Bed bug infestations have been on the rise and, let's be frank, the idea of bugs that crawl on you and suck your blood at night is super duper creepy. Almost worse is how hard it is to get rid of them. So it's very natural to ask how these bugs can affect the whole family, including your dog. Almost more importantly — who in your family can bring them into your home? Is your dog a bed bug carrier, and do bed bugs even bite dogs? The answer is more complex than a simple yes/no.
Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs?
Bed bugs reproduce like crazy, so it's surprising that they'd be picky eaters, but humans are their absolute favorite meal. If there aren't any humans around, bed bugs won't miss an opportunity to grab a quick snack from your dog, though. But they don't live on dogs the way fleas do. When they're done snacking, bed bugs go back to their hideout until it's time to eat again.
How Can I Tell If My Dog's Been Bitten?
Bed bugs are elusive and more likely to be felt than seen. Look for scratching, redness, or swelling, which might be mistaken for flea or tick bites. Monitor your dog for unusual scratching and skin irritation, and if you observe these signs without evidence of fleas or ticks, consider bed bugs as a possible cause.
If you think your dog has a bed bug bite, reach out to your veterinarian to see if they're the culprit. Keep in mind that regular flea and tick prevention will not deter bed bugs.
Do Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs don't really like your dog's blood. They’re also not the cling-on kind, even on their preferred host — AKA us — so the chances of you actually catching one on your pup are pretty slim. That said, they may hitch a ride on your dog's bed, blankets or carrier. We are paranoid about bed bugs in our house, so when we travel, we check the room before we get settled.
If you stay in a pet-friendly hotel for the night and bring along your dog's snuggly blanket, you'll want to wash it well as soon as you get home. Fortunately, many hotel chains are fairly clean and do a good job of keeping these pests away. But it's always better to be safe than sorry.
How Can I Prevent Bed Bugs on My Dog?
Bed bugs don't live in your yard or on the streets the ways fleas and ticks do, so dogs are more likely to have a bed bug latch on while they're at home. The best way to prevent them from hopping on the dog train is to be proactive. Even though anyone can get bed bugs, this is particularly important if you have a lot of foot traffic going in and out of your house.
Check the House Regularly
Check areas where bed bugs may hide, like mattress seams, bed frames, furniture, behind baseboards, and in cracks and crevices.
A vacuum cleaner with a hose will suck up any bugs or eggs that might lurk in your carpets, rugs, and furniture. Dispose of the vacuum bag immediately in the trash bin outside.
Protect Your Bed
Invest in a good-quality, bed bug-proof mattress encasement to keep these pesky critters away and check it regularly.
Bed bugs love clutter. It gives them tons of space to camp out while they wait for the night to come. If you have any areas that are super full, try to rearrange.
Wash and Dry After Travel
After traveling, immediately wash all clothing and fabric items in hot water and dry on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes.
Caution at the Laundromat
When using communal laundry spaces, transport items in plastic bags and fold clothing at home.
Wash Your Dog's Bedding
Regularly wash pet bedding in hot water and dry on high heat to kill any potential bed bugs.
Do Bed Bugs Transmit Disease?
Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases. They only feed on blood, which means they must be near the host, like a person or dog sleeping in bed, in order to bite them. Since they don't travel far, this makes it difficult for them to spread disease from one human or animal host to another. Although it's theoretically possible, it's unlikely for your dog to contract a disease from a bed bug bite.
Despite not carrying disease, they can bother your dog with itchy bites that might cause allergies or even anemia, making them uncomfortable and affecting their sleep. Getting rid of bed bugs is also tough, so inspecting regularly to catch an infestation early is your best bet.
Are Dogs Allergic to Bed Bugs?
Allergies can be a little tricky, but don't worry. They're still uncomfortable, but your dog's allergic reactions to bed bugs are usually not as bad as they seem. There are two types of reactions you should know:
Immediate reactions include itching, inflammation, or swelling at the site of exposure.
Delayed reactions include skin lesions and hair loss that can last for months after exposure.
Dogs can have both kinds of reactions when they're exposed to bed bugs. Most dogs don't have an immediate reaction to bed bug bites because their immune system doesn't immediately see the bug as an invader.
If your dog has redness or swelling around the bite site, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get it checked out.
Take Care of the Problem
If bed bugs have taken up some serious real estate in your house, you'll need to call a professional exterminator to get these guys evicted. I get it, having to deal with this isn't exactly easy on the wallet or your schedule, but hey, it's pretty important for keeping both you and your furry buddy from getting bitten — not to mention any other pets you might have roaming around. Plus, if you're anything like me and just the thought of bed bugs sends shivers down your spine, getting rid of them is worth every penny for that sweet, sweet peace of mind!