Sleeping with your dog (or choosing not to do so) fuels heated discussions among pet owners. I live in a big, dirty, grimy city, and never, in a million years, would I lie down on the sidewalk outside of my apartment. I wouldn’t lie down at bus stations, in the dirt along the side of the road, at the dog park or in the parking lot that borders the south edge of my complex. Doing so would be disgusting! And yet, every night, I let my dog climb up into bed with me after she’s tread all these areas barefoot.

Is sleeping with your dog disgusting–or worse, unhealthy? You might be surprised to learn that there aren’t any significant health consequences to sleeping with man’s best friend by your side. However, there are a few pros and cons that every pet owner should consider before making this lifestyle choice.

Cons of Sleeping with Your Dog

For people who suffer from allergies of all kinds, allowing your dog into bed with you can be a trigger for health problems. Whether you’re allergic to your pet’s dander, pollen that clings to your dog after a walk outside, or dust mites that might inhabit your pet’s fur, allergies and pets are often a bad combination.

Another con of allowing your furbaby into bed with you is that your pet may not understand the difference between your bed and other comfy furniture. Once you allow your dog to sleep with you, you will have opened up the boundaries within your home. After you’ve done so even once, Fido will have learned that this kind of cuddling is allowed–therefore, he’ll become confused, stressed and anxious if you decide to change your mind later.

Pros of Sleeping with Your Dog

For me, the benefits of letting my dog sleep in my bed far outweigh the cons. Sleeping with your dog has physical benefits, in that it reduces stress and anxiety for both the pet and the owner. Cuddling with a dog–or a baby, spouse, etc.–releases oxytocin, which bonds you with the other party, reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. This well-known chemical reaction is part of the reason why interaction with canines is a common form of therapy.

The final benefit of sleeping with your dog is far less selfish than the other reasons: your dog will probably enjoy sleeping in bed with you. Dogs rely on their sense of smell to interpret the world, so an object that smells like “their human” is comforting and pleasing to canines (this explains why distressed dogs often chew up their owners’ shoes, underwear, etc). Your pup will thank you!

Do you let your dog sleep in bed with you?