If you share a bed with your dog, you’re in good company. Nearly half of Americans report that they sleep alongside their beloved pet. But for every fan of co-sleeping is another pet owner who wouldn’t dream of letting their dog join them in bed.
It’s a topic that dog owners love to debate. And, as with most things, there’s a positive—and a not-so-positive—side to consider.
Only you can make the final decision on your dog’s sleeping arrangements. We’ve rounded up some of the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your pooch so you can make the choice that’s best for both of you.
The pros of sharing a bed with your dog
First, let’s examine the positive side of sleeping alongside your dog.
1. Your dog will keep you warm
Ever hear someone refer to a bitterly cold night as a “three dog night?” This phrase was coined in reference to the Australian Aborigines who slept alongside their dingos to stay warm on freezing nights in the outback.
Of course, we’re not braving the elements while we sleep, but if you’re looking to slash your heating bill, cozying up to your dog can be just the thing. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans, so they make pleasantly warm sleeping buddies. It’s like having a fuzzy, heated blanket to cuddle with. You can’t beat that!
2. You’ll sleep better
A recent study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found evidence that people who co-slept with their dogs actually experienced a higher level of sleep efficiency than those who did not. By monitoring the sleep patterns of both human and canine participants, researchers determined that co-sleeping can actually improve our sleep quality.
3. You’ll feel safe and secure
Having a dog present while you sleep is undeniably comforting. No matter his size, a protective watchdog can alert you to any potential intruders, allowing you to rest easy through the night. People who live alone may find the extra sense of safety that their dog provides is well worth the trouble of sharing a bed.
A 2018 study published in the Anthrozoos Journal turned up some interesting findings about women who co-slept with a dog: by and large, the women reported that they felt greater security sleeping next to a dog than they did with a human bunkmate!
4. Your stress level will decrease
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Did you know that pet ownership comes with some serious health perks? It’s true—dogs (and cats) are top-of-the-line stress relievers. Just being around a pet can lower both your blood pressure and cortisol level (stress hormone). Cuddling your dog at night is a great way to capitalize on his stress-minimizing skills. Being close to your canine companion will boost your flow of oxytocin, making you feel relaxed and calm.
5. You’ll bond with your dog
We all know that dogs are pack animals. Hence, their preference for sleeping in cozy heaps together. Co-sleeping with your dog is a fantastic way to reinforce the bond you share. Sleeping together is also a great way for your dog to display his complete trust in you: since dogs are most vulnerable during sleep, a dog who sleeps with you is confirming your status as “one of the pack.”
6. You’ll make-up for time spent at the office
Piggybacking on our last point, co-sleeping with your dog can be a great way to get some extra time in with him. Most of us spend 8-10 hours per day away from our pets—and sleeping with your dog helps to fill in those gaps. Between the pre-snooze cuddles and the early morning wake-up kisses, you’ll enjoy plenty of quality Fido time.
7. It will make you a morning person (hopefully!)
Up and at ‘em! A doggie roommate won’t be shy about letting you know when it’s time for his morning walk. Be prepared for a friendly onslaught of licking and pawing until your feet hit the floor. For those of us who need a little persuasion to get out of bed, this can be a welcome source of motivation.
The cons of sharing a bed with your dog
Of course, bunking down with a dog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Check out these potential downsides to sleeping next to your dog.
1. It can interrupt your sleep
If you have a fidgety, restless sleeper on your hands, sharing a bed might mean fewer zzzz’s for you. A yappy guard dog or a dog who snores like a freight train could seriously hurt the quality of your sleep. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced the havoc that a compromised sleep schedule can wreak on our overall health and happiness. If this is you: perhaps it’s time to train Fido to sleep in his own quarters.
2. You could lose valuable bedroom real estate
There’s also the issue of space. If you have a large dog, you could end up with a itty-bitty sliver of mattress to sleep on. Just something to think about.
If you are worried about your dog being comfortable, you can find mass produced and even custom dog beds at local pet stores.
3. It could interfere with your romantic relationship
Although some people may find this hard to believe, not everyone loves dogs. It’s important, therefore, to consider your partner’s feelings towards canines. If he’s less than thrilled to share your bed with the dog, things could escalate into a serious case of resentment down the line. Plus—there’s no getting around it—having some extra company in bed usually translates to less spontaneous bedroom activity. Total buzzkill.
4. You could be inviting fleas to the slumber party
Fleas, ticks, worms, parasites—dogs can bring home all kinds of unwelcome critters. Letting your dog sleep in your bed carries the risk of a full-blown bedroom infestation. But, for the most part, this doesn’t need to be a top concern. As long as your dog is in good health and is up-to-date on vaccinations and vet visits, the risk of him spreading an illness to you is very low.
The one exception is anyone who suffers from a weakened immune system. For cancer patients, HIV patients, and transplant recipients, PetMD advises against co-sleeping with a pet.
5. You’ll have extra laundry duty
Even the tidiest pooch carries some unwanted dirt around. Be ready to wash your sheets more frequently. And for pet owners of heavy shedders (we’re looking at you, Golden Retrievers) a hair-filled bed takes on a whole new meaning.
6. Your allergies could get worse
Allergy-sufferers, be warned: sleeping next to your dog could send your allergies into overdrive. Even if you’re not allergic to pet dander, your dog is likely to carry dust and pollen into bed with him. If sneezing and sniffling all night long isn’t your idea of a good time, you may want to reconsider your position on canine co-sleeping.
7. You may need to deal with some potty accidents
All puppies have accidents—it’s just a part of puppyhood. But accidents on your lovely duvet cover? Ghastly. Especially if it requires a steam cleaning mattress service. Incontinence can also become a problem with senior dogs, so just keep that in mind.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. You could read all the studies in the world on the topic, but if you and your dog are happy with your current sleep arrangements, there’s no need to change things up. There’s zero harm in letting your dog join you in bed, as long as you’re both comfortable and able to get adequate rest. You’ll need it once your loveable, furry alarm clock wakes you up with all the early morning puppy kisses.