Should You Let Your Pets Sleep in Bed With You?

Many individuals consider their pets to be integral members of the family, raising the question of whether snuggling up with a furry friend at night is optimal for one’s health. A recent research indicates that sharing a bed with a pet is a prevalent practice, with a 2015 study revealing that 56% of pet owners allowed their pets to sleep in their beds. A more recent 2022 survey found that 46% of respondents reported the same. Despite its popularity, experts suggest that the decision to allow a pet in the bed carries both risks and benefits, emphasizing that there is no universal answer. According to Jamie Whittenburg, DVM, veterinarian director at Senior Tail Waggers and director of Kingsgate Animal Hospital, the practice can pose health risks, such as the transmission of parasites. Conversely, there may be bonding and mental health benefits for both the pet and the owner.

Whittenburg asserts that the decision ultimately hinges on personal preference, the pet’s behavior, and any relevant health considerations. She advises each pet parent to evaluate their unique situation and make the best decision for themselves and their pets.

To better understand the potential risks associated with co-sleeping with a pet and how to minimize them, allergists and veterinarians offer valuable insights.

Potential Health Risks with Co-sleeping with Your Pet

According to the article published at, regardless of how much we love our pets, sharing a bed with them isn’t always the healthiest choice, This is especially true for people with certain pre-existing health conditions or concerns. Some health risks include

  1. Exacerbation of Allergic Symptoms

Despite millions of Americans living with pet allergies, some opt to co-sleep with their pets, leading to potential worsened allergic reactions, as outlined by Parikh. This decision may result in symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, or hives, even for individuals not typically allergic to pet dander. Pets can introduce their owners to additional allergens, such as dust mites, pollen, and mold accumulated on their fur, further intensifying allergy symptoms when exposed during sleep.

  1. Risks of Parasites and Zoonotic Diseases

Sharing a bed with a pet poses the risk of exposure to external parasites like fleas or ticks, as well as internal parasites such as worms, cautioned Whittenburg. Additionally, pets may carry zoonotic diseases like leptospirosis, salmonellosis, and bartonellosis, acquired from infected animals or contaminated environments. Whittenburg emphasized that infected pets might harbor bacteria in their mouths and fur, potentially endangering immunocompromised individuals. The likelihood of encountering such bacteria is higher with outdoor-roaming pets compared to indoor ones.

  1. Nocturnal Disturbances

Pets, engaging in activities like moving, licking, scratching, or occupying excessive space, can disrupt their owner’s sleep, as highlighted by Whittenburg. Research indicates that pet ownership is linked to poorer sleep quality, with a 2023 survey revealing that a third of pet owners frequently experience sleep disturbances due to their pets.

Benefits in Co-Sleeping with Pets

Despite the potential drawbacks of sharing a bed with pets, there are notable advantages, according to insights from Whittenburg and Parikh. This practice has been associated with heightened mental well-being, improved self-esteem, and a reduction in depression and anxiety.

Whittenburg emphasized that many pet parents derive comfort from allowing their pets to sleep in close proximity at night, fostering a sense of protection and comfort that can alleviate anxiety. The presence of pets in the bed has been linked to an enhanced feeling of safety, prompting some research to suggest that it might have either a positive or neutral impact on sleep quality.

A 2017 study specifically focusing on dogs revealed that their presence in certain sleeping positions on the bed did not appear to negatively affect the sleep quality of their owners.

Experts say co-sleeping with your pet can have some downsides, including allergies, the risk of getting parasites, and potential sleep disruptions. However, sharing a bed with your pet can provide emotional benefits, such as added security or comfort.

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