They’re man’s best friend.
And, according to research, our trusted sleeping partner, too.
Two thirds (62 per cent) of pet owners now share a bed with their cat or dog, a new poll suggests.
The survey of 2,000 people, by sleep brand Silentnight, also discovered that nearly one third do so every single night.
But should we really let sleeping dogs share our beds?
Some two thirds (62 per cent) of pet owners now share a bed with their cat or dog. The survey of 2,000 people by sleep brand Silentnight also found more than three in ten (31%) do so every single night
While exposure to mites from pets can strengthen the immune system, experts say the habit can run the risk of serious infection.
Sharing your bed with your dog increases the chance of them transferring microbes that sit on a dog’s skin, possibly via licking, faeces, or from their fur.
Such bugs can cause conditions including mange or even Lyme disease.
Professor Alejandra Perotti, a mite expert at the school of biological sciences at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘If a dog owner is immunocompromised, or has a weak immune system, even temporarily, then they should not share their bed with a dog.’
Microscopic parasitic mites which live within the hair follicles of all dogs, ‘can be detrimental to an immunocompromised owner’, she said.
These can cause infections to the human’s skin or airways that go on to make them ill.
While ‘there are very few documented cases of dog mites moving to their owners’, she also acknowledged, this is because ‘mites don’t get identified properly’ and are often assumed to be mites that live on humans.
The most prevalent dog mite, demodex canis, has been identified on humans ‘in a handful of cases’, she added. These can cause mange.
Equally, parasites including ticks even fleas are important to consider.
Professor Perotti told MailOnline: ‘Ticks, especially here in UK, are serious vectors of Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria borrelia.
‘A dog owner might take their pet out for a nice walk in a park where deer abound, or the dog visits places with deer.’
She added: ‘Then later at home the ticks from the dog are able to move from dog to humans in the house, if they did not jump already on them during the walk.
‘If you share your bed with your dog, this becomes all too easy for the ticks, and a tick bite could go undetected for hours while the owner sleeps.’
It comes as health chiefs earlier this month warned of a deadly infection spread by ticks that has been discovered in England for the first time ever.
Three cases of tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) in patients were confirmed by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in Yorkshire, Norfolk and on the border of Hampshire and Dorset.
Further tests on ticks across the country have found the disease — which, until now, was commonly found in parts of Europe and Asia — is now widespread in the UK, with experts warning it is ‘unlikely that TBEV will disappear’.
Professor Alejandra Perotti, an associate professor in invertebrate biology at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘If a dog owner is immunocompromised, or has a weak immune system, even temporarily, then they should not share their bed with a dog
Ticks however ‘aren’t the most obvious source of a nasty bite if you share your bed with a dog’, Professor Perotti also noted.
‘Animal behaviour specialists quote horrifying statistics that the most severe dog bites on people occur in the owner’s bed,’ she added.
Many people claim sharing a bed with their dog helps them feel comfortable, relaxed or even more secure when they sleep.
But it can prove disruptive to their sleep patterns.
The research by Silentnight also found over half of pet owners surveyed (51 per cent) regularly sleep on the sofa because their pet is taking up too much space.
Some 94 per cent also wake during the night because of their animal’s tossing and turning.
Hannah Shore, sleep knowledge and research manager at Silentnight said: ‘While cats, dogs and humans have similar sleep patterns, animals tend to cycle through theirs more quickly.
‘This slightly contrasting cycle can result in your pet waking up in the night wanting attention, which can be especially annoying when you’re sharing a bed.’
She added: ‘That’s why it’s important to set out ground rules if you want to avoid being disturbed by your furry friend and reap the benefits of animal bedsharing.’
In 2022, the pet welfare charity Blue Cross also warned against dogs sleeping in bed because it could cause them to overheat, particularly if covered up with a duvet.