family & Pets

Courtney Allan

Should you let your pets sleep in your bed with you?

Should you let your pets sleep in your bed with you?

Animals bring comfort and security to their owners, so it’s not surprising that half of pet owners let their animals sleep in the same bed as them.

The Australian study, Should we let sleeping dogs lie… with us? , says that it has widely been recorded in ethnographies of Indigenous Australians.

"During cold nights, Indigenous Australians were often reported to sleep alongside their dogs for warmth," the authors wrote.

"This practice is implicated in the common Australian expression 'three-dog night': The colder the night, the more dogs are needed to keep warm."

However, cats are the most frequent bed visitors, which is closely followed by smaller breeds of dogs.

Animal behaviourist Kate Mornement explained why.

“Our pets like to be in bed with us because it's warm, cosy and they associate that area with positive things like affection and company,” Dr Mornement told ABC Life.

However, there are risks if you let your pet sleep in your bed all the time.

As dogs and cats carry bacteria and parasites, such as roundworms, there’s a health risk associated with being in close proximity with the animals.

However, these risks are low, particularly if the animals are kept clean and have routine vet checks.

Veterinary health expert Jane Heller explained why, comparing it to being in close proximity with a sick human being.

"If that human is unwell, or carrying bacteria or a parasite, you won't necessarily get that bug, but the risk is greater than if you were not in such close contact," she said.

However, the risks are associated with animals as well.

"Anyone who has slept in a bed with an animal will have at some stage woken up with their bottom in their face," she says, adding that can increase risk.

If you’re worried about your relationship with your pet and whether or not they’ll be confused as to who’s the boss, you needn’t be, especially if you have dogs.

"Being on the bed has nothing to do with being the pack leader or dominant. They just want to be there because it's comfy," Dr Mornement explained.

"Dogs that are allowed to sleep on the bed are more likely to guard the bed as a resource, even from pets or from a partner.”

"They may show aggression to prevent other people or pets coming on to the bed … but it can be resolved quite easily with training."

Long story short? It’s okay to let them sleep on the bed.