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Study: Sleeping With Pets Could Have Positive Health Benefits

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Sharing your sheets with your dog or cat may be a good thing, a new study suggests. Some experts say you may still want to consider alternate arrangements.

Dayle Fragin has a soft spot for dogs.

Not just in her heart, but also on her bed.

"You can see it's their house," she said as she welcomed CBS4's Lauren Pastrana to her North Miami Beach home. "It's their home. They're second chance dogs. I feel they need to feel comfort for the rest of their life."

Dayle, a full-time volunteer at the Humane Society of Great Miami, shares her bed with six dogs— schnauzers Muffin, Onyx, Minnie, Fred, and Heidi, and a mix named Carly.

"One moves, the other comes in, I never know who's on top of me, next to me. We rotate. On the bed, on top of the bed. Wherever we fit," she said.

Dayle's not alone.

CBS4 viewers sent us dozens of photos of their pets snuggled up under the covers.

"I just adore them. They show you so much love, companionship, friendship, anything in the world anyone could ask for," Dayle said.

Sleep experts have long thought that pets in the bedroom are disruptive to a person's sleep, but a recent Mayo Clinic survey found 41 percent of patients who share their beds with their animals find it beneficial.

Some say it helps them relax and gives a sense of security.

But 20 percent of respondents admitted their pets interrupted their sleep.

"Currently, the pets are not allowed in the bedroom. We have dogs and cats. They aren't allowed back where the bedrooms are," said Dr. Sarah Evans.

Dr. Evans with Miami Veterinary Services says sleeping with Sparky could have negative health effects.

"Allergies for one," she said. "Then you get in to the fleas, and the ticks and the bugs and bacteria that are on dogs. They're dirty."

Dr. Evans says if your pets do sleep on your bed, you should be sure to wash your sheets frequently. Dayle says she washes hers multiple times a week.

As a board certified surgeon, Dr. Evans also encourages you to take precautions to make sure your pets don't get hurt.

"The jumping on and off of the bed is really bad for the neck, the spine, the elbows, the shoulders," Dr. Evans said. "A ramp for them to get on and off the bed I think is great. And having some times throughout the day or night where the bed is restricted. So it's not free. So they know there are some boundaries."

Certified trainer and animal behavior consultant Rose Lesniak says you do have to be careful.

"My grandmother rolled over and killed her Chihuahua in bed," she said.

But that experience doesn't mean she thinks dogs shouldn't sleep in bed with their owners.

"I think whatever people want their dogs to do, they should do. I don't believe it ruins the dog to have the dogs in bed. The whole notion comes out that long ago people did not even connect with their animals, they were working animals," Lesniak said.

For Dayle, her dogs are her babies, and they're not going anywhere anytime soon.

When asked what she would do if she was told her dogs could no longer sleep on the bed, she said "I have to sleep on the floor with them."

Dr. Evans says it's perfectly fine for pets to sleep on the floor, and she says pet beds are a great option if you think your furry friend will feel more comfortable.

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