By Beth Green, Owner
Paws Pet Care
My personal answer is who cares? Our dogs are going to sleep with us whether they should or not….lol.
They won. At some point it just became easier to let them stay up there than to fight them off.
350 lbs of hot, hairy husband, (2) boxers and pibble (with me) in a queen size bed is not the best sleep I have ever had. So, we upgraded and bought a King size.
Curiously, I STILL end up on the couch some nights because I can’t sleep in my 4 inches of space. The things we do for our fur-kids, right? I mean, my “people” kids were NEVER allowed to sleep in our bed…..
My readers may want explanations and advice that leans toward the more scientific end, so here you go:
The Cleanliness Factor
If you are a germaphobe, don’t even read this part. I had a hard time writing it. Apparently our beds—whether we let our fur-kids snooze there or not—are a soup of hungry, microscopic dust mites. *gag*
And guess what dust mites eat? If you guessed your very own (and your pets) skin and dander you are correctamente’. *gag*
Most mattresses host anywhere from 100,000 to 8 million dust mites, according to Wisconsin-based indoor air specialist Dan Schilling. They’re known for aggravating allergies and asthma, and, regrettably, they get around. Studies estimate that up to ten percent of the total weight of each two-year-old pillow is a combination of (gulp) dead dust mites and their waste.
I am now googling the nearest mattress and pillow sales-place.
The Sleep (or lack of) Factor
Ashley B. Rudnick, Psy.D, a behavioral sleep specialist at The Center for Sleep Medicine in Naperville, feels that pets sleeping on the bed are rarely the exclusive, direct cause of insomnia. “Certainly, a patient who presents with existing sleep issues may struggle with pets who move around a lot, exhibit marked anxiety, or want to play fetch during the night,” she says. “But it’s also important to recognize that the mere proximity of a pet can represent a learned association that’s enormously soothing when it’s time to settle down for sleep.” Rudnick notes that rather than setting a hard and fast rule, she and her colleagues always carefully evaluate this issue with each patient on a contextual, case-by-case basis.
The Emotional Factor
I don’t know about you but in spite of getting booted from the bed most nights…I LIKE cuddling with my pets before I fall asleep. Snuggling with my “Biscuit” is very comforting to me and Char Sandberg, a licensed clinical professional counselor at Wheaton-based Meier Clinics agrees. “Though I haven’t directly addressed this issue from a clinical perspective, people can feel an extremely strong, empathetic connection with their pets,” Sandberg says. “In fact, caring for a pet is often an extension of our own self-care—so pet parents may derive a very positive, calming correlation from having their pet on the bed each night.”
The Pet Behaviour Factor
So here’s where it might get tricky. When an animal is part of a pack guess where the alpha sleeps? The highest point to watch over other pack members. So….if you have an aggressive or dominant-guarding fur-kid you may be sending them a signal that that they are the pack leader. In which case it would be wise to relocate them to a comfy bed on the floor or a crate.
The People-Health Factor
If you think about it, dogs and cats can carry in bacteria on their feet from outside, and also infections and parasites that could be transferred to their “people”. I remember a particularly disgusting night when my Maddie jumped into our bed…and of course all over us….. after she had stepped in dog poo (probably her own) after her last potty break of the evening. However, vets agree that so long as each fur-kid that you have sleeping with you is on a flea/tick/heartworm preventative, is screened for intestinal parasites at least once per year, and has regular vet visits, it’s not a big deal to have them sleeping on the bed. You may want to consider wiping their feet before they get into bed….just sayin’.
If you have questions about how healthy it is to let your pet sleep with you, ask you veterinarian. And if you are traveling and would like for one of our fantastic Paws Pet Care sitters to come over and sleep with your pets give us a call at 502-802-5052. We don’t mind at all!