3 reasons not to sleep with your dog: vet warns of the biggest mistakes

Szénási Szimonetta

2024. May 11 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

Many people like to sleep with their pet, but there are several health risks. However, veterinarian Dr. Lilla Balatonyi points out that the owner is mainly responsible for these hazards.


Cuddling up with your four-legged friend, breathing peacefully, is heavenly, especially when it’s getting colder outside. Many of our readers have confessed in our articles on similar topics that they also nap together. But a recent study suggests that this is not necessarily a good idea. Researchers list several risks associated with sleeping with dogs, which we asked Dr. Lilla Balatonyi, veterinarian about.

Dr. Lilla Balatonyi drew attention to what dog owners should pay attention to.

Small sample size, lots of missing information

Before going any further, it is important to note the problems of the research in question, which the authors themselves and Dr. Lilla Balatonyi have drawn attention to. On the one hand, few owners participated in the study and their health status is unknown. So you don’t know if they had any illnesses or if there were any factors – medication, pregnancy, low to high age, etc. -, which influenced the physical reactions. On the other hand, most of the problems that arise are related to ignorance and inadequate housing conditions. Plus, many of the risks involved only arise in specific situations, such as raw feeding. So let’s look at the arguments against co-sleeping and how you can protect yourself against the triggers!

1) Allergies, asthma

Hair shed from a dog can cause an allergic reaction, and the tiny hairs can lead to breathing problems, sometimes asthmatic symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath, or asthma. Allergic symptoms can also manifest as skin complaints, hives. It’ s important to know that allergies can develop at any time in your life, so it’s not necessarily reassuring that you haven’t had a problem with animal hair before.

This is the only statement that cannot be argued with, as allergies depend on the individual sensitivity of the body. But you can improve the situation by combing your pet’s coat regularly and vacuuming more often, depending on the breed. This will minimise the presence of free-floating hairs clinging to furniture.

2) Fleas, ticks, intestinal worms

If the dog that wanders into your bed has fleas, the small parasites can quickly multiply on the fabric. They can be very difficult to eradicate, and you can also get itchy, red rashes from their bites. Ticks and intestinal worms are just as dangerous.

However, as the doctor stresses, a regularly de-wormed dog protected against external parasites should not be a problem. Only in the case of the tick can the repellent used on the animal make the parasite not start to suck blood and drop out of the dog. But this is relatively rare!

Prevention is very important against fleas and all other parasites – ticks, lice, intestinal worms! It’s also essential to check the dog’s coat after long walks in woodland or grassy areas. This way, you can spot in time if a tick has attached itself to it.

3.) Bacteria

The tests showed that 86% of dogs and 32% of cats tested positive for a group of bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae, which includes Salmonella, E. coli and Shigella. They are a common cause of gastroenteritis in humans and are easily transmitted from pets.

Again, the living conditions of the research participants are not known. These bacteria mostly in the case of raw feeding may be present in the dog’s mouth, whereas this should not be a concern for a four-legged friend living on an indoor, store-bought diet.

Overall, sleeping with a dog can be risky, but especially if you don’t follow basic hygiene and health rules. Alternatively, people with weakened immune systems should avoid it. In all other cases, it can even be good for you!

The positives of sleeping with a dog

As the veterinarian pointed out, co-sleeping can have many positive benefits, which have been confirmed by studies.

Many people have reported that they sleep more soundly when they have a pet with them. (On the other hand, those who are already poor sleepers may be disturbed by the sound of the pet moving around; in their case, sleeping in the same airspace may be ideal.)

As for the already debunked dominance theory, just a note: no, your dog won’t grow on you and think he’s the leader of the pack if you let it into your bed! In fact, it’ll just strengthen and deepen the relationship between you and your dog, which is something every owner should be happy about!

co-sleeping Dr. Lilla Balatonyi flea intestinal worm sleeping with dog tick veterinarian

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