An estimated 60% of people consider dogs to be a member of their family, according to one survey. And about half of dog owners allow their furry relatives to hop in bed with them — number that has likely grown during the COVID-19 pandemic as people seek comfort and cuddling.
"I have a hard time finding somebody that doesn't sleep with their dog," said veterinarian Dr. Michelle Martinez, who sleeps next to her Yorkshire Terrier, Dexter. She said there are scientific benefits to the practice.
"Oxytocin is a good enzyme hormone that comes out when people are cuddling their dogs," Martinez said. "It causes a sense of relaxation and calmness. Decrease in depression and loneliness, insomnia."
Actress Siercia O'brien adopted her pug, Bacon, about a month ago so she'd have a quarantine companion at her apartment in Brooklyn.
"Having Bacon sleep with me every night has helped my anxiety and really helped me get through this pandemic, " O'brien said. "He just makes me feel so safe and comfortable."
Elaine and Danny Le said sleeping with their Husky, Gatsby, provides a sense of calm and security.
"He's like our protector at night when we're sleeping," they said. "Watches over us basically."
But is all this safe? There's no evidence that humans can contract coronavirus from dogs, but Martinez said you want to ensure your dog is healthy.
"The last thing you want to do is sleep with a dog that fleas or ticks," she said. She also recommended wiping down their paws after every walk and once before bedtime.