It’s an age-old question for new pet owners: is sleeping with pets healthy or harmful? And is there a difference when it comes to cats and dogs? We’ve broken down a few of the important things to consider when deciding what’s best for your household, and have some pet sleep tips to make sure everyone in the family gets a good night’s rest.
Do you suffer from allergies? If the answer is yes, it’s likely that sleeping with your pet (or allowing them anywhere in the bedroom, for that matter) is going to exacerbate the problem. Allergists recommend those with severe allergies keep pets out of the bedroom completely, at least at nighttime. Those with mild allergies may find that over-the-counter allergy medicine or allergy shots allow them to sleep comfortably with their cat or dog in the room.
Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Many insomniacs report being awakened by typical canine behaviors, like licking or scratching. If this is the case, giving Fido the boot may be your best option to ensure a restful slumber. The same goes for pets of the feline variety; if her scratching disturbs your sleep on a regular basis, it’s best to keep your cat out of the bedroom.
Aside from the above, if you’re in overall good health, most doctors agree there are no health risks associated with sleeping with your cat or dog. It’s a matter of personal preference. If you’d like your pet nearby, but don’t want him making your bed his own, consider getting your four-legged friend his own small bed alongside yours. That way he’s comfy and close by, without taking up an uncomfortable amount of your sleeping space.
Here’s the catch—once you make the decision to allow your pet to sleep with you, it’s best to stick to it. If you switch back and forth, allowing him in bed some nights but not others, he may act out with destructive behavior like chewing furniture or urinating indoors. This is particularly true for cats, who are very territorial. If you don’t want your cat sleeping with you, make it clear from the start that the bedroom is off-limits at night—no exceptions!
Since cats are nocturnal, it may be helpful to have certain toys you only give your cat when you’re about to go to sleep. Foraging toys filled with a treat are great for bedtime. This not only gives her something to do, it also helps build a routine that she will come to see as normal.
If you do decide to sleep with your cat or dog, that’s great. Many pet owners report feelings of comfort and safety when joined in bed by their pet. But if co-sleeping isn’t for you, there’s nothing wrong with that either. Deciding whether to sleep with your pet should be a personal choice based on what works best for your family.