Should I let my dog sleep in my bed? Specialists offer expert insights

Sharing a bed with your dog could strengthen your bond, but it's sure to litter your bed with dirt and dander

Double bed with blue curtain at the head of the bed and ottoman at the base, pale wooden floor and turquoise and white walls
(Image credit: Future)

When my best friend chose her new puppy, I wanted to gift her the best dog bed. I put my sales-hunter skills to good use and spent hours searching the web to find a premium pet bed without the premium price tag. Turns out, I might as well not have bothered: the dog sleeps best in my friend's bed. 

Co-sleeping can foster affection and trust between dogs and their owners, though it might mess up your bed in the process. Sharing a bed with a pet increases the amount of dust and dirt between your sheets, which might pose a problem for sensitive sleepers. Even the best bed sheets might not stand up embedded fur. Some pet parents would never share a bed with their dog: others co-sleep every night. In the face of so much conflicting advice, it can be hard to tell what's best for your pet. 

That's where I come in. I've gathered expert insights from registered veterinarians and pet behavior specialists to help you find the routine that works for you and your dog. If you don't mind a little mess, then you could reap the rewards of co-sleeping. If you prefer to keep things neat, then you should explore alternative sleeping arrangements. 

Should I let my dog sleep in my bed? Expert advice

What are the benefits of letting my dog sleep in my bed?

Green textured wallpaper in bedroom with floral artwork on walls, cane bedhead and red bedside table and white bedding

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

According to registered veterinarian Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM, sharing a bed with your pet could help to boost your pup's mood. 'Dogs like to sleep alongside their human companions because physical closeness to their owners releases the hormones oxytocin and dopamine, which makes animals feel good,' explains Laurie. This could be especially beneficial for anxious pets, as 'close physical contact with a trusted human can ease their stress. 

Laurie reckons that stress relief goes both ways, since 'dogs, in turn, tend to calm people when they come into close contact, levelling their blood pressure and alleviating their anxiety. Close physical contact between pets and their owners not only strengthens their bond, but is proven to treat symptoms of depression in people'. 

It's no fun sharing a bed with a messy pet. 'No one wants to sleep with a dog whose skin is covered in parasites or whose coat is laden with dirt,' says Laurie. However, there's an unexpected upside to the increase in dirt and dander: 'letting your pup in your bed might make you more attentive to their health and wellbeing, as well as their grooming routine.' 

Headshot of Laurie Hess.
Dr. Laurie Hess, DVM

Dr. Laurie is a USDA federally accredited veterinarian, as well as a seasoned pet blogger. She is the primary pet consultant at Chewy, one of the leading online marketplaces for pet food and grooming supplies. 

If you're keen to share a bed with your dog, but you're a bit precious about your sheets, then it's worth investing in the best pet-resistant bedding. Keep an eye out for breathable fabrics and robust weaves, such as cotton percale, to avoid wear and tear and minimize bad odors. 

Full disclosure: I haven't sampled each of the bed sheets and blankets below. Instead, I've scoured the specifications and read countless customer reviews from real pet owners to make sure I'm recommending quality products. 

What are the downsides of letting my dog sleep in my bed?

A dog on an ottoman at the food of a bed

(Image credit: James Merrell)

Sharing a bed with your dog invites dust and dander between the sheets. Although a quick brush with a lint roller, like this BLACK+DECKER Pet Hair Remover at Walmart, should pick up the worst of the dirt, it only takes a few little microbes to irritate your skin and aggravate your allergies.

According to dog expert Shaina Denny, the key to co-sleeping is consistency: 'if your dog is allowed to sleep in your bed occasionally, and then not allowed on other nights, it can create confusion.' Shaina believes that 'dogs thrive on routine, so keeping clear and consistent rules helps them to understand what's expected', and should minimize disruption to your own nightly rituals.

Shaina is the CEO of Dogdrop, a premier dog daycare provider that offers an entertaining, educational stay for dogs throughout the day. As a pet sitter and a dog owner, Shaina understands the importance of laying down the law, and wonders whether 'allowing your dog in the bed might signal to them that it's acceptable to jump on furniture in other areas of the house. If you're trying to enforce rules about staying off furniture, such mixed signals could impede your training'. 

Headshot of Shaina Denny.
Shaina Denny

Shaina is the CEO of Dogdrop, a venture-backed, female-founded start-up building the next generation of dog care. She's passionate about international business, lifelong learning, and her miniature dachshund, Poppy.

Should I get a dog bed?

Your dog doesn't need to sleep in your bed. In fact, if either you or your dog has special behavioral or medical needs, then you might both sleep better in your own space. I asked Dr. Jo Myers, DVM, to tell me more. 

'Sometimes,' says Jo, 'a dog develops a medical condition that requires special bedding. Arthritic dogs might sleep better on a gently heated bed' that's low to the ground and doesn't require great leaps and jumps to get on and off. 

In three decades as a registered veterinarian, Jo has seen her fair share of 'dogs who usually sleep on rough concrete develop sores on their elbows or heels'. Although 'softer bedding is necessary while they heal,' that doesn't mean you need to let your dog into your bed. You could plump for a plush, premium dog bed, instead.

Jo explains that 'your lifestyle may also impact your bedding choices for your dog. For example, if you and your dog travel a lot, your dog might feel more secure if you bring along a familiar bed. Dogs tend to feel less stressed when they know where their physical space is, and a dedicated bed can help to define that for them'. 

Headshot of Jo Myers.
Dr. Jo Myers, DVM

Dr. Jo is a registered veterinarian with Vetster, the world's leading veterinary telehealth company, and the only international marketplace connecting pet owners with top-rated veterinary professionals. 

You might assume that orthopedic dog beds are all function, no form, but it is possible to support your pup in style. Some of the best home retailers, and even specialist sleep stores, produce dog beds that integrate effortlessly with the rest of your decor. If you're prepared to splash a little cash, you can take your pick of premium dog beds and crates to suit all sorts of interior designs and pup personalities. 

Should I let my dog sleep in my bed FAQs

When should I start letting my dog sleep in my bed?

I recommend sleeping separately from your pet until your pup is at least a year old, and definitely until they're house-trained. Before you share a bed with your dog, you should teach them basic commands, such as 'up' and 'off', to keep control over your space.

Should I let my dog sleep in my bed if he has fleas?

This is a hard no. If you share a bed with your dog in full knowledge that he has fleas, then you're putting yourself at risk of bites, infection, and irritation. You should settle your dog in a separate bed and pick up a Flea and Tick Topical Treatment, like this one from Target , or from your local drug store. I'd also recommend washing your bed sheets on a warm cycle to bust any remaining pathogens and parasites.

Our verdict

Whether or not to let your dog sleep in your bed is really a matter of personal preference. If you're house-proud and you like to sleep in clean sheets, then you might not want to deal with the muck and mess of co-sleeping with your pet. In that case, you should look to invest in a premium dog bed or crate to keep your pet cozy and comfortable. On the other hand, life is short, and a dog's life is even shorter: if you and your dog are happier sharing a bed, and you're prepared to do those extra loads of laundry, then there's really no reason to sleep separately.

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.