People sleep with their pets at night for many reasons – they can provide comfort, ease anxiety and give extra warmth throughout the night. Previous advice has warned of the risks of sleeping with your dog, stating poor behavior in your dog and possible illness for you and your pet, as the two main reasons to ban this practice in your home. However, recent research by the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found there were particular benefits to allowing your dog on the bed for nighttime snuggles. So, should you be sleeping with your dog at night?
Below we take a look at the pros and cons of letting your dog sleep with you.
Definite benefits of co-sleeping with your dog
People have been sleeping with their dogs for millennia. One example is the Aboriginal Australians who slept with their dogs or dingoes (an Australian canine) for warmth and protection from evil spirits. While we may be less concerned with evil spirits these days, dogs still provide night time comfort for their humans.
Sleeping with your dog at night increases the amount of time you get to spend with them each day. If you’re away from your dog throughout the day working, maximizing the time you spend with them at night can strengthen the bond you share.
Dogs are lighter sleepers than their human friends and remain alert to sounds even in slumber. Knowing that you have their ears to alert you to night time disturbances can provide additional comfort and help you to relax and enjoy a deeper sleep.
The companionship and unconditional love dogs give to their owners is one of the many benefits of pet ownership. Positive human-animal interaction (such as co-sleeping) has been proven to reduce stress, fear and anxiety for people and increase the brain’s oxytocin levels. Dogs are perfect bed warmers making them ideal companions for colder nights. As long as you and your canine friend are healthy and don’t disturb each other’s sleep, allowing them on your bed, or at least in your room, is a perfectly healthy and beneficial thing to do.
It’s not just about you either; dogs generally enjoy sharing their owner’s beds. As they use their sense of smell to interpret the world around them, being close to objects that smell like their human – or their actual human – is comforting and pleasing.
The drawbacks of having your dog sleep with you.
While there are definite benefits of sleeping with your dog, there can also be a downside. Pet hair, night time accidents, disrupted sleep and difficulty reaching the bed for smaller or older animals are all legitimate concerns when deciding if you should allow your canine pal to sleep with you.
If you are prone to allergies, allowing your dog to sleep with you may trigger health problems. If this is the case, consider having them sleep in their own bed, away from your sleeping space. Just like us, dogs dream, snore and move in their sleep. Light sleepers may find that having their dog on the bed at night disturbs their sleep. If their movement at night affects your sleep quality, try moving them onto their own bed in your room so they can still be close.
Even the cleanest and best-trained dogs can have accidents. Dog pee on your bed smells and while not toxic, can stick around a long time if not cleaned properly. Older dogs can be more prone to night time incontinence and younger dogs may still be in ‘potty-training’. If your dog is likely to pee in their sleep and you’d rather not have to regularly clean it from your mattress, letting them sleep with you should be out.
Finally, smaller and older dogs may find it difficult to reach your bed. You’ll need to consider their safety at night if sleeping with them as they could damage joints, bones, or muscles if they fall.
There are many benefits to sleeping with your dog and most pet owners would agree that these far outweigh any drawbacks that may be experienced. If you enjoy sleeping with your dog, or would like to give it a try, the chances are your dog will love it too and there is no real reason not to.
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