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Could sleeping with your pets do more harm than help?

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There's no denying a pet owner's love for their animals, some people do everything with their furry friends and that includes sharing a bed.

It's hard to resist letting your pet snuggle up with you at night, but have you ever wondered if your furry friend could be bringing more to the bed than the cuteness factor?

Amy Anderson, a veterinarian at the West Fargo Animal Hospital says the possibility of fleas, ticks, viruses and infections spreading by sleeping with your pet are rare, but it could happen, and your pets aren't necessarily the main culprit.

"You know, a lot of these infections, or bacterial infections, the humans are the carriers in their nose and oral cavities. And so, kissing, hugging, licking, you know, it can transfer both ways. So, I hate to always blame the pet for the source of an infection," said Anderson.

If you want to avoid spreading infections there's a few things you can do.

"Frequent hand washing is the number one way to prevent infection. But, washing bowls and collars, pet blankets, things like that on you know, the hot or sterile cycle in your dishwasher or washing machine is a very good way to prevent contamination of things," said Anderson.

That same philosophy doesn't extend to your pooch.

In fact, Dr. Anderson says they shouldn't be bathed often.

"We recommend trying not to bathe more than once a month. Anymore often than that, you really risk drying out their skin and hair coat," said Anderson.

After finding out that the possibility of spreading dangerous germs in bed is unlikely, I decided to find out what can happen to a human, or pet's sleep cycle if they share the bed.

LeAnn Wages, a Sleep Medicine, Clinical Nurse Specialist says the number of pets in your bed could affect the amount of sleep you get.

"The more living beings you have in the bed, the more disruptions there's going to be. So, generally if you were going to have a pet in the bed, or even in the bedroom, one would be recommended over multiple," said Wages.

Below are responses from pet owners.

"I have one dog and three cats, they all sleep with me," said Beth Svenby, pet owner.

"The only reason why they aren't all in bed with me is the one that does sleep with me gets bed aggressive or territorial for the bed," said Sheila Heim, pet owner.

While they have different arrangements they do it for similar reasons.

"It's really comforting, having i don't know, that, those bodies there I guess," said Svenby.


Wages says that's just fine as long as you're feeling well rested.

Otherwise, you may have to give them the boot.

"Poor sleep hygiene, or poor habits though are really a very large problem with insomnia and pets play into that because of your relationships and your routines affect your sleep in great ways," said Wages.

The veterinarian says don't overlook the obvious if it makes you happy, it's ok.

"They bring joy. Having that little fur ball snuggled up to you at night, or licking your face in the morning to wake you up is great! And so, I absolutely think it's okay to sleep with your pets in the right situation," said Svenby. 

Dr. Anderson suggests that when you get a puppy, you crate train it before letting it sleep with you.

She says this could help prevent separation anxiety in the future.