Is sleeping with your dog or cat healthy? It depends. There are physical and emotional tradeoffs to inviting your pet into bed and it’s important to weigh these factors before deciding. If you’re among the 15% to 30% of people with pet allergies, you have to consider how being a pet owner cuts into sleep.1 Exposure to pet dander from cats and dogs can result in congestion, sneezing, coughing, chest tightness and wheezing that can keep you awake all night long.2, 3
If you’re allergic to pet dander, your co-sleeping arrangement may not be so cozy. In fact, some allergy experts recommend that you make the bedroom a pet-free zone both during the day and at night.1 But if you don’t feel comfortable kicking your pet out entirely, you can take action to minimize allergens in the bedroom:
- Buy new hypoallergenic pillows and bedding with tightly woven fabric or be sure to do a thorough deep clean of your bedroom since pet dander is “sticky.”1, 3
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or disposable electrostatic bag to contain allergens.1, 3
- For cleaning surfaces, use an anti-allergen spray.1, 3
- When it comes to eliminating the allergens on your bedding, you have options: a 140°F hot wash with one rinse, any temperature wash with two rinses, or steam wash them.4
- Remove any wall-to-wall carpet and replacing it with hardwood, tile, or rugs you can steam clean or wash with hot water in your washing machine.1
- Replace drapes with ones you can regularly wash in hot water.3
- Finally, minimize upholstered furniture, but if you must, choose cotton-covered furniture and steam clean it regularly.3
Just like taking special care when cleaning your bedroom, take special care to clean your pet and their products. Buy bedding for your pet that can be washed regularly and a cage that can be cleaned quickly.3 If you have a cat, use clumping litter and clean the box often.3 Minimize pet dander build-up and flaking by giving your pet a bath at least once a week and by brushing your pet often (preferably outside).1, 3
Is your pet having trouble sleeping through the night? Maybe your dog wakes up too early or your cat frolics around the house fighting a plastic bag at one o’clock in the morning. Try these tips to keep them sleeping while you do.
- Wear them out: Just like humans, dogs and cats sleep better when they exercise. Try taking your dog out for an extra walk or riling up your cat for a 10-minute play session just before bedtime.
- Don’t toss and turn: If you share a bed with your pet, don’t toss and turn loudly because it might wake up your pet. Likewise, if your pet gets restless in the middle of the night, stay calm so it doesn’t become even more excited.
- Stand your ground: Unless your dog or cat is sick or has to go to the bathroom, don’t give in to their meowing or whining at night. If they regularly get you out of bed to play, it can become a recurring problem.
- Establish new behaviors: Crate-train puppies and older dogs to prevent them from sleeping on your bed. In the beginning, put the crate in your bedroom so it doesn’t become associated with social isolation. When your dog begins to sleep comfortably through the night, you can gradually move it to another location.
- Serve a late dinner: Start pushing your pet’s dinnertime back 15 minutes each night. The closer you get to feeding them just before bedtime, the less they’ll beg you for food during the night or early in the morning.
Ultimately, it comes down to preference and circumstance. If your pet is constantly waking you up, you might want to make some changes or reconsider your sleeping arrangement.