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Pets in Your Bed

WebMD discusses the health implications of your pets sleeping in bed with you and how you can keep the bedroom healthy.
By Sandy Eckstein
WebMD Pet Health Feature

When Ingrid and Shea Armour brought their new Weimaraner puppy, Cooper, home, they were determined to keep him off their bed. So they bought a dog crate, with a bed and fluffy blankets to ensure he had a warm, comfy place to sleep.

Cooper, however, had other ideas.

The first night he whined, yelped, howled, and cried. The Armours made it six hours before their resolve broke and little Cooper was out of the crate and in their bed, where he remained for the next two years.

"He’d sleep between us, under the covers, with his head on the pillow," Ingrid Armour says. "He thought he was human."

Who’s Sleeping With Their Pets?

Sleeping with pets isn’t unusual in this country. According to a recent survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association, 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.

The survey also found that 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, and another 13% of cats sleep with children.

Is It Healthy to Sleep with Pets?

So is it healthy to have your dog sleeping in your bed? Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma & Immunology in Louisville, Ky., says people who suffer from pet allergies or asthma should not sleep with their dog or cat or even allow them in the bedroom.

"Use a HEPA filter and keep them out of the bedroom to give your nose a few hours a day to recover," Damin says.

But Damin says most pet lovers won’t kick Fido out of bed, even if they discover their pets are causing allergy problems. For those people he recommends allergy shots to build up a tolerance to the pet dander that causes allergic reactions.

"But if you’re not allergic, there’s really no big issue with having a dog in the bed," says Damin, who for years shared his bed with his miniature dachshund. "It’s fine as long as it doesn’t disturb your sleep."

Snoring, Kicking, Cover-Hogging Pets

Which brings up another problem with sharing the bed with a pet -- they can disturb your sleep. A study released by the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center found that about half the patients in the study had a dog or cat, and 53% of those pet owners said their pets disturbed their sleep in some way nightly.

"I’ve had patients that I’ve spent visit after visit going over their insomnia problems, trying to figure out what’s happening, then I find out they have a dog that’s scratching all night," says Lisa Shives, MD, medical director of Northshore Sleep Medicine, a sleep center outside Chicago,

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