When Pam Lewis, 52, brought home Squeak, a tiny Chihuahua mix she rescued during the pandemic, she planned to have her sleep in her crate, like her previous dogs.
“I’ve always believed that a dog shouldn’t sleep in the bed,” she says. She never intended to make an exception for Squeak.
Then Squeak got a respiratory infection. “She was really miserable, really sick, and there was a night or two where I just wanted to make sure she was OK all night, so I put her in the bed,” says Lewis, who lives in Chicago.
Now Squeak cuddles up to Lewis in bed every night, and that’s a problem. “She wants to be right next to me or on me, and I’m not sleeping well,” Lewis says. “I’ve hit a threshold. We really need to get her back off the bed.”
The case against pets in the bed
This scenario isn’t uncommon, says Kwane Stewart, veterinarian and founder of Project Street Vet. In his 25 years of practice, he’s heard this story many times from clients — and he’s been in the same boat himself. He used to allow his dog in his bed, but over the years, good sleep has become harder to come by, and he now maintains a pet-free sleeping space.
“There’s the pet’s health, and there’s human health,” Stewart says. “As much as you’re looking out for your pet’s health, you’re also looking out for your own.”
Here are some reasons why you may not want your pet to share your bed.
1. Possible injury
Jumping in and out of bed is more of an athletic feat for our dogs than it is for us, and for long-backed dogs like corgis, small breeds, puppies whose bones are still growing or dogs with arthritis, that type of movement can be downright dangerous.
“About 20 percent of all dogs have some form of arthritis, and jumping on and off a bed is not ideal for maintaining joint health,” Stewart says.
Dogs with a long, low build are more likely than others to suffer a back injury due to that repetitive motion. “Dachshunds are the leader in that territory. They can slip a disc or worse — I’ve seen them come in paralyzed,” he adds. There’s also the potential for injury from falling off a bed while dreaming or if a pet has a seizure.