, while others don't even want the dog in the bedroom.
Like us, you probably wonder how many people sleep with a dog in their bed at night.
In a recent analysis of the "U.S. pet owners," more than 56% of dog owners claim to let their dog sleep in their bed. In addition, 50% of them also let their dogs sleep next to them on the bed at night.
According to a survey of 159 pet households in the Netherlands, 45% of dog owners let their dogs sleep on the bed, while 18% of them go a step further and let their dogs rest next to them at night.
The phenomenon is less popular in the Netherlands than in America, but there are also plenty of dog owners here who sleep in a bed with their dog.
This behavior seems to be most common among young single women between the ages of 18 and 35. Logical of course, because it's nice to be able to snuggle up against something and your dog is probably your most important companion in the house if you live alone.
On the other hand, married men over the age of 45 seem to be the least likely to accept the dog's company on the bed at night.
In many cases, however, it is not easy to make the final decision whether your pet sleeps on or next to the bed. Especially when the decision has to be made by two people, a discussion often arises about allowing the dog in bed.
Usually, the result is that the dog is kicked out of bed to avoid arguments and perhaps even a breakup.
Therefore, when it comes to couples, many struggle with this decision. In the case of 13% of them, it can go so far as to cause disputes and serious relationship problems between the couple.
Why do people let their dogs sleep in bed?
Why do some dog owners let their dogs sleep in their beds, you may ask. Wouldn't it be easier to just close the doors and leave the dog out of the bedroom at night?
You might think this is a thing of the times, but people have used domestic dogs since ancient times for a variety of reasons, some of which may surprise you.
Many dogs help track down and hunt prey, others are said to be used as herding dogs. Yet another group would be used as guard dogs or pets.
However, there is also evidence that the ancient Romans and Greeks would allow their dogs to sleep in bed with them to take advantage of their warmth and protection.
Many historical figures are known to have slept in bed with their dogs. For example, some Egyptian pharaohs, tsars of Russia or kings of European tribes are known for "sharing their bed with their dog."
Another example of a famous historical figure who reportedly slept next to his dog is Alexander the Great. It is believed that the legendary king of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia was resting in bed with his beloved dog – Peritas, after long days of fighting.
For some, co-sleeping with their favorite dog has a positive psychological impact. This idea is indeed reinforced by science.
According to an analysis of dog owners who sleep with their pets, more than half believe this habit is beneficial for their sleep.
The idea of comfort and warmth in combination with safety and protection is a good motivation for many people and many dog owners end up letting their dog sleep on the bed.
Benefits of having a dog
In recent years, more and more studies have been done on whether having a dog has benefits or not.
It's not a foreign concept to most of us that dog owners derive a physical benefit from having a dog in the first place. A dog always gives you company, and your four-legged friend ensures that you have to go outside regularly, so that you often get enough exercise in the fresh air.
Research suggests that having a dog can reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and reduce excess weight. However, most of these benefits are a result of the increased physical activity that dog owners have on a daily basis.
In addition, according to some reports, dog owners appear to have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in their bodies that is responsible for higher blood pressure and anxiety. Petting your dog for just a few minutes a day can increase levels of serotonin and prolactin, which have a positive effect on your mood and body.
A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that there are benefits even for infants and small children. For example, the presence of a dog in the household would stimulate the development of the immune system in small children.
Benefits of cuddling with a dog
It is clear that having a dog has advantages, but what about sleeping together next to a dog at night? Does it really have health benefits for you as an owner?
Many people claim that they feel safer with their dogs. The feeling of protection is indeed higher than normal, but it is a subjective feeling and not everyone shares it.
Some people believe that the sense of protection and psychological comfort can be mutual for humans and dogs, which makes them happy to make their bed available to the dog.
Recent reports suggest that people are increasingly viewing their dogs as members of their family. This means that many dog owners feel obligated to give their dog the best possible life.
This often leads to situations where dogs are allowed on the bed, despite the fact that this sometimes causes irritation for their owners instead of an undisturbed restful night's sleep.
Some dog owners would argue that there is one unquestionable benefit of having a dog's company during the night. Dogs can provide an extra source of warmth that we long for during the long and cold night.
The temperature of the human body can vary from 36.5 to 37.5 degrees. Dogs differ from humans in this aspect and their body temperature can range from 38.5 to 39 degrees.
Those few extra degrees can indeed warm the bed nicely and create a soft and cozy place for us to sleep in. But is that really a good thing?
Does a dog in bed improve your sleep?
If you regularly fall asleep next to your dog, you may already know that this is not always the case. Your dog takes up too much space, may change positions several times a night, and end up with the temperature in bed set to a hot oven.
Certainly the latter does not always have a positive effect on your sleep. For example, a recent study found that the reduction in body temperature during the night helps initiate sleep.
This is also why it is suggested that the best room temperature for a good night's sleep is between 16 – 19 degrees.
If your dog sleeps right next to you, it inadvertently raises the temperature around you. As a result, you sleep less comfortably and you will wake up more often in between.
Conversely, it can of course turn out positively for you if you are always cold. By using your dog as a heating element, you do not need an expensive electric heating blanket.
Dog in the bedroom, yes or no?
For many dog owners, whether or not the dog sleeps in the bedroom has never been a debatable issue. They find it cozier, or have become accustomed to it by allowing the dog into the bedroom as a puppy.
The question is, of course, whether it is beneficial for the dog owner to have a dog in the bedroom at night.
Interesting studies were conducted in 2015 by Center for Sleep Medicine, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, USA. In this study, 150 patients (49% of whom were pets) with sleep disorders were examined.
