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For many people the comfort, warmth and sense of security that sleeping with a dog or cat brings can be a fast-track to great sleep, while strengthening the bond between pet and owner. But is it ok to sleep with a pet in your bed?
Hygiene is an obvious primary concern when considering sleeping with pets. However, many of today's pets are so pampered and preened that they're almost as clean as us humans. Cats are known for their fastidious cleanliness and dogs don’t like to be particularly unclean, so curling up with either isn’t unhygienic in itself.
Some dogs and cats are susceptible to fleas and ticks during warmer months, depending on their coat type and walking routes. If your dog walks alongside long grass or hedgerows it could easily pick them up, and it only takes one insect to start what could become an infestation. Coming into contact with other dogs and cats is another common way that these parasites can be contracted. The good news is that preventative flea and tick treatments are widely-available and easy to administer at home, so if you keep on top of this there’s no reason to worry.
Although they're beloved members of the family, it’s important to accept that your sleep quality is more important than that of your pets. So, if you're being disturbed by your pet sleeping next to you - even occasionally - then it's time to move them into their own bed. This way you’ll both get an undisturbed night, and some pets might prefer having their own private space.
It's also vital to acknowledge that your pet is an animal and has some hard-wired behavioural tendencies that simply don't equate to human routines. When you’re ready to climb into bed after a hard day's work and a relaxing evening don't be surprised if your cat or dog has other ideas. Dogs can have a range of strong behavioural urges relating to their breed type, and cats may, depending on their routine, need to have some nocturnal activity - all of which can lead to your sleep being disturbed.
Provided they're well-groomed there shouldn't be any hygiene problems in letting your cat or dog sleep with you, and if you find that it's relaxing and conducive to your sleep then it is positively beneficial. However if you find that sharing your bed with your pet is impacting on how well or long you sleep then it’s best to sleep apart - you'll both be happier in the long run.