Should you let your dog or cat sleep on your bed?
Here in the UK, we love our pets – cats and dogs in particular.
According to data from the RSPCA, there are currently around nine million dogs and eight million cats in the UK. And it’s estimated that in 2018, 12 million households owned at least one pet.
It’s fair to say we’re smitten with our four-legged friends.
We have social media accounts for our pets, we treat them to our leftover food, we buy them luxury collars and accessories, and we even take them to the beauty parlour from time to time.
There’s no limit to how much we spoil our pets – and that includes making sure they get a good night’s sleep…
Sleeping with your pet on your bed
For some people, making sure their pet is well rested might mean investing in a luxury, velvet-lined dog or cat bed. But that could be pricey.
However, there is a cheaper alternative: letting your four-legged friend snuggle up in bed with you for the night.
According to a survey carried out in November, millions of pet owners in the UK let their dogs and cats share their bed.
More than a quarter of those questioned said lying next to their cat or dog helped them feel less alone, 37% like the warmth from their pets’ bodies, and 30% said it made them feel safer. Clearly, this is a decision that can benefit both pet and owner.
The poll also revealed that while some pets choose to sleep in the bend of their owner’s leg, the majority prefer to settle at the foot of the bed close to their owner’s feet.
Why pets are good to have around – even in your bed
It’s widely agreed that having a pet is good for your health.
Not only does it give you an emotional boost (that warm welcome when you walk through the front door), it can also encourage you to be healthier – especially if you are going out for walkies a few times a day.
Having a pet has also been linked to lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol levels and decreased feelings of loneliness.
But back to the idea that owning a cat or dog can be good for your sleep. Maybe you won’t stay out for ‘just one more drink’ if you know Polly the Poodle or Terence the Tabby are waiting for you at home.
According to the survey, the majority of those questioned even admitted that their pet was easier to share a bed with than their human partner!
But those feelings of security can work both ways. Pets like sleeping with their owners because they feel safe and secure when they are near you – a feeling that applies to both day and night.
The advantages of sleeping with your pet
Here are some of the top reasons people love to share a bed with their pet.
1 They make the bed feel extra cosy
Snuggling up next to a dog or a cat can feel really toasty for their human owners.
Animals are warmer blooded than we are, so it can feel especially nice to curl up next to a warm, furry body on a cold winter’s night. Who needs a hot water bottle, when you’ve got a dog or cat?
2 Pets can help you relax
Pets help relieve stress. Hanging out with our furry friends helps us feel instantly more relaxed and calm.
That’s because stroking your pet releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of love and wellbeing – potentially perfect for a good night’s sleep.
3 You feel safer
Cats and dogs have a more acute sense of hearing that humans so will hear strange noises and alert you to them.
This can be especially comforting for people who live alone or those who do not feel secure at night.
4 It makes mornings a whole lot easier
Hearing the alarm go off first thing in the morning and getting yourself out of bed can be a struggle.
But if you hear your alarm go off and are immediately greeted by your pet’s face, things can seem a little more manageable.
Plus, if you have a dog or cat you can probably do away with the noisy alarm and wake up to the sound of barking or purring.
5 You can enjoy a stronger owner-pet bond
Creating a strong bond between you and your pet is one of the most important parts of being a pet parent.
A great way to nurture that bond and take it to the next level is letting them share your bed.
Your pet will love the chance to spend more time with you – and will let you know by showering you with even more love and affection!
The downside of sleeping with your pet
Unfortunately, for all the good things about sleeping with your pet, there are a few not-so-good things to consider, too.
Here are a few points to bear in mind before inviting your pet to snuggle in with you at night.
1 It might disturb your sleep
Dogs and cats tend to be fidgety. When sleeping, dogs in particular are prone to annoying behaviours ranging from snoring to twitching.
Dogs and cats can wake in the middle of the night for a good old scratch, stretch, or to dig down into the covers to get comfier.
You may also wake to find them acting out their dreams (watching your hound ‘running’ in their sleep may be funny the first time, but that’ll soon wear off after a few days!).
Your pet may also decide to get up in the middle of the night to patrol the house or get a drink of water.
Let’s not forget that cats are naturally nocturnal creatures – they like to get up to all sorts in the wee hours.
2 Pets can hog the covers
Even the smallest of pets have the ability to weigh down your duvet so it’s virtually impossible to pull it tighter around you.
