There's nothing better than curling up in bed with a warm, furry pet. Whether it's a new puppy or the family cat of many years, it's not uncommon for our pets to snuggle in at bedtime. But should they?

The Risks of Pets in Your Bed

According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleeping with your pet can put you at risk for some rare, but dangerous diseases. These include viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections. In fact, if your pet is suffering from fleas or some other parasite, it's best to give your pet his own place to sleep. However, the risks are low, particularly if your pet is healthy. And cuddling with your pet can actually help the two of your bond.

But do you really want to share the bed with a cat or dog who tracks in muddy paw prints or skin-biting fleas?

Danel Grimmett, DVM, from the Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Oklahoma, weighed in on the debate. "Owners should always provide adequate parasite control for their pets. Tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can be transmitted to humans as a result of tick bites," Dr. Grimmett said in an interview with Petcentric. "Working with your family veterinarian to properly vaccinate and protect your pet is the best way to protect yourself, whether your pet sleeps with you or not."

Do What's Right for You

Every pet owner needs to decide what's right for him or her. Dr. Grimmett reminds pet owners to consider whether or not the pet is free of parasites, properly vaccinated, or has any behavioral problems. "If the pet does display behavioral problems, an animal behaviorist should be consulted. Allowing a pet to sleep with its owner can potentially compound behavior problems," Dr. Grimmett added.

Another factor to consider is whether anyone in the bed has allergies to fur, dander or dust. If so, it might be wise to invest in a pet bed or two for the bedroom. The pet behaviorist for Purina confirmed it's really a matter of personal choice, but common sense and hygiene should always prevail.

Each night, around 10 p.m., my Weimaraner reminds me it's time for bed. With a gentle nudge from her snout, we head upstairs to the bedroom. Most nights, she and my bull terrier mix get cozy in their orthopedic dog beds. But on really chilly nights, 180 pounds of dog jump into bed with me and my husband. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Is your pet sleeping in bed with you tonight? Tell us why or why not in the comments!