Who do you snuggle up with at night? If your answer is “my dog,” you aren’t alone. A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association revealed that over half of all pet owners allow their dogs on the bed with them at night. Whether this is healthy or not is a hotly debated subject in some circles, so the veterinarians at Summeridge Animal Clinic have decided to weigh the pros and cons for our dear readers.
Dogs on the Bed
Sleeping with dogs appears to be an ancient practice that’s been accepted in many cultures around the world. Aboriginal Australians, for example, made it a habit to sleep next to their dogs for warmth, as well as for protection from evil spirits. Alexander the Great slept beside his greyhound, and Queen Victoria died in bed beside her beloved Pomeranian. Even the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses the Great was said to have slept in bed with his dog.
Three Dog Night
In addition to being a fairly common practice, sleeping with pets can provide some genuine benefits, such as:
- Dogs help us relax. For many pet owners, the gentle, rhythmic breathing of a peacefully sleeping dog (or cat) is a great way to end the day.
- Dogs make us feel safe. Having a dog with you on the bed at night can be deeply comforting. Besides their reassuring presence, most pets tend to sleep lightly, and remain alert to strange sounds during the night.
- Dogs keep us warm. Dogs (and cats) have slightly higher body temperatures than humans.
When to Say No to Your Dog
Having your dog on the bed isn’t always sunshine and roses. There are plenty of reasons to banish Fido from your sleeping quarters, including:
- Allergies – Individuals with pet allergies or asthma should not only keep their pets off the bed, they should also make the bedroom completely off limits to four-legged family members.
- Sleep disruptions – Studies have shown that owners who share a bed with their pet experience more sleep disruptions than those who don’t. If you’re a light sleeper or have any difficulty sleeping, allowing pets on the bed may not be the right choice for you.
- Behavior problems – Aggressive or dominant dogs and those who exhibit resource guarding behavior (snapping, snarling, etc.) should not be allowed to sleep on the bed with humans.
Making a Change
If you think it’s time to relocate your pet’s top sleeping spot, make sure you’re armed with plenty of patience and persistence. Cats tend to be territorial and may not take kindly to suddenly being blocked from the bedroom. Try finding some fun nocturnal activities for them to do, such as food puzzles, a new kitty condo, or a new scratching post.
For dogs, offering praise and treats each time they get off the bed when asked is key (just be prepared for a few sleepless nights). Fortunately, most dogs can be trained to stay off the bed with time.
Do you have any questions or concerns about your sweet pet? Please don’t hesitate to contact the veterinary staff at Summeridge Animal Clinic.