According to the findings, more than half of pet owners claim they have no problem letting their pets sleep in the bedroom with them.
However, of the 74 owners, 15 (20%) admitted that their pets were disruptive at night and caused them some form of discomfort.
On the other hand, 31 out of 74 owners (41%) claim that their pets do not cause any kind of nuisance at night and even prove to be beneficial for their sleep.
The Mayo Clinic findings are interesting; however, it is important to remember that they mainly focused on pets in the bedroom and not necessarily on the bed.
The research conducted by Center for Sleep Medicine can be supported by other small-scale studies that reported that a dog in the bedroom is not as bad as previously thought.
However, sleeping in a bed with your dog makes all the difference and it's not a positive one.
Apparently, the sleep efficiency of owners who sleep in a bed with their pets is lower compared to those who allow their dogs in the bedroom but not on the bed.
Why is it better not to allow a dog in the bed?
So far, the benefits of sleeping on the bed with the dog at night are questionable, and most depend on the owner's individual and subjective feeling. We haven't discussed the other side of the coin either – the risks associated with sleeping with your pet.
This is not only about a less good night's sleep, there are also other risks to your health that you should consider.
What are the risks of sleeping with your dog?
What about the potential risks of cuddling the dog together or letting him sleep right next to us at night? Is it safe at all to let our dogs stay on the bed or do we have to keep the bed clear of dogs at all times?Parasites and bacteria
First, anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that dogs are not the cleanest animals in the animal kingdom. To put it simply, they like to go out and get dirty.
They often engage in activities that seem disgusting to many people. They roll in carcasses, eat anything in their path, including other animals' faeces, or jump into a pond with nothing but mud and dirt.
All of those things can be dangerous and provide a way for parasites and bacteria to infect your dog.
From time to time, dogs carry diseases or parasites that their owners may not even know they can also become infected with.
A number of parasites or bacterial infections can be transmitted to humans in different but simple ways. For example, you can already be infected with it if the dog licks your face, or if you simply pet it.
Ringworm, Salmonella, Giardia and Roundworms are just a few examples of parasites and bacteria that you can share with your dog.
Sleeping with your dog increases the chances of exposure to these threats and can lead to serious health problems or infections.Allergies and dogs in bed
However, parasites and bacteria aren't the only thing your dog takes on an evening walk in the park.
Other things your dog will introduce to your bed are various allergens. Dogs can of course produce or carry allergens on their fur, saliva or urine.
If you have hay fever or are sensitive to pollen, your dog will most likely be the one to make your health problems worse by adding a conctail of various pollens to your bed.
Grass pollen can easily be transported on your dog's body and will find its way into your bed this way if you let your dog sleep in it.
Needless to say, this is the last thing you need if you suffer from an allergy as it disturbs your sleep and makes you feel tired, weak and sick.Restlessness at night
Dogs, like us, like to look for a perfect sleeping position. They will often walk around trying to figure out the best way to settle in for the night. This might be a bit entertaining at first, but over time, this behavior can often wake you up in the night.
Some dogs may wake up 3 to 4 times a night to change position or jump on or off the bed. This will probably wake you up every time, giving you much less sleep than you want.
Not to mention barking or growling at noises outside or at you for moving your arm or leg. A barking dog will quickly wake you from your peaceful deep sleep, I can promise you that.
Constant disturbance, movement and noise can make your sleep light and uncomfortable and slowly lead to sleep deprivation.
In addition, many pet owners are busy with their animals in the middle of the night, thinking there is a reason why their pets woke up. This, in turn, reinforces the dog's behavior and leads to even more broken nights.
It is not so good for old or small dogs
Another reason why you should consider not letting your dog sleep on your bed is the fact that it can be a little tricky for some dogs to get on or off the bed.
Older dogs may suffer from hip dysplasia and have difficulty jumping on the bed. They can also injure themselves trying to jump off the bed because their joints aren't as strong and flexible as they used to be.
A similar problem occurs in small breeds. Beds are usually quite high for small dogs, which can cause serious injury to smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas if they try to jump off them.
However, you can reduce these risks by, for example, making a step by the bed for your small or old dog. You can also ensure that the floor around the bed has a non-slip surface so that your dog cannot slip on it.
What can you do to help your dog sleep well?
Instead of letting your dog sleep on your bed, give him a comfortable private dog bed. This is not only beneficial for you, but also for your dog. Of course, dogs also need a good resting place.
This sounds less cozy, but in the long run it is beneficial for everyone, for you, your partner and your dog.
A separate dog bed for your dog takes away the causes of your broken nights and creates a safe environment for everyone to sleep in.
Not all dogs like to sleep on the floor. Some enjoy sleeping or relaxing in elevated places such as couches or beds.
Giving your dog his own dog bed will make him feel warm and safe while being higher off the ground.
Place the basket in a dark or shady corner of the bedroom, away from drafts and cold. This will help your dog sleep better, making him feel more alert and less irritable during the day.
You will also feel much better if you sleep better at night.
dog in bed; to do or not to do?
Despite all common belief, the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to sleeping with a pet on the same bed.
There aren't many benefits to sleeping next to your dog, and it can actually have a negative effect on your sleep cycle and your overall mood or health.
Instead of sleeping in the bed with your dog, we recommend that you give your dog a separate bed and place it somewhere in the bedroom that is easily accessible.
That way you still have your dog with you at night, but avoid the risk of getting sick or disrupting your sleep.
This BLOG has been posted on our website as a guest blog with the author's approval.