Dear Doctor: Dogs Uses Human as Furnace


Q. Our 5-year-old Chihuahua/miniature pinscher mix, Ginger, sleeps with us in a king-size bed that has plenty of room, but every night she crawls under the covers and lies against my husband. Could she possibly suffocate? She does love the heat and also enjoys resting beside our wood stove. Thank you for your help.

Terry Glendinning
Coventry, Connecticut

Dear Ms. Glendinning,

A. If Ginger is already 5 and has not suffocated yet, chances are scant to nil that she will, so you needn’t worry. If your husband were an unusually heavy sleeper and Ginger, a puppy who might not have the strength to try to wriggle away as soon as she began to feel uncomfortable (and wake her sleeping owner, who would then move), there could potentially be a problem. But it seems like this duo have it down to a science, and there’s enough air circulating under the blanket to keep her safe.

It’s not at all surprising that your dog likes the warmth and security of sleeping next to your husband. Dogs and people have been comforting each other that way forever. Aborigines in Australia slept with their dogs not only for warmth but also for protection from evil spirits. And the term “three dog night” means it’s very cold out. It’s not clear where the phrase originated, but it used to be that the number of dogs people brought into bed with them to keep warm while sleeping indicated how low the temperature had dipped.


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