Sleeping Under The Covers Won’t Suffocate Your Dog

Sleeping Under The Covers Won’t Suffocate Your Dog

Should your dog sleep in bed with you? It’s a contentious question. Even a small dog can take up a lot of bed space, and some trainers will say that having your dog sleep in a crate or in their own bed sets an important boundary that helps their behaviour. But on the other hand: the snuggles.

Photo: Jaime Green

My dog usually sleeps in a crate, but when he does sleep in bed, he loves to do so fully under the covers. It’s incredibly cute, but nighttime is perfect for irrational worries and mine became: What if he suffocates? (A quick spin through Google indicates that I am far from the only dog owner who’s stressed themselves out about this.)

I asked veterinarian and author Emma Milne if I needed to worry about this. She said:

I don’t think it is a problem at all. If a dog went under the covers and the covers were too restrictive the dog would move or even struggle to get out. It would be clear that the dog was uncomfortable. It’s incredibly unlikely that a dog could get suffocated. The only exception would be very small dogs with heavy sleeping owners or young puppies that were not strong enough to get out if they got trapped.

I was relieved, but also couldn’t help thinking about my sleeping dog like a drunk person who might not know he was in trouble until it was too late. Dr. Mile assured me, “As soon as an animal feels restrained or restricted at all they panic. It’s one reason we try to encourage people not to hug dogs. They hate it. So yes they would move immediately.”

And it’s true, my dog does hate hugs! But he loves sleeping under the covers, so we’re all set.


  • This article can really only be useful to owners of small dogs if you can advise what the vet Emma Milne classifies a ‘very small dog’. I have rescue Chihuahuas and this issue has worried me also. I saw the photo of what I consider a ‘very small’ dog in the photo for the article, and consider my Chis ‘very small’ as they’re around 2.5kg upwards. The advice in your article from this vet is “The only exception would be very small dogs” and this has given you peace of mind, but I’m not sure if your dog is the one in the photo for the article and what exact size that dog is anyway, or if you have a larger dog…. Can you please clarify what size and weight a ‘very small’ dog that could be at risk of being smothered is? Thanks. 🙂

  • I’ve waited 2 months hoping for an answer to my question “Can you please clarify what size and weight a ‘very small’ dog that could be at risk of being smothered is?” but no response at all. 🙁

    As you can see this is very important to me so I’ve been patient but am now following up because I believe 2 months is more than enough time for the author to see my comment and respond.

    This article was written just over 5 months ago – not sure why I can’t get any kind of response as it’s not like it was years and years ago so a current reader may not expect a response to such an old article… But most importantly as you can see a response would make this article actually helpful to owners of very small dogs! Does anyone monitor these posts and comments?

    Guess I’ll have to follow up Emma Milne myself to ask my question re her advice that was given here but not qualified re size of dog, if I can get in contact with her that is. And if I do I’ll ask her to include the further information in this article.

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