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641: Pet In Your Bed

In the United States, surveys and studies by a number of sources report that between 45 and 56 percent of pet owners share their bed with their pets. One survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association found that nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s beds. The survey found that 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium-sized dogs and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners.

It also seems that a lot more cats than dogs share their owner’s beds… but this may likely be because, frankly, cats seem to do pretty much whatever they want.

But – what is the impact of all of this co-sleeping between species? As per the usual, it depends on what research you’re looking at.

In a February 2011 issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers detailed the kind of diseases that pets managed to transmit to their humans The list includes MRSA, bubonic plague (yes, really), blood infections, and a variety of other infections. The researchers in that study, not surprisingly, suggest that pets stay out of the human’s bed to help prevent disease transmission, even though it is not particularly common.

Another vote on the side of perhaps not sharing your bed with a pet is, surprisingly, the American Kennel Club. Quote:

Previous studies have shown that owners sharing a bed with their pet report greater sleep disturbances than people whose pets did not sleep in their bed. One factor that may explain this difference is that dogs are polyphasic sleepers and average three sleep/wake cycles per nighttime hour, whereas humans are monophasic sleepers (one period of sleep over a 24-hour cycle). Dogs also stay alert for sounds, even when sleeping, which may make them lighter sleepers than their humans.

However, both the American Kennel Club and some research in the proceedings of the Mayo Clinic found that sharing a bed with your pet can also be relaxing and a positive overall experience. Quote:

41% of owners said their pets were not disruptive, with some – particularly individuals who were single – saying their presence even helped them sleep by providing security, companionship or relaxation.