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. Kris says:

    All of you out there who are reading this. Please understand that while yes, there are problems with your dog sleeping in your bed. There are those of us out here who do it for medical reasons. If you have a PTSD dog, it is probably best for them to be on your bed so that they know the first minute you move at night and can watch for your reaction to that movement and act quickly

  2. A Warner says:

    My service dog sleeps in my bed and has saved my life countless times. She wakes me when my blood sugar drops or escalates, alerts me before an epileptic episode and heart issues. My dog has footbath in mudroom upon reentry and is bathed frequently.

  3. Debra Miller says:

    This article is wrong. Just wrong. I cant sleep without my dog next to me.

  4. Rsch says:

    This article is so untrue and crazy. Heartworm……lol! That is the funniest thing. The author tried but missed the mark. At least say you could get a flea bite or something that could really happen! Maybe get bit by the dog!? Or suffocated from excessive snuggling?Lol! Im just laughing because its so absurd!

  5. Edeliz says:

    This article is very biased, clearly this person has never owned a dog.

  6. Michele Bonnett says:

    Hmmm, this is not hard scientific evidence. There are glaring inconsistencies so I would side on the common sense of dog owners cannot be fooled. You obviously don’t sleep with your pet. . . Most people reading this will just scoff and laugh at your no causal linkages. Our species evolved sleeping with wolves then dogs, why don’t you talk about this. Just like the smart people, we won’t believe in fake science and this article needs to be reviewed for real science.

  7. Amy says:

    I do and will sleep with my pet. It is worth all the supposed “risks” you state. As a survivir of severe mental and physical abuse as a child and an adult , my pet helps with night trauma that has plagued me my whole life. Extensive therapist have provided some relief but nothing like my pet sleeping with me. My house, my bed, my rules…..you don’t like it hit the road jack.

  8. Michelle says:

    This article BS, my Yorkie was 13 and my Emotional Support Animal, she died in my arms at the animal hospital due to being poisoned by my X roommate, she ment the world to me , She slept in the bed with me every night, the person who wrote this Article doesn’t truly love dogs / doesn’t care about pet , there’s not a darn thing wrong about having your dog in your bed God gave us dogs as companions He even turned his name around for theese companions ( God–> Dog )

  9. Mardi says:

    It’s a personal preference. Neither good nor bad. Don’t let people tell you.how raise your dog or cat. That is providing, that there is no cruelty involved.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Stopped reading this as soon as I saw “heartworm transmission”, seriously, to the person who wrote this, do this research again and do it properly, the cons is all wrong, except asthma, for people who have asthma, which is obvious.
    It is all depend on the owner doing their job in keeping their pet clean, vaccinated, groomed. Don’t blame on dog for some owner laziness.

  11. Trish says:

    This article is BS. Pros outweigh the cons and the cons are crap. It’s like your fishing for problems. Not even true medical facts. You could find something bad in anything. Next you’ll be writing an article about why sleeping with your children is medically wrong and unhealthy. Don’t want to catch any diseases.

  12. Tim Huffman says:

    Well my chaweines saved my life at the cost of their lives by being in bed with me when a fire erupted and somehow woke me up with the whole bedroom on fire and I just came awake and lept thru the flames and I didn’t have the presence of mind to grab Dixie and Blu who were in bed with me and I was unable to get back in becuz the fire was burning so fast to get them and I blame myself for their loss every day.

  13. dennis says:

    Careful to not be too critical of the poster… Whoever runs this page has no problem censoring you and will delete any educated, strongly written dissenting opinion they don’t like.

    1. Faith A Coleman says:

      Dennis, there are dozens of dissenting opinions here. No comments have been altered or deleted. I consider each comment with care. Thanks to all those who have cared enough to take your valuable time to comment. In keeping with the mission of Study Find, we encourage our readers to think for themselves and apply (or not) the information as each one of you sees fit.

  14. Jay says:

    My dog passed away last year and I had him for 16 beautiful years. I let him sleep in bed with me every single night and would not change one damn thing. He was my dog soulmate. Don’t listen to this article. Keep your dog vaccinated, wipe their paws after walks, wash your sheets often, you’ll be fine.

  15. ColoKat says:

    My dogs don’t sleep With Us Per se…..but they do sleep On our bed. I wash all my bedding including lightweight quilt covering bed which is what they sleep on, once a week or more often depending on our weather. Well that And their Blanket which is on top of my quilt. My dogs get bathed and groomed every 4 weeks. As for diseases, we don’t have a big heartworm issue in our state….Colorado, and since they’re little dogs 15 lbs and under, they don’t go walk accept on sidewalk around our block. While I trust Some vets, I dont trust those who treat.animals like Actual animals. My vets are Animal people and treat them as family members…..which after my children grew up, they are my fur babies. Take whats written with grain of salt. You don’t want your dogs sleeping “with you” don’t. For those of us who have fur babies, they’re near at night. They have beds on floor by our bed, and do sleep in them as well….their choice!!

  16. Lianne says:

    Dog dominance theory is WRONG in every way. It isn’t true for wolves and it isn’t true for dogs. Letting a dog sleep with you or letting them eat first or walk in front of you won’t magically make your dog disobey you. Next, if your dog has salmonella or other transmitted diseases just touching them, which I hope everyone does, will spread it… So not letting them in the bed doesn’t magically stop that. Allergies and asthma are good reasons though. Also pretty terrible “training” advice. If you are training on leash why would you let them on the bed?

  17. Katy says:

    Totally disagree w this article. Arguments not convincing at all. My husband and I sleep with our 3 small doggy family members and it is joy for all 5 of us. Stop discouraging people from one of life’s pleasures.

  18. P Andrews says:

    DOGS cannot transmit heartworms to people! This needs to be corrected.

  19. Terry Canuck says:

    This was written by a doctor, and just like everyone else on here, i disagree based on personal experience. Lets not forget that doctors were responsible for global shutdowns, because they just didnt know and preferred extreme caution. The politicians followed because lawyers enforce liability. Two professions that i would never trust. Trying to find new ways to stay relevant with fear.

  20. JP says:

    I have asthma and I must admit that having our dog in bed with us probably has a negative effect on my breathing. And I STILL sleep with our dog in bed. They are pack creatures and we are their pack. Simple as that.