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Since the outbreak of COVID-19, pet owners have arrived at shelters across the country in droves, surrendering their pets and leaving shelters with too many pets and not nearly enough resources. Overall economic hardship and social distancing has forced many animal shelters to close their doors permanently, and all over the U.S., thousands of pets sit lonely, lost and confused, wondering what they did wrong and if they will ever find home again.
However, many pets are once again finding home, thanks to a 70% surge in pet adoptions this year alone. As quarantine has stripped us of our family and friends, many people have looked to pets for companionship during these tough times. Even those who frequently travel now find themselves grounded indefinitely, and most people are experiencing more free time than ever than as they shelter in their homes.
It’s hard enough having a new pet, but it can be even harder in the middle of a global pandemic. The spontaneity of the decision to adopt a pet can leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed and nervous, but there is plenty that you can do to make the process more comfortable for everyone.
With everything else going in the world, this guide will help simplify the process of pet-proofing your bedroom with tips on how best to sleep with your pet, if you so choose.
Pros vs. cons of sleeping with your pet
People tend to have some pretty strong opinions when it comes to your pet sleeping with you in bed. There are certainly pros and cons to sharing your bed with your beloved canine and feline pets.
|Pets can make the best cuddle buddies. After a long, tough day, there’s nothing better than the comfort and security that comes from cuddling with a loving pet.||The bigger your pet, the less room there is to spread out. The size of your pet and the number of pets you have will quickly determine how much is leftover in bed for you.|
|You have extra security at night when you’re sleeping.A pet in the bedroom is an extra security measure that can keep you safe and help you sleep better.||Their hair gets everywhere. It’s unavoidable, unfortunately, with pet hair clinging to your blankets, pillows, and clothes.|
|They keep you warm on cold nights. On those freezing winter nights, your pet can be a natural source of heat for extra warmth that snuggles better than a blanket.||You may experience decreased intimacy with your partner. Whether they think it’s playtime or they’re just plain jealous, it is not uncommon for pets to interfere with the intimacy between couples.|
|Pets can be immune boosters for children. Studies show that infants who live with pets are naturally more resistant to infectious respiratory diseases and generally experience better health.||They can make the bed much hotter.The furrier your pet, the higher the temperatures may get – especially if your dog is like my Boston Terrier, who insists on sleeping under the covers.|
|It develops a closer bond between you and your pet.There is no doubt that all of the cuddling and snuggling together makes for a deeper attachment and greater affection with your pet.||Snoring and purring can keep you awake if you’re a light sleeper. What can be soothing and rhythmic for one pet owner can feel like the equivalent of chainsaws for others when trying to sleep. If you wake easily, you could be disrupted by your pet’s snoring.|
No matter which side of the fence you fall on, there is still plenty you can do to make you and your pet more comfortable.
How to pet-proof your room
As the coronavirus rages on, we find ourselves making exemptions to our ordinary routines as we establish a new kind of normal. That may include allowing your pet to sleep in bed with you when, under pre-COVID conditions, that would have been an option.
If you do ultimately decide to let your pet sleep in bed with you, there are some things you can do to pet-proof your bedroom in order to keep you and your pet safe for many nights to come.
- Put your clothes and shoes away.
Many a shoe have fallen victim to a teething puppy, and cats can do some serious damage with their nails, but there are other ways that your shoes and clothes can affect your pet. Lawn chemicals are especially toxic to dogs, and it’s all too easy to track these harmful materials into the bedroom with just your shoes. An easy solution to take off your shoes before you enter the home or keep them in a side room that your pets don’t frequent, such as a laundry room.
- Lock up all medication.
Just like humans, it can be incredibly difficult for your pets to ingest the wrong medication, regardless of whether it is yours or theirs. Label and store all medication separately, and keep them out of reach, such as in your kitchen pantry or inside a cabinet with child locks. VCA Hospitals have some great tips on how to keep your pets safe from medications in the home.
- Secure all charging cords and cables.
If your pet mistakes a charging cable for a chew toy, the consequences could be disastrous. Avoid disaster by pet-proofing your bedroom. Remove as many cords and wires from your room as possible, and unplug anything that is not in use. Many devices today are also available in wireless versions which can help you reduce the number of wires in your room and make your room significantly safer for your pet.
