A recent survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association revealed that nearly half of all pet parents allow their pets to sleep with them at night. Clearly it’s a common practice, but is it healthy for you and your dog? Here are five great reasons to let your dog share your bed, and four reasons to make Fido keep all four on the floor.
Hop On Up!
1. Dogs help us relax.
Candace Hunziker of Kennesaw, Ga., tells pets.webmd.com that the rhythmic breathing of her Labrador next to her lulls her to sleep. “I have insomnia, my whole family does, and we all sleep with dogs. She puts me to sleep better than an Ambien.”
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2. Dogs are warm.
There’s a reason it feels extra terrific to snuggle up to a dog on a cold night: our pets’ body temperatures are three to six degrees higher than our own. They’re highly efficient, non-electric blankets.
3. Dogs make us feel safe.
“There are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet. And some people might feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed,” Lisa Shives, M.D., medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, tells pets.webmd.com.
4. They’re good for our brain chemistry.
Related to feelings of safety and calm, touching pets raises levels of oxytocin in our bodies. Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle chemical,” increases our feelings of relaxation, trust, and psychological stability.
5. It makes dogs happy.
And let’s face it, we’re suckers for giving them what they want. UK author Julia Stephenson explains, “My Greek collie lived in a small concrete space by himself until I rescued him, and had no experience of living in a loving home, but he stays close on our walks and has never run off. I believe that allowing him to sleep on the bed has contributed to him feeling loved and secure.”
6. Dogs can disturb your sleep.
The Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center completed a study in which about half the patients had a pet — and 53% of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way nightly. Sleep deprivation, no matter the cause, can lead to decreased alertness, memory impairment, and other physical and mental health issues.
7. Pets in bed can aggravate allergies and asthma.
The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America recommends that people with allergies keep pets out of the bedroom entirely and get a HEPA air filter for the bedroom at the very least, and the entire home if possible.
8. Dogs can come between you and your partner.
Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, authors of “Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage,” caution that pets should not be permitted to physically come between a couple at night. For humans, “The snuggling and the holding and the touching is critical. It’s one of the seven secrets of a successful marriage.”
9. Sleeping in bed may complicate dominance or aggression issues in some dogs.
Cesar Milan encourages pet parents not to let dogs jump into bed whenever they wish, but to invite them up explicitly. “Then choose the portion of the bed where the dog sleeps,” he explains. Ideally, this method will discourage dominance and territoriality problems.
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