A sleeping pet can turn into a dead weight and you may find that no end of yanking and tugging of the covers will solve your cover-hogging issues.
3 You might disturb their sleep
As discussed above, dogs and cats tend to choose areas on the bed that you’d prefer to stretch out on.
This can cause a problem for them if you turn over in the night and accidentally kick them, or for you if you roll over only to find your feline or canine friend in the spot where you were planning to get comfy.
4 Your sheets may become furrier
All animals shed their fur – some at a faster rate than others.
If you have a particularly fluffy pet (great in lots of ways apart from in bed), you might not fancy waking up with a mouthful of fur every morning or having to de-fluff the sheets every day.
5 It may not be great for your relationship
According to a study by pet food brand Webbox, a third of Brits admit that their pet sleeping in the bed has stopped them being intimate with their partner.
In addition, some dogs can become jealous and take it upon themselves to ‘guard’ one partner from the other.
If either your dog or partner shows signs of being jealous, it’s time to stop your pet’s bedtime privileges.
6 Waking up in a pool of drool
This one is a warning to dog owners – if your pooch is prone to drooling while standing up, the same is going to be true when it’s lying down.
The last thing anyone wants is to wake up to wet patches of doggy drool on their sheets or pillow. Being woken by bad dog breath is one to avoid, too!
7 Your pooch may get stuck!
Again, this one applies to dog owners rather than cat owners and concerns the height of your bed versus the size of your furball.
If you have a small dog that can’t get up onto the bed without some help, it’s probably not a great idea to invite them up.
If you have to pick them up to put them on the bed, they will probably encounter problems when it comes to getting back down again.
If you’re keen for your miniature mongrel to sleep in the same bed as you, you could always get a bench at the bottom of the bed which they can use to climb up and down.
8 It could spell disaster for your allergies
If you’re mildly allergic to your pet it might not be much of an issue day to day.
However, if you let your dog or cat into your bedroom – let alone your bed – you might find your life suddenly becomes a bit sneezier.
Remember: there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat.
9 They could leave a few nasty surprises
Your dog or cat will probably love to explore the great outdoors.
Which is great, but it also means they have a tendency of picking up ticks, fleas and even ringworm. These are three things you really don’t want between your bed sheets.
10 They could be hard to evict
Some pets can be really stubborn (and yes, we are mainly referring to cats here). All pets thrive on habit, but cats are not trained to sit or roll over in the way dogs are.
As a result, you may find that turfing your moggy off the bed turns into a battle you don’t need at 8am when you have a bus to catch.
It’s worth noting that once you make room in your bed for your furry friend, it can be hard to break the cycle.
It’s all down to personal choice
You’ve probably noticed that there are twice as many disadvantages as advantages in the lists above.
That’s not to say that letting your pet sleep in the same bed as you is a bad idea, it just means it’s a decision you have to make for yourself and your pet.
There are no hard-and-fast rules about whether to let your pet share your bed with you. It all comes down to two factors: whether you want them in the bed with you and whether they are mature enough to handle it.
The former is down to whether or not you are comfortable with the idea.
The latter can be decided based on whether they can sleep through the night without needing a toilet break and whether they can remain in their own bed or crate without whining or crying to be let out.
And don’t forget the practical side of things: if your pet is so tiny you might accidentally harm them or so huge they might accidentally harm you, maybe stay in separate beds for now.
If you’re still not decided, let’s go back to the research.
It’s generally agreed that sleeping with a pet on your bed compromises the quality of sleep. However, it may be OK as long as you don’t snuggle up too close.
Research published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings revealed that having them in the same room isn’t a problem.
According to the research, people who sleep with dogs in their bedrooms (not in their bed) maintained 83% sleep efficiency (80% is considered satisfactory).
But even when pets slept in the same bed as their owner, the research found they still achieved a sleep efficiency of around 80%.
It all comes down to how much you value your sleep and how well you can deal with the day if you’ve not had enough!
We all want to make sure our pet is happy. That may or may not mean sharing a bed with them, but it will definitely mean getting the right pet insurance policy.
At Go Get It, we can help you find the level of pet insurance cover you need. Our pet insurance comparison provides options for different levels of cover for most breeds of dog and cat and means you are not faced with unexpected vet bills.
Find out more about our pet insurance comparison service today.