- Keep toiletries out of reach.
Many soaps and cleansers, such as your essential oils and the detergent in your soap, contain harmful materials that can be highly toxic to your pets. Even the fluoride in your toothpaste can be a hazard, so always be sure to secure your toiletries and cosmetics in a secure place that your pet cannot reach.
- Screen your plants.
While a home full of fresh flowers and plants can be beautiful, you could be unwittingly causing a lethal environment for your pet. There are certain household plants that are incredibly dangerous if ingested, so it is crucial that you always screen your plants to make sure they are safe before you bring them into your home.
Before you make your next trip to Home Depot, these are some plants to avoid:
- Lilies – While not all lillies are harmful to dogs, specific types like the Stargazer and Easter Lily can both dogs and cats very sick. Cats are also especially susceptible to the Peace Lily (Mauna Loa).
- Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera may help that sunburn, but it’s a serious irritant for dogs that can damage their digestive system.
- Ivy (Hedera Helix) – Poison Ivy isn’t the only kind of Ivy to avoid, with regular Ivy causing breathing issues and paralysis.
- Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia) – These plants are an easy way to bring a tropical vibe into your home, but they also make your pets extremely sick and can even cause death.
Above is an example of a Dumb Cane plant.
- Add ramps and stairs.
My other dog, a sassy Pomeranian-Papillon mix, has a penchant for taking the leap of freedom from our sky high bed, so our bedroom is marked by an enormous doggie staircase, complete with faux fur steps for extra comfort. Little dogs like my Bella are especially susceptible to spinal and hip issues from the repeated force of jumping off the bed. Adding a set of stairs or a ramp at the end of your bed will go a long way to protect your pets when it’s time to sleep.
- Choose blankets and pillows wisely.
Weighted blankets have been all the craze in recent years, but these heavy blankets can easily trap and suffocate your pets when you’re sleeping. If a pet sleeps with you, be careful what blankets and pillows adorn your bed, because these items of comfort can quickly become weapons for your furry friends.
Tips to make sleeping with your pet safe and comfortable
It may take some work, but it is possible to sleep safely with your pet. You just need to take the right precautions.
These are some tips for a more comfortable and restful sleep with your pet
- Command your corner.
Anyone who sleeps with a pet knows the pains of sharing a cramped space with a pet. For a little dog, Bella manages to take up an unbelievable amount of space, and sometimes, not even an Alaskan King will give me the space I need. It’s important to assert yourself as the dominant party and take control of your space. Make them their own space with a blanket, pillow and even a favorite toy to entice them away from your space while you teach them to stay in their own.
- Create a barrier.
If your pet is less than impressed with the bed you’ve constructed, you could use your pillows and blankets to create natural barriers between you and your pet. Body pillows or pool noodles under your sheets work great to establish and maintain your bed space.
- Invest in a mattress protector.
Even if your pet is potty-trained, accidents can happen from time to time. A mattress protector is relatively cheap to purchase, and it will go a long way in protecting the investment of your mattress.
- Keep extra sheets handy.
It’s always a good idea to have extra sheets on-hand in case of an accident, but you will also want to change your sheets regularly. When a pet sleeps with a toy, there are extra toxins and allergens that are brought into the bed, soiling the sheets far more than you are used to.
- Remove expensive items.
Despite your best efforts, it is very possible that things in your bed can become destroyed from your pet. Things like heirloom quilts, blankets and pillow cases should be removed and stored safely away from your pet.
- Protect each other from allergens.
When you share a bed with your pet, you both will be more susceptible to allergies. Regular baths for your pet will help to remove allergens before bed, and washing your sheets more regularly will help prevent any harmful materials from affecting you or your pet’s health.
Just like politics, sleeping with your pet is somewhat of a controversial issue that can generate strong opinions. At the end of the day, it is a personal decision based on the relationship between you and your pet. The decision to sleep with an Orange Tabby is far different than the decision to sleep with a Great Dane, and depending on the type and size of your pet, you will need to prepare accordingly.
As we continue to fight against coronavirus each day, it’s also important that we protect ourselves at home by properly pet-proofing our space. Our pets are treasured members of our household, but they come with their own needs and requirements, too, and that doesn’t change even in times of crisis.