VET’S VIEW: Should you share your bed with your dog?

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VANESSA, my colleague, was not quite with it that morning in the surgery.

She confided that the cause was her Irish setter, Rufus. When he was a puppy it had seemed the natural thing to let him share the bed, but now he was fully grown, he would often stretch out his legs in the night, depositing poor Vanessa on the floor.

No wonder she was looking bleary-eyed!

That was many years ago and since then I have often wondered about advisability of letting our pets share our beds.

After all, surveys have shown that more than half of us do, so what are the risks and benefits?

There is a possibility that dogs allowed to share a bed will start to regard it as their territory and guard it against their human owners, but pet behaviourists say this is only likely if your dog is already showing dominant or possessive tendencies.

Clearly you should make sure your pet is healthy and treated for parasites regularly so it is unlikely to pass anything on to you.

Beyond this, experts seem to agree that the risk of disease transmission is low, but people who suffer from allergies or a compromised immune system do need to take particular care.

Although dogs sometimes inveigle their way into the bed, many owners make a positive decision to share their sleeping quarters with their pet.

There is no doubt that many appreciate the close companionship, and science has shown that physical contact – whether human or animal – releases neurotransmitters which enhance our sense of wellbeing.

Of course, it’s important that you don’t get a disturbed night.

Vanessa eventually gave in and got herself a bigger bed.

Ultimately, I think whether we share our beds with our pets or not is down to personal choice.

I wonder what you do?