Bed bugs are one of the most feared household invaders. You've probably heard horror stories about people bringing these little bugs home with them after visiting shady motels or being around people with less-than-stellar hygiene.
While it is certainly possible to attract bed bugs from these sources, they're far more common than most people think.
These tiny creatures can be found in even the cleanest establishments.
The problem with the pests is that they're notoriously difficult to get rid of because of their elusive nature and fast reproductive cycle. Once you have an infestation, you're going to have to work hard to get rid of them.
With all of the headaches that bed bugs cause, many dog owners have started to wonder if they can affect their canine companions. When most people think of dogs and pests, their minds automatically go to insects like fleas and ticks.
Bed bugs are very similar to these parasitic pests, so why wouldn't they affect dogs, right?
Can Bed Bugs Bite Dogs?
Bed bugs feed on blood. While it's predominantly human blood they're after, these pests don't discriminate. They can get on your dog's skin and bite them just like they would bite you. This results in itchy spots and discomfort.
Before you start worrying, bed bugs typically leave dogs alone. You see, they have a lot more protection against bites than we do. Your pup is covered in thick fur that creates a layer of protection between the bugs and their skin. Bed bugs can certainly get through that fur, but it's not really worth their time.
Fleas and ticks are physically capable of making their way through dog fur. Bed bugs, on the other hand, are not. As a result, dogs and other fur-covered pets are more of a backup source if anything.
Do Bed Bugs Carry Disease?
If your dog does get bit, the worse thing they'll have to worry about is itchiness and discomfort. Bed bugs aren't known to transmit any diseases to either humans or dogs. Unlike bites from fleas or ticks, you don't have to worry about any serious medical issues arising.
However, you should still treat bites seriously. If your dog scratches the bites hard enough, they may develop skin rashes and infection.
What Do Bed Bug on Dogs Bites Look Like?
Bites from a bed bug can be difficult to spot on dogs. The insects are only less than 5mm in size when they're fully grown.
When they bite your dog's skin, they'll create a tiny red bump. Usually, these pests bite dogs on their belly or legs.
The fur tends to be thinner and softer in those areas, making it easier for them to get through. Bed bugs typically create unique patterns when they bite. Look out for straight lines of red bumps.
Can Bed Bugs Live on Dogs?
While bed bugs usually don't bite dogs, they can certainly use them to find better food. Bed bugs are attracted to warm locations, so they'll have no problem climbing on your dog's body.
If they are capable of reaching your dog's skin and feeding, they could absolutely live on your dog. Though, as we mentioned earlier, this isn't very common. In most cases, they will leave your dog's body to search for food elsewhere.
Can You Get Bed Bugs from Your Dog?
In theory, your home could be exposed to bed bugs by your dog. If your dog is exposed to the pest at any time, whether it's at a hotel room or at someone else's house, they could easily hitch a ride back to your home.
They can get trapped within the fibers of their hair and wait things out. Bed bugs are nocturnal, so they could wait until after your dog is in their cozy bed at home to leave.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Your Dog
In the event that you find some bugs on your dog, you'll be happy to know that they are relatively easy to remove. Because they don't have the biomechanical means to move through hair fibers, they're often found close to the top of the fur. They're also not able to cling onto the fur like fleas are.
You can take a standard flea comb to sift them out. Just make sure to do this outside and properly dispose of the pests to prevent them from invading your home. It's also a good idea to give your pup a bath.
You can use a standard dog shampoo or a gentle flea shampoo. Either way, the bugs should come right out without any issues.
What Are the Signs of a Bed Bug Infestation?
It's not always easy to tell that you have an infestation. In most cases, it's not until a person notices bites on their skin that they become suspicious.
Bed bugs feed at night when you're sleeping.
During the day, they hide around your bed. Some common hiding spots include baseboards, headboards, and side tables.
The best way to spot a beg bug problem is to keep an eye out for anything they leave behind. Examine your bed daily and look for tiny droppings or small bloodstains.
If you see any small exoskeletons, it means that the bugs are near.
If you think that the bugs are affecting your dog, take a look around their bed. They like to hang out close to where they are feeding, so there's a good chance you'll find them crawling around nearby. Lift the bed up and check the floor underneath.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs
Your best bet for dealing with a bed bug infestation is to call a professional exterminator. While sprays and foggers are available, they're not known to be effective.
Foggers aren't capable of penetrating the bug's hiding spots. Sprayers do a slightly better job, but only if you know where they are hiding.
Professionals know where to look at have the tools to address the problem effectively. They'll often use strong chemical sprays to kill the bugs on contact before vacuuming them up.
Some use simple steamers to get the job done. In extreme cases, you may have to get your entire home fumigated.
If you do utilize a chemical pesticide to get rid of the bugs, make sure that your dog is out of the house. The chemicals are very powerful and could affect your dog's health. Keep them out for four to six hours so that the fumes can dissipate.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Invading Your Home
The key to avoiding bed bugs is to be proactive. Before you stay at an unfamiliar place, such as a hotel room, perform a quick inspection.
Look out for droppings, dead bodies, and blood spots. Check the mattress and furniture for any signs. If you find evidence of bed bugs, leave the room immediately.
Even if you leave as soon as possible, there may be bugs in your luggage. To ensure that they don't come home with you, remove your clothing items outside. Then, toss them in the dryer. The heat will kill the bugs off.
While bed bugs are fully capable of biting your dog, most will just leave them alone. It's far easier for the pests to seek you out than dealing with the difficulties of dealing with fur.
In any event, you should address infestations as soon as possible. The longer you leave the problem untreated, the bigger the colony will get.