The UK is a nation of pet lovers, so it comes as little surprise that a recent report found that up to 79% of us allow our pets into the bedroom at night, which experts say is no bad thing.
ew research from Centre for Sleep Medicine at the Mayo Clinic shows that people who sleep with their cat or dog feel more safe and secure, and enjoy a more restful night’s sleep (we are big fans of the practice, although we appreciate that our partners might not always agree and can sometimes take its toll on relationships). But is this the right behaviour for your cat or dog?
In the study, researchers surveyed 150 people about their sleep habits and their pets. They discovered that over 50% of respondents shared their bedroom with a pet, and only 20% said that their furry friends woke them up during the night. 41% of respondents said that having their pets in bed actually improved their sleep by making them feel more relaxed, secure and safe. We are of the same opinion ourselves, unsurprisingly.
Is it safe?
ome medical groups think there are potential health issues you should consider when sharing a bed with your pet, including increased likelihood of illness, particularly among people who suffer from suppressed immune systems. According to research by research from The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) some vets do believe that allowing dogs to sleep on human beds is not a good thing, behaviourally speaking. Puppies who are predisposed to be aggressive may fully develop these behaviours when allowed to sleep with humans.
It's human family members that are much more likely to transmit diseases to each other during bed-sharing than pets are.
"I do like a belly rub but I'd like the pillow menu even more"
Vets and behaviourists also suggest housetraining can also be affected if beds take the place of a puppy cage, for example, and so bed-sharing should always be delayed until training is complete and social maturity is achieved. However, it's worth noting that there is very little research to confirm or deny any actual risks, and neither the NHS nor the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention offers any explicit information or guidance on pets in the bedroom.
In fact, when it comes to infectious disease transmission, doctors and vets agree there’s little evidence that healthy, well-cared for pets are detrimental to human health. It’s human family members that are much more likely to transmit diseases to each other during bed-sharing than pets are.
To reduce any potential health risks associated with sharing your bed and having other close contact with your pet, experts recommend regular veterinary care, which includes keeping up-to-date with vaccinations, treating illnesses with medications, and using flea and tick preventives.