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.
Shives recommends that people who have difficulty sleeping consider keeping pets out of the bedroom.
Can Pets Help Sleep?
But for people with no problem falling or staying asleep, Shives says it’s fine to allow a dog or cat in the bed.
"There are all kinds of medical benefits to having a pet," says Shives, who sleeps with her 45-pound dog. "And some people might feel safer or calmer with a dog in their bed."
Candace Hunziker of Kennesaw, Ga, says that’s exactly why she sleeps with her Labrador retriever mix, P.
"She sleeps against me and she has very rhythmic breathing and it just puts me out," Hunziker says. "I have insomnia, my whole family does, and we all sleep with dogs. She puts me to sleep better than an Ambien."
What About Sex?
And then there’s the whole matter of intimacy, with a pet in the bed. Can it interfere with your sex life? That depends, say Elizabeth and Charles Schmitz, love and marriage experts who wrote "Golden Anniversaries: The Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage."
"Many, many of our successful couples have pets and many sleep with them," Elizabeth Schmitz says.
But how they deal with the issue of intimacy varies, she says.
"Some put them outside the bedroom because they don’t want them to watch," she says. "Some give them a treat to distract them. Some don’t mind if the pet stays on the bed."
Charles Schmitz says the biggest issue is how both people feel about the pet being there.
"If one person is fine with the dog, but the other isn’t, then you’ve got a problem," he says. "You absolutely have to talk about it and make sure both people are comfortable with the situation."
And it’s also important that pets don’t physically come between a couple at night, they say.
"The snuggling and the holding and the touching is critical," Elizabeth Schmitz says. "It’s one of the seven secrets of a successful marriage. It’s more important than sex."
Getting a Cat Out of Your Bed
And even when people finally make the hard decision to eject their pet from the bed, most find it’s not an easy task.
Ingrid Johnson, a veterinary technician and consultant on feline behavior at a clinic in Marietta, Ga., says she advises clients to never let their cat in their bedroom if they don’t want to sleep with the cat. She says for cats it’s all or nothing, so the door must always be open to them, or never open to them.
"If you suddenly shut a cat out of the bedroom, they can get very frustrated and start displaying destructive behavior," Johnson says. "Cats don’t react well if you take away territory."