Many pet owners let their dogs sleep in bed with them for comfort, or to stay warmer on a cold winter night. This is a practice that some abhor and others treat their pets like children and afford them all of the possible comforts of the home. We recently learned that having your dog sleep in bed with you might be therapeutic.
Science suggests dogs can ease chronic pain
In addition to keeping your feet warm and giving you a snuggle buddy, your dog may be able to help bring relief if you suffer from chronic pain. According to I Heart Dogs, researchers conducted a study to learn more about the health impacts that allowing dogs to sleep in beds with humans has. The findings were significant and merit consideration. Here is what the researchers learned.
Some people benefit from making their dogs a bed buddy
The study concluded that some pet parents who endure chronic pain are comforted by the presence of their beloved pet. Those who benefit the most are people who are either alone and live with a pet and those who have a close relationship with their dogs. Physical contact with dogs such as cuddling, or simply feeling their presence can curb feelings of loneliness and anxiety, creating an enhanced state of well-being. In some cases, the physical nearness of a beloved pet causes the body to create positive hormones that help us to sleep better and to feel more relaxed. Although more research needs to be done on the topic, the initial findings are positive in favor of allowing your pet to sleep on your bed.
Other health benefits dogs offer
The Center for Disease Control has also weighed in on the subject. Healthcare experts report that pet owners have increased opportunities for getting outside for exercise, socializing, and playing. Studies have shown that people who are close to their pets and play with them regularly benefit from the interactions. Taking your pets for a walk or playing with them has been shown to lower triglyceride levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. A dog can help to alleviate depression and loneliness by providing companionship and entertainment.
Other health benefits
The Huffington Post points out that there are other health benefits associated with owning a pet. Current research also shows that owning a pet can improve your heart health. The decrease in triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure improve your cardiovascular health. This lessens the chances of having a heart attack. Research shows that people who have had heart attacks who are also dog owners have enhanced survival rates over those who do not. Having a dog or other pet makes it necessary for you to get out and take him for a walk. He gets healthy exercise and so do you. Taking your dog for a daily walk can also help you to build physical stamina and it can even help you shed any extra pounds.
Dog owners tend to have lower anxiety and stress levels. Studies have shown that pet owners tend to have increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. These are also referred to as “feel good” chemicals that occur naturally in the body, and help you to feel relaxed and happy. Owning a dog can give single people a sense of purpose and add greater meaning to life. Some dogs sense when their owners are feeling down or ill and they provide an extra dose of love and caring that can perk you up when you’re feeling low. Most dogs desire your company and they are eager to please you.
Concerns about allowing a dog in your bed
Health professionals used to warn against allowing a dog to sleep in bed with you. The chief concern has been the potentially harmful germs that some dogs can carry. Even healthy-appearing dogs can pass on zoonotic diseases to humans. Not all dogs carry these germs, however. Another concern is allergens. Sensitive persons may suffer respiratory symptoms from the fur and dander of a dog. Finally, having a dog in bed with you can disturb your sleep, especially if the pet moves around during the night, or barks at outside noises.
How to stay healthy when your dog sleeps in your bed
The CDC has recommendations to help offset the potential danger of becoming sick from having a dog in bed with you. The first recommendation is to keep your pet immunized and in good health. Get him into the vet for regular checkups as needed. Wash your hands after playing with your dog, after cleaning up after him, and after feeding him. It’s especially important to wash your hands before you eat or drink anything after you’ve played with your pet. You may also use hand sanitizer if you’re not in a place where you can wash your hands properly. Keep him clean and well-groomed to cut down on the amount of hair and pet dander in your bed and make sure to go over the bedding where he sleeps with a vacuum cleaner.
Although there are a few drawbacks associated with allowing your dog to sleep in bed with you, there are also many benefits. It’s a matter of personal preference, but science has discovered indicators that strongly suggest persons who suffer from chronic pain may find relief from letting the pooch sleep on the bed. It has everything to do with the sense of companionship and love that we feel from our pets. Dogs are loyal and faithful friends that love us regardless of what anyone else thinks. They make wonderful support animals and they are known to provide us with the extra love and support that we need when we’re not feeling well. Who could have imagined that the simple act of having Fido sleep at your feet could ease your pain?