If you love to snuggle with your pooch during the night, you're not alone: 55 percent of dog owners sleep with their pooch on top of their bed and another 50 percent allow him between the sheets, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases. Whether it's bad or good is up entirely up to you and your pooch -- no two situations are similar. There will be pros and cons on either side, you'll just have to weigh them out and ask yourself which eventually comes out on top. One pro is obvious -- it feels awesome to snuggle with your beloved pooch! Some possible cons, however, may not be quite so obvious. Below are a few to consider.
Sleeping with Fido might cause you to lose precious shut eye. Instead of sleeping soundly, some dogs growl, snore, playfully nip, frequently shift positions, bark at minor noises or even need to be taken out for a walk during the night. A survey of 300 patients who suffer from sleep disorders concluded that 41 percent of sleep disruptions were the result of allowing pets in their beds, and another 58 percent claimed their sleep is disrupted even if the pet is only in the bedroom, according to ABC News.
Spending the night with your pooch in such close proximity can trigger allergies in susceptible individuals. Allergies aren't caused by your dog's fur, but proteins in his urine, saliva and flakes of skin, or dander. Dander is as small and light as dust particles, making it easily inhaled. It also clings to sheets, pillows and blankets. Allergy symptoms can include congestion, sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes or asthma. If you're allergic to dogs, even a loving lick from Fido while you're sleeping can cause skin eruptions from the allergens in his saliva, such as rashes and hives.
Risk of Disease
An affectionate kiss from Fido during the night can lead to possible infections and disease. Meningitis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and plague have been transmitted to humans through dog licks, kisses and saliva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases. MRSA was contracted by a married couple after their pup repeatedly licked their faces while sleeping with him in their bed. Sleeping with a dog can transfer fleas that increase the risk for contracting human plague, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dogs often carry parasites, such as roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms and hookworms. Although they're usually transmitted by the dog's stool, it's possible for you to ingest them through a kiss or lick. Or, you might come into contact with fecal matter or worm eggs on Fido's coat while snuggling with him in bed. Although only tapeworm can survive in the human intestine, other worms can travel to your eyes, skin and other organs, according to Harvard Medical School. The resulting infections can lead to blindness, heart and lung problems, encephalitis or death.
Create a separate area in your bedroom for your pup to sleep in. A simple doggy bed can be constructed out of a soft blanket that's placed near your bed. If you're unable to resist sleeping with him, make sure he remains on top of your bed. However, If you suffer from allergies, it's best not to allow him into your bedroom at all. Take your dog to a veterinarian for regular check-ups and to be dewormed, if necessary. Examine your pooch for fleas and ticks on a regular basis.
By Liza Blau
Emerging Infectious Diseases: Zoonoses in the Bedroom
ABC NEWS: Pets Can Deprive Owners of Sleep
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Dog-Associated Risk Factors for Human Plague
Harvard Medical School: Simple Steps for Avoiding Infections From Dogs and Cats
MayoClinic.com: Pet Allergy
ABC News: The Perils of Pet Intimacy
Boston.com: Sleep With Your Pet? You Could be Sharing Germs
Daily Mail: Don't Sleep With Your Pet (You May Catch Something)
CBS Chicago: Sleeping With Your Pets Can Be Unhealthy, Study Says
About the Author
Liza Blau received a B.A. in English from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in fiction anthologies from Penguin Press, W.W. Norton, NYU Press and others. After healing her own life-threatening asthma by switching to a whole, natural foods diet, she founded the NYC Asthma Wellness Center. Blau counsels individuals on healing their own asthma and allergies with dietary and lifestyle changes.