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Should you sleep with your dog?

Health

Should you sleep with your dog?

For dog lovers, sharing beds with our furry friends is a habit that goes back to the earliest days of our relationship with canines when they kept us warm at night and warned us of potential danger.
These days, Rocky or Princess is more likely to be a snuggle buddy than a predator alert system. Still, about half of U.S. dog owners let their dogs sleep with them, according to research by the American Kennel Club and Mayo Clinic.
But is sleeping with your dog a good idea for your health? It depends on you – and your pup.

Part of our families

For many people, the urge to share their bed with a dog comes naturally.
“Dogs are parts of our families,” says Tidelands Health family medicine physician Dr. Mark Owolabi, who practices at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at Holmestown Road.
Still, there are a few things to consider when bedding down with your dog — fleas, for example, and other potential pests that might find you just as — if not more — inviting than your pet. There’s also the issue of dander and pollen, Dr. Owolabi says, which can aggravate allergies in people who are sensitive.
“If you’re sensitive, sleeping with your dog can make your symptoms worse,” says Dr. Owolabi, who serves as a faculty member at the Tidelands Health MUSC Family Medicine Residency Program. “However, you can control that with an antihistamine.”

A comfort - or distraction?

If you make space on the bed for your favorite four-legged friend, you’re in good company. Everyone from the Egyptian Pharoah Ramses the Great to Civil War Gen. George Custer reportely curled up with canines at night.
But lying next to a sleeping dog isn’t for everyone. Mrs. Custer fought her own battle to keep the dogs on the floor. George Custer eventually agreed to keep them off the bed when he was home, although he cuddled them on his cot while in the field.

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Two studies by the Mayo Clinic found that sharing the bed with a pooch can be comforting and help some people sleep better, especially if they’re sleeping alone. Others in the study had a bone to pick: The more fidgety the dog, the less restful the person slept.
But, as anyone who with a snoring bed partner can attest, other humans or our own health conditions can disrupt our sleep as much or more than a snoozing schnauzer. Ultimately, the decision about whether to sleep with your pup comes down to personal preference and whether your find your friend’s presence comforting or distracting.
“When I see patients in clinic, and we talk about sleep issues, pets are rarely part of it,” Dr. Owolabi says.

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