Americans love their pets – so much so that many people like to sleep with them at night. In fact, according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, about four out of ten dog owners allow their beloved pooches to sleep with them in their beds.
Studies have shown that sleeping with pets can create a sense of companionship, security and relaxation, and can also offer a number of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and reducing feelings of anxiety and loneliness. However, while no less of an authority than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that sleeping with pets can be a positive experience, it also recommends taking certain safety precautions to protect your health.
The following tips can make sleeping with your dog safe and enjoyable for both of you.
Make sure your pet is housebroken.
Young puppies may not have the bladder control to avoid wetting the bed, and some breeds may be too small to get down from the bed on their own. Both situations can lead to accidents that ruin your bedspread, sheets and mattress. Even with housebroken pets, make sure they “do their business” at night before getting into your bed.
Have regular pet checkups.
Before allowing any pet to sleep in your bed, have a licensed veterinarian examine them to ensure they don’t have any diseases. After your pet receives a clean bill of health, schedule routine checkups once or twice a year as a preventative measure. Also, make sure your pet has all the required vaccinations, and keep them up to date. If your pet shows any signs of illness or disease, contact your vet immediately.
Keep your pet clean.
Bathe and groom your pet on a regular basis, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors. If necessary, use veterinary-approved products to protect against fleas, ticks and other parasites. Once the pet is sleeping with you, practice good hygiene to prevent the transmission of germs. This includes washing your hands with soap if you contact your pet’s saliva, and immediately changing and disinfecting the bedding after any doggie “accidents.”
Stay in command.
To ensure your pet understands it is your bed, never let them jump up on the bed without being invited. To maintain a position of dominance, experts suggest making the dog stay on the floor for 10 minutes before inviting them up onto the bed. Also, don’t allow your dog to eat in bed, as this sends the wrong message about what the bed is for. If your pet misbehaves of exhibits dominant behavior, send them off the bed to sleep somewhere else.
Use a latex mattress.
Even if you keep your pets clean and well groomed, you will still end up with a certain amount of animal dander in the bed. A latex mattress offers anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, as well as being resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew and other common allergens. Wash your sheets at least once a week, if not more often.
Sleeping together can be a bonding experience for you and your pet. Just remember to keep it clean and safe so you can both enjoy a good night’s sleep.