Woman sleeping in bed with her dog

Woman sleeping with basset hound (© Daniel Rodriguez - stock.adobe.com)

In many pet homes, the family dog is the king or queen of the castle. Some owners spoil their furry friend to no end — and that can include letting pets sleep in the same bed as them. From a strictly medical standpoint, however, is this really a good idea?

I looked all over for the pros and cons of letting your dog sleep in bed with you. Unfortunately for many dog owners, the cons win – the pros aren’t even close. I could not find a single veterinarian who was in favor of letting dogs on the bed. Simply put, the risks outweigh the questionable benefits. So, let’s look at them — both the good and the bad:

The pros

These are the claims that some people make about why it’s good for you to sleep with your dog:

  • It creates a comforting routine, preventing your dog from feeling scared and lonely. The same can apply to you.
  • Being a pet parent has many physical and mental health benefits, so sleeping with your dog increases the amount of time you spend together, potentially increasing associated health benefits.
  • It provides a calm, soothing presence at bedtime.
  • It develops their loyalty to you and increases your bond to them.
  • When sleeping, both of you are more vulnerable. Being together increases trust and confidence in each other.
  • Having your dog sleeping with you is like having an alarm system in your bedroom – your dog will alert you to danger.
  • Your dog could get into trouble roaming freely around the house at night.
  • You and your dog will sleep deeper and longer when you know the other one is asleep. Your dog will develop your sleep pattern.
  • It brings your dog joy and happiness to be with you as much as possible.
  • Your dog can warm up your bed for you, and you can keep your dog warm.

These claims are not supported by data collected specifically while sleeping in bed with their owner. The health benefits are real, but data was collected relevant to pet ownership in its entirety. It was speculation that spending more time with your dog while sleeping with them means the health benefits will be greater. These “pros” give one side of the issue. Their inclusion here is not an endorsement nor a statement of their validity.

There is one study which shows that having one pet in your bedroom does not disrupt sleep, but the pet in the bed is disruptive.

a woman in pajamas lays with her dog
(Photo by Kristina Petrick on Unsplash)

The cons

There are numerous reasons why your dog should not sleep in your bed:

  • According to Vetinfo, dogs who already display signs of disobedience and dominance should be required to sleep in a kennel or dog bed. Sleeping with you can make behavior problems worse. It may start to cause behavioral problems where there were none. Your dog needs your leadership. Establish your dominance by keeping your dog out of your bed.
  • Some pet parents opt out of co-sleeping due to personal preferences. If a dog rolls over a lot, kicks, scratches a lot, or snores loudly, it can disturb a light-sleeper.
  • Infectious diseases are a hazard. Dogs often step in or eat feces. There is a possibility of your pet transmitting bacteria or parasites like salmonella or
    heartworms to you. You can assume that your dog carries some kind of bacteria picked up by stepping in it.
  • If you have asthma or other allergies, having your dog’s fur in your bed may make these issues worse.
  • Your dog is very young or very old.
  • Your dog is not potty-trained.
  • Your dog is not vaccinated.
Dog bed with adorable puppy lying on it
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Doctor’s prescription: Keep your dog out of your bed

For dog owners who still want to share a bedroom with their best friend, there are safe steps you can take to make this happen. First, purchase a comfortable bed. Place it right next to your bed, to lessen the shock of change. Make the change slowly to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Train your dog to stay off the bed by using a leash and the word “off.” The dog will learn through repetition to stay off the bed. Take your dog into the bedroom on a leash. When they jump on the bed, gently pull them off and say “off.” When they’re off, tell them to sit. Praise your dog after they jump off the bed and sits. Your encouragement will help them learn.
  • After you praise your dog, lead them to their new bed, have them lie down, and praise them again. Use a dog treat as a reward. Do this just occasionally, because excessive treat feeding can cause weight gain and encourage whining and begging.

In most cases, your pet will begin sleeping on their own bed regularly after a few weeks. Eventually, you will be able to move the bed to another area of
the bedroom or the house with ease. If your dog does not respond to this training method, consider hiring a professional dog trainer.

