anne_mikolay_120A recent survey has revealed 60% of American households have a pet, and up to 62% of these pet owners allow their pets to sleep in their beds. According to USA Today, animal-human disease experts now believe that animal slumber companions can spread bubonic plague, chagas disease (which causes life-threatening heart and digestive disorders), and cat-scratch disease (which results from being licked by an infected feline). Thus, animal experts warn sleeping with pets can be dangerous.

Should pet owners be concerned with these findings? Of course. Should we be alarmed,  remove our pets from our beds, and race to buy new crates and pillows for our dogs and cats? Nah!

In our household, we have two dogs: a tiny chihuahua and a not-so-tiny chihuahua. The not-so-tiny pup sleeps in his crate; the wee one sleeps at the bottom of my bed. Sometimes, when cold or scared during the night, the little dog settles between my husband and me. We don't mind at all.

While I am aware that dogs need their own space, or their own “room,” aka crate, there's no denying that cuddling a dog or cat elicits comfort, contentment, and happiness. Though I do not routinely dress my small dogs in doggy clothes, I am admittedly a “dog nut.” One might say I fancy myself as Dr. Doolittle and talk to the animals, especially the “teacup” dog breeds. I wrap my small chihuahua in blankets when she is cold, bring her dinner to her when she can't make it down the stairs on her own, and nightly fluff the comforter at the bottom of my bed for her. Rescued from a puppy mill, she is a timid, easily frightened dog, and suffers from epilepsy. To ensure her safety, comfort, and health, I want her near me during the night. On the other hand, our second dog has never known abuse or imprisonment and is confident and content sleeping in his crate. Thus, I have no qualms leaving him there.

Every dog is different with different needs, as is every owner. While some people would never dream of wrapping a dog in a blanket or allowing it access to their bed, if a pet receives routine health care, is clean, vaccinated, and free of flees and parasites, why not snuggle with it once in a while? Consider it a bonding experience; a good snuggle might be good for pet and owner alike. Quite frankly, if more people cuddled their dogs and cats more often, the world would be a much gentler place.