Everyone has a relatively different routine before they go to bed. But typically, those individual variations are built around one general pattern. A person typically turns the TV off, brushes their teeth, puts on pajamas, sets an alarm for the morning, gets into bed, calls their dog up onto the bed, and then turns out the lights.
But there’s something wrong with this pattern. While we may feel like both our pets and ourselves are more comfortable when we sleep in the same bed, it’s actually dangerous and unhealthy to do so.
Sharing a bed with your dog or cat seems innocent enough. They keep us safe and warm and we feel much less guilty when they’re not scrunched up on their tiny, dirty bed pads. However, sharing a bed with an animal does more harm than good.
Being that close to your pet for such an extended amount of time can actually increase a person’s chances of contracting an illness or an infection.
One veterinary health expert, Dr. Jane Heller, explains that pets may seem clean, but they’re not sterile. Dr. Heller shares, “…there is always some chance of bacterial or parasitic transfer from companion animals to humans.”
This is true anytime of any day, whether you’re in bed or not. However, that eight hours of sleep at night creates the opportune environment for that bacterial or parasitic transfer simply because you’re so physically close to your pet for so long.
A pet may be carrying any number of parasites or bacteria without his owner even realizing it. Dogs, for example, can carry ear mites, tapeworms, heartworm, and hepatitis – all of which are likely to go unnoticed for quite some time. Fleas and ticks are also more easily spread from animal to human if both are sharing a bed at night.
It helps to give your pets regular baths and keep them groomed. However, even doing those two things won’t cancel out the health risks of sleeping in the same bed with your pet.
One study published in an issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases revealed examples of pet owners who actually developed diseases after sleeping in the same beds as their pets. The study, “Zoonoses in the Bedroom,” shared one story of a nine-year-old boy from Arizona who had contracted plague after sleeping with his flea-ridden cat.
The study’s authors explain that while it may be rare to develop such dangerous diseases from our pets, rare doesn’t exactly matter to the people who do end up contracting illnesses. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case.
On top of that, illnesses and infections aren’t the only reasons people shouldn’t sleep with their pets. Pets can’t actually sleep through the night in the same way humans can. So, they move around, wake up their owners, and call for attention, causing their human owners to get much less sleep than they otherwise would if they weren’t sharing a bed with an animal.
That may seem like just a simple annoyance, but getting much less then the recommended amount of sleep can actually have detrimental health effects on a person in both the short-term and the long-term.
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but when it comes to bed time, it’s a much better option for owners to just let their pets sleep on actual pet beds.