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About Dr. Faith Coleman

Dr. Coleman is a graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and holds a BA in journalism from UNM. She completed her family practice residency at Wm. Beaumont Hospital, Troy and Royal Oak, MI, consistently ranked among the United States Top 100 Hospitals by US News and World Report. Dr. Coleman writes on health, medicine, family, and parenting for online information services and educational materials for health care providers.

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87 Comments

  1. B Kind says:

    My god, what happened to ppl respectfully agreeing to disagree? Why has everyone seemingly lost being civil & just basic human decency when disagreeing w/fellow humans?? I suspect, much like art/music/driver-ed, they’re no longer teaching civics classes. Look, I get it: we’re passionate abt dogs. Mine gets in bed and sleeps w/us. So while I may not agree 100% w/OP, there’s a respectful way of saying so.

  2. Alex says:

    Even though their Loyal, Loving, Protector, Member of the Family & the Man’s Best Friend. They are still an animal & should be treated like one with Respect, Loving & Devotion as it Deserves! 😉🙂😃

  3. S Dan says:

    Sleeping in the bed is where I draw the line. The dog may sleep in my room in his dog bed. But he may not sleep in my bed. Only way is if it’s a miniature or small dog then maybe. Otherwise no. Our dogs never sleep in our beds growing up.

  4. David M says:

    Don’t buy it nor do I agree. Sorry!

  5. JJ says:

    Apparently, my vet was not included in the poll. When our dog was a puppy, he cried constantly at night. She recommended letting him sleep with us. That was 12 years ago and problem solved.

  6. Steve says:

    The article promises a medical answer but provided no medical/scientific evidence of any danger in sleeping with your pet! Wasted read for me!

  7. Niki says:

    Most of this BS. If these diseases are that easily transmitted then having your dog in your house period is a huge risk. My dogs are family and will always sleep wherever they want. p.s., behavior problems start when you don’t set boundaries early. If you make yourself the alpha you’re still the alpha even in bed. 🤦🏻‍♀️

  8. JOSEPH ANNUNZIATA says:

    A human doctor is not qualified to speak on dogs. My veterinarian of 30+ years experience and certified veterinary behaviorist both say there’s no harm in our dog sleeping in the bed. That’s who I’ll listen to and recommend folks listen to their own veterinarian instead. Many of the points in this article are utterly ridiculous, like getting heartworms from your dog. People should figure out what’s best for their individual situation. Also, if you are going to say there’s evidence you should cite it in text, considering that you are not an expert in the field and therefore can’t simply profess it to be so.

  9. Civilized says:

    Disgusting! Call it what you want but at the end of the day you have a filthy animal in your bed. You people are sick. Gross.

  10. John says:

    You could make the same arguments against letting another human sleep in your bed. And humans spread venereal diseases.

    1. Civilized says:

      Hahaha good one. You’re comparing yourself to a dog. Dog probably smarter then.

  11. Rick says:

    We have had our dogs in our beds for almost 50 years and never had any problems. Didn’t no there would be any problems.

  12. David S. says:

    You know there is always some so called experts out there to tell you want you should and shouldn’t do its called control people. Out little Yorkie has always slept with us since she was 3 months old and she is a perfect well behaved little girl so don’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t do with my dog and how to raise her. So people take my advice do what makes you and your pet happy 😊

    1. Hazel E. Bryan says:

      Since my divorce…7 years ago…I have allowed my rescue dogs to sleep with me. Prefer them over a man any day of the week.

    2. Nikki says:

      This is an article full of misinformation. One being a human certainly cannot contract heartworm from a canine! Poorly written and researched!

  13. Judith Trotter says:

    I have owned a dog and she never slept in my bed. In my opinion it’s just nasty and dirty.

    1. Sunshine says:

      Your dog probably thinks you’re dirty and nasty..Cold hearted Alien.Just tells us you only have your pet for protection. From: Pet Rescuer…

  14. Etta says:

    My dog sleeps in my bed, but I have a large rug that he goes to. Now sometimes he will put his paws on my side. I’ll say go to spot “I point and he does it. My dog is very smart because when I stare at me so I say NO NO and he will go in his cage and not look at me.

  15. Laura says:

    Sleeping in the same bed as a dog that is heartworm positive does not spread heartworms. Mosquitos spread heartworms. What other mistakes are in this article?

  16. adam silva says:

    In my opinion is no” but each is own”