My 60 pound shepherd-mix, Molly, is a bonafide bed hog. Somehow in the night, she manages to stretch her body from one end of my queen size bed to the other, leaving me teetering on the edge – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. While I understand some’s aversion to sharing the covers with a hairy, snoring dog, until I read this article from Sandy Eckstein at WebMD, it hadn’t occurred to me that there is a health concern among many dog owners that share the bed with a dog too.
Do you share your bed with your dog?
Sleeping with pets isn’t unusual in this country. According to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The survey found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners.
The survey also found that 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, and another 13% of cats sleep with children.
Is It Healthy to Sleep with Pets?
So is it healthy to have your dog sleeping in your bed? Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Louisville, Ky., says people who suffer from pet allergies or asthma should not sleep with their dog or cat or even allow them in the bedroom.
“Use a HEPA filter and keep them out of the bedroom to give your nose a few hours a day to recover,” Damin says.
But Damin says most pet lovers won’t kick Fido out of bed, even if they discover their pets are causing allergy problems. For those people he recommends allergy shots to build up a tolerance to the pet dander that causes allergic reactions.
“But if you’re not allergic, there’s really no big issue with having a dog in the bed,” says Damin, who for years shared his bed with his miniature dachshund. “It’s fine as long as it doesn’t disturb your sleep.”
Snoring, Kicking, Cover-Hogging Pets
Which brings up another problem with sharing the bed with a pet — they can disturb your sleep. A study released by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center found that about half the patients in the study had a dog or cat, and 53% of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way nightly.
“I’ve had patients that I’ve spent visit after visit going over their insomnia problems, trying to figure out what’s happening, then I find out they have a dog that’s scratching all night,” says Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, a sleep center outside Chicago, Shives recommends that people who have difficulty sleeping consider keeping pets out of the bedroom.
Can Pets Help Sleep?
But for people with no problem falling or staying asleep, Shives says it’s fine to allow a dog or cat in the bed.
“There are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet,” says Shives, who sleeps with her 45-pound dog. “And some people might feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed.”
Candace Hunziker of Kennesaw, Ga, says that’s exactly why she sleeps with her Labrador retriever mix, P.
“She sleeps against me and she has very rhythmic breathing and it just puts me out,” Hunziker says. “I have insomnia, my whole family does, and we all sleep with dogs. She puts me to sleep better than an Ambien.”
Read the full article at WebMD here. Although I tend to wake up covered in dog hair in the mornings, and have to wash my sheets more often than the average person, I find it difficult to sleep without my dog by my side. I always leave my door open so she can get to her water dish if she needs to, or patrol the neighborhood from the front window (and let me know if a squirrel happens to walk past!) as she’s done for the past 11 years, with no issues whatsoever. So, tell us – do you share your bed with your dog? Share your stories (or concerns) below!