When it comes to sharing the bed, sometimes pets can get in the way of couples. Jill and Ray have been dating for five years, during which Ray’s spent many a night pouting about having to sleep with Jill’s cat Mona. His problem? Too much cat hair in the bed for one, she says.
“Ray also says Mona gets more affection than he does. But of course, that’s not true,” she said. Fortunately for Jill and Ray, the problem is not bad enough to end their relationship. But for others with cats and dogs, it can be.
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“Dogs are so important to their owners that they can make or break a relationship,” said Gail Miller, spokesperson for the American Kennel Club (AKC). She and others agree that power struggles and love triangles can develop when people who are used to sleeping with their dogs (which, according to AKC research, is 21 percent of owners) bring somebody new into the picture.
“Many lovers’ spats and break-ups originate with the hurt feelings of a dog denied its usual sleeping place,” said John Rappaport, DVM, in Boca Raton, Fla. All of this begs the question:
Is it OK to sleep with your new love interest’s pet, and, if so, how and when?
Should you or shouldn’t you?
There are different schools of thought regarding whether or not it’s good for people, in general, to sleep with their pets – something women (25 percent) are more likely to do than men (16 percent), reports the AKC. For one, it can disrupt sleep. According to The Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, half of their patients with pets say their animals wake them during the night. Also, there’s a good chance that if you’re dating someone with a dog, in particular, you’ll wind up sharing some sleep time with them. That’s because dogs sleep about 12 hours a day. And while sleeping with a cat is based purely on individual preference, some vets believe sleeping with a dog isn’t always the best idea.
“If a dominant and controlling dog doesn’t like the way somebody turns or moves in bed, it could injure them,” said Susan Krebsbach, DVM, a veterinary animal behavior consultant in Oregon, Wis. “As long as you know (his or her) dog doesn’t have any of these issues, sleeping with it is perfectly OK.” Some experts believe sleeping with your partner’s pet might actually be good for you.
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Research has shown that just spending time with a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce minor health problems and improve psychological well-being.
Easing the transition