Should I Let My Dog Sleep on My Bed? Settling the Great Debate

Pet Health

Tammy George

Young woman sleeping with her dog in bed with her.

Dog owners fall into two camps - those that wouldn’t dream of going to bed without their pooch and those that couldn’t think of anything worse! It can be a heated debate with plenty of pros and cons for both sides, but there are a few things to consider first.

The Size of the Dog & Available Space

It’s not physically possible for some pets to share their owner’s bed. If you have two adults in a double or queen bed, there’s not much room left, particularly if your dog is average-to-large in size. A teen in a single bed might not leave enough room for your bigger than average dog, but small dogs may be able to find a space. 

You Risk Having an Interrupted Sleep

Many dogs like to move around at night. They might need to go out of the room for a toilet break, so unless there is a doggie door, you’ll need to get up and let them out. Some dogs decide they’re no longer comfy on the bed so they’ll jump off and settle down in another part of the house, possibly waking you from a deep slumber. If you’re a light sleeper or struggle to get back to sleep, having the dog in the bed can cause lost sleep. You may wake up tired and will be more likely to have a bad day.

Dogs on average spend 50% of a 24-hour period asleep. So, if they have been left at home for eight or nine hours while their master is at work without anything to keep them entertained, they may have already slept a large part of their quota during the day so they’re not tired when you are! It’s likely that they will be more active at night and disturb your sleep.

A mum and her baby co-sleeping together with their dog.

Pros of Co-Sleeping With Your Dog

If the thought of letting your dog sleep on your bed is not appealing to you, there are a number of benefits that should be taken into account before you make your final decision.

#1 Bonding Time

Most people have a close bond to their dog and want to spend as much time with them as possible. If you have been at work all day, the time you have to spend with your dog is limited but if you’re co-sleeping with them, there’s more time to enjoy each other’s company while you both slumber.

#2 Security Blanket

Some people are nervous that an intruder might break into their house while they sleep. Having their dog with them acts as reassurance that their dog will protect them should there be an intruder. Feeling safe with their dog by their side may allow them to fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly.

#3 Increases Happiness

Dogs make us happy. For some people, having their dog in the bed makes them feel content. Dog ownership is often considered to reduce depressive symptoms in humans. Dogs can help us relax and increase the flow of oxytocin, known as the love chemical, to our brains. With mental health a major concern for many people, having a dog by their side can reduce their symptoms.

A man laughing and playing with his dog to help relieve his symptoms of depression.

#4 Feeling Less Lonely

For people who live alone, evenings and bedtimes can be the loneliest times. Having a pet can provide much needed companionship, and co-sleeping with a dog can make going to bed a little less lonely, again helping to boost mental health. 

#5 Less Potential for Allergies Later in Life

Research has shown that children who live and spend time in close contact with their pet may develop fewer allergies later in life. A pet that is seldom in the house doesn’t provide the same level of protection that you get from having a pet that is in close contact. It’s thought that pets carry microbes that stimulate the human immune system to protect us from asthma, hay fever and eczema.

#6 Warmth

No need for an electric blanket in winter if you sleep with your dog. A large dog can generate considerable heat that will help keep the bed and room warm.

Cons of Co-Sleeping With Your Dog

With a number of pros to weigh up comes a number of cons to consider too. From behavioural concerns to cleanliness and hygiene, there are also a number of things that you may believe outweigh the pros of allowing your dog to sleep on your bed.

#1 Potential Bite

Your dog might not be a biter during the day, but it’s hard to know how your dog will react if they are suddenly woken. Some dogs will bite instinctively in self defence if startled while asleep. If you roll or knock your dog while you’re both asleep, it can be enough to cause them to bite.

#2 Knowing Their Place in the House

If your dog has some aggressive or guarding tendencies, allowing them to hop onto your bed may not be the best option. Most dogs understand their place in the family is below the humans because we stand well above them. If they’re allowed on the bed, they’re at the same level as us and can feel they’ve moved higher in the pecking order.

A dog receiving a bath before sleeping in his owner’s bed.

#3 Cleanliness

Even the cleanest dog sheds hair and dander, which ends up on the doona or sheets. Pet dander can impact people with allergies, particularly if they are spending a long period with the dog in close proximity. Even if you don’t suffer from adverse reactions to the fur and dander, you might find you need to wash your sheets and doona more regularly than you otherwise would. If your dog spends part of the day outside, they can bring in all kinds of dirt or even pesticides on their coat and feet.

#4 Bathing Your Dog More Often

Dogs who spend time on their owner’s bed may need bathing more often than dogs that sleep elsewhere. Your fur baby’s smelly coat may be more obvious to you when you’re in your bedroom than in other parts of the house.

#5 Passing on a Disease

Animals carry different diseases and viruses to humans. While you won’t pass on your cold or flu to your pet dog, it is rare but possible for your dog to make you sick. Dogs can carry parasites and viruses that may not make them sick but can be passed on to their owner, making them very sick.

A dog receiving a vaccine from the vet to avoid passing on diseases while it co-sleeps with its owner in bed.

One of these diseases is known as a zoonotic disease, which occurs when a dog licks their owner’s face or an open wound. Some of the diseases that dogs can pass on to humans include rabies, salmonella, noroviruses, and campylobacter, to name a few. The people most at risk of these diseases are young children and immunocompromised people. Only feeding your dog cooked meat instead of raw can reduce the risk of salmonella and campylobacter.

If you have a sore, make sure you cover it before bed so your dog isn’t tempted to ‘make it better’ with a few licks. It’s best to discourage your dog from licking your face at all times. Make sure your dog is kept up to date with his vaccines and worming tablets to reduce the risk.

Should I Let My Dog Sleep on My Bed?

There are plenty of pros and cons to consider as to whether or not you should let your dog sleep on your bed. With that in mind, it’s important that you consider what’s important to you and what you would rather - every person and situation is different. It’s all down to personal preference, you’re not right or wrong either way.

If you start allowing your dog on the bed and then change your mind, it can take some time for the dog to comply and stay on the floor or out of the bedroom, so think carefully if this is the right habit for you now and in the future.

If having the dog on your bed is out of the question but you want to enjoy some of the benefits that come with co-sleeping, try allowing your dog to sleep in your room, but on the floor in their own bed. You might find this arrangement suits you both - you’re still very close to each other while you sleep in your own space.

Whether you let your dog sleep on your bed or not, you can still ensure they get the VIP (very important pet) treatment. With two different levels of cover, HIF's pet insurance helps provide protection against specified accidental injuries, cover of selected routine care treatments, emergency boarding for your pet, and more! Take a look at your options with HIF Pet today.

Tammy George

Please note: Tammy's blog is general advice only. For further information on this topic please consult your healthcare professional.

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