By Sara B. Hansen
I recently saw a story with an alarming headline that warned dog owners could be putting their health at risk if they sleep with dogs. It made me wonder how many owners sleep with their dogs, so we asked.
And the results were amazing. According to a DogsBestLife.com poll, 90 percent of our respondents snuggle up at night with their pups.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has not made a formal recommendation about whether pets should sleep with their owners. But according to some experts, sleeping with your dog can harm both your health and your dog’s health.
A 2006 report from the National Academy of Sciences estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep abnormalities. Poor sleep can increase risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and alcohol use.
A study presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies revealed results of a survey of 298 adults about sleep quality and sleeping with pets. Of the 148 pet owners who responded, more than half said they sleep with a pet. Nearly 30 percent of the pet owners reported that they wake up at least once per night and 5 percent said they had difficulty going back to sleep after a pet woke them up.
And sleeping with a pet can easily interrupt your slumber. They can snore, whimper, hog the blankets or take up all the space and occasionally wake you up so you can let them go outside to go potty.
Sleeping with a human can also disrupt your dog and make it harder for her to settle down. And some dogs, like humans, can suffer from insomnia.
To help make sure your dog is able to sleep all night, make sure he gets plenty of exercise, take him outside for a late night potty break and if you have a wanderer, consider using your dog’s crate to keep him confined at night.
Believe it or not, sleeping with your dog also can increase your dog’s anxiety issues. If you have a dog that’s nervous about being away from you, putting her on your bed at night could potentially increase the problem because it just reinforces her belief that she needs to be with you all the time.
I’ve slept with and without pets.
For more than a dozen years, I slept with two dogs. The only times they really bothered me was when there was a thunderstorm and Finley, a Beagle-Cocker Spaniel mix, would decide the safest spot was to climb on my head.
When I went through an intense month of insomnia that led to rare (and potentially dangerous) adult-onset sleepwalking, Browning, my Beagle-Lab mix, switched from sleeping curled against my side, to anchoring his 35-pound frame across my legs. My sweet boy was doing his best to keep me safely in bed.
I loved sleeping with them and couldn’t imagine not having them in the bedroom.And if they were still alive, they likely would still snooze with me.
Now, Sydney, my sweet Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix, is a great nap partner. She’ll snuggle in and doesn’t budge. I love to take naps with her.
But the handful of times I’ve tried letting her sleep with me at night have been a disaster. She squirms. She kicks her legs. She expands until her 27-pound frame is sprawled across the queen-size bed and I’m left clinging to the edge. A couple of times, she’s even abandoned me and gone back to her own bed. Long story short, we’re both happier when Sydney sleeps in her crate.
So consider what the experts say, but in the end, decide what sleeping arrangements work best for you and your dog.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She decided to create her own dream job by launching Dog’s Best Life. She grew up with family dogs and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She currently shares her heart and home with Sydney, an Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix. You can reach Sara @ [email protected].