Does man’s best friend make for a good bed mate? Is Fido in bed with you and your partner every night (with his head on the pillow!), and is it healthy?
Well, Dr. Google came up with conflicting results. Some sites argue that it’s okay, while others advise against it. Here’s the kicker though – the results are mostly from dog bloggers – not exactly a group of people you can trust with your health, right?
Surveys have shown that 60% of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their bed with them. Co-sleeping increases feelings of companionship and comfort. Your dog will ease anxiety and provide a feeling of safety. And, let’s face it, they are perfect bedwarmers; keeping you toasty on a cold night! Some even agree that the rhythmic breathing of a pet can be very conducive to sleep, providing everyone sleeps well.
So, what’s a pet lover to do… yaj or nay on co-sleeping? Dr Jack Gilbert, director of the Microbiome Centre at the University of Chicago, a.k.a the expert on all things germ related, states that sharing a bed with your pet is unhealthy – but only in some cases.
First of all, both pet and person need to be in good health. Gilbert reckons that people who suffer from allergies or asthma, or have trouble sleeping, should not sleep with their pets or even allow them in the bedroom. Your immune system is primed to overreact to the allergens and your bed becomes an allergen epicentre, leading to high levels of harmful inflammation. Good health for a dog means no fleas, ticks or other parasites, no illnesses, up-to-date vaccinations and regular check-ups.
According to researchers at the University of Colorado, pets raise the bacteria count in your house, but not all of that bacteria is bad. In fact, exposure to many types of bacteria can help bolster your immune system, which can help you fend off disease. Studies found that kids who grew up around farm animals had lower rates of autoimmune diseases.
The biggest issue however, is how both you and your partner feel about pets in the bed. If one person is fine with it, but the other isn’t, you have a problem. You absolutely have to talk about it to make sure that both of you are comfortable with the situation. Thing is, it’s so important that pets don’t physically come between a couple at night – snuggling and touching are the cornerstones of a good relationship.
So yes, experts recommend not allowing a dog to sleep between a couple. Not only does this increase the distance between the couple, but it can cause behavioural issues for the dog, allowing them to feel more confident in getting to sleep wherever they want, causing dominance or aggression issues in some dogs. Yep, human and canine partners might not get along; Napoleon was bitten by Josephine’s pug, Fortune, on their wedding night!
Many dog owners remain split on the decision whether to allow fluffy under the covers or not. Studies show both risks and benefits to sleeping with your pet; it’s clearly a very personal choice.
Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Hey, whatever works for you…
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.