Sleeping with Your Pet – Worth It?

By Irene Hartmann

Sharing a bed with your pet is one of life’s simplest pleasures. Studies have shown that petting your dog can increase your oxytocin levels—the hormone that induces happiness, reduces stress, and peaks five hours into — by a full 20 percent. According to Science Daily, 22 percent of pet owners allow their furry friends to share a bed with them.

But there are drawbacks to sharing your bed with your pet. According to a 2014 Mayo Clinic study, 10 percent of animal owners complain that their pets disturb their sleep. A Science Daily poll found that 21 percent of dog owners and 7 percent of cat owners complained that their pets snored. And according to a DePauw University study, the risk of sharing a bed with a dog increases the likelihood of the owner getting bitten. The researchers also found that allowing a pet to share a bed with its owner may increase attachment. Sounds great, right? Except that sleeping with your pet may increase the separation anxiety your pet experiences the next morning when you have to go to work. Separation anxiety can lead to destructive behavior, such as damaging property or defecating inside.

Then there’s the fact that animal sleep patterns don’t necessarily line up with those of their owners. According to Doggies.com, dogs can sleep anywhere from twelve hours a day to eighteen. While that might sound nice, dogs tend to sleep while their owners are out of the house. And according to PetMD, “cats are crepuscular – which means that they are most active during the twilight hours of dusk or dawn.” So when your cat starts knocking things off of your nightstand at 5am, it isn’t trying to ruin your day – he or she is just starting theirs.

The most serious risk of sleeping with your pet is the flu, though not for the owner—for the pet! In 2009 (the peak of H1N1/Swine Flu), seven cats in the United States tested positive for H1N1. The American Veterinary Medical Association noted that nearly all of these cats had been exposed to the virus by ill owners. According to a CDC study, a 1974 outbreak of the Bubonic Plague was linked to a man who shared his bed with a flea-infested cat!

But then again, despite all the risks, there’s that sweet Oxytocin rush of falling asleep while stroking your best friend. Is it worth the trade off? You be the judge.


Tags:  Sleep





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