Bed bugs will feed on any animal or human. Their goal is to draw blood to survive. They do, however, prefer human blood over an animal. Yes, bed bugs can bite dogs but they do not favor attacking the pet. Bed bugs can crawl and create a nest in the pet’s bed if they please.
You can identify a bed bug bite on your dog by searching for small red bumps, similar to the ones you can find on your body. Finding a bed bug bite (or any bite) on your dog can be difficult depending on the length of their fur. If you begin noticing your dog scratching themselves more than usual and in a particular spot, you should check the area to make sure they have not developed a rash.
Bed bugs are not harmful to pets, but a rash can become very cumbersome for your dog. Continuous irritability and licking are good signs that a pest has bitten your pet, but in general, the bites are harmless.
So, can my dog get bed bugs?
No, dogs cannot “get” bed bugs. Understanding Mr.Scruggles isn’t infested with bed bugs requires a bit of knowledge about the preferred lifestyle choices of bed bugs. Cimex Lectularius, are ectoparasites, meaning they are parasites that live on the outside of the host’s body, not the inside. Other fun examples of ectoparasites often found on our canine companions are fleas and ticks. However, bed bugs are not like fleas or ticks, they don’t infest the host. They are a unique -and quite particular- type of ectoparasite. They differ from other blood-sucking nuisances because they don’t live upon a host, they actually live away from a host’s body.
They just prefer to go out for dinner rather than stay in to cook.
What that means for you is that if your dog has been bitten by a bed bug, the biting nuisance is long gone, it’s not setting up camp for the night on Mr. Scruggles back. The unwanted dinner guest has packed up and left. Because bed bugs, not surprisingly, don’t stick around to help do the dishes.
How can I tell if my dog has bed bug bites?
Signs that your dog is suffering from bed bug bites are similar too flea bites. So much so, that, according to National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA) 2018 Bugs Without Borders Survey 71% of calls made to pest-control specialists regarding a suspected flea infestation, turn out to be a bed bug infestation. Why? Possibly because a common symptom of flea bites is also a common symptom for bed bug bites: itchiness and scratching. If your furry friend is spending more time scratching behind his ear than staring at you with resentment while you eat, that could be a sign you have an unwanted houseguest living with you.
Differentiating between bed bug’s and flea bites can be tricky as both types cause very similar symptoms: scratching and itchiness, small bite marks, red, irritated skin. According to Terminix, a pest control company operating globally for over 90 years, useful tips to identify bed bug bites are:
- Bed bug bites appear as raised, flat red welts due to an allergic reaction to the anesthesia and anticoagulants found in the bug’s saliva.
- Bed bug bites often appear in a straight row or line, consisting of three or four bites, though this is not always the case.
- Bed bug bites can take a few days or even a week to show up. They gradually begin to itch more as well, since the anesthetic from their saliva starts to wear off.
So, how is that different from flea bites? Well, as per Terminix’s, “How to tell if you have Bed Bugs or Flea’s” blog post, flea bites present differently than bed bug bites, those symptoms of flea bites include:
- Flea bites resemble a cluster of mosquito bites. They are usually randomly placed and often appear as dots with a dark red center from the single puncture bite of the flea’s specially built mouth, allowing it to suck blood.
- A flea wheal (red bump) becomes swollen less than an hour after the bite. It starts to itch immediately and persistently. The bite can turn into an open sore or blister in one to two days.
When determining what has bitten your dog, keep in mind the most essential character of bed bugs: they are a people pest, not a canine pest. They will bite dogs if necessary, but people are the optimal choice of bed bugs for a midnight blood-meal. So, if you suspect Mr. Scruggles is suffering from bed bug bites, chances are you and the other people in your house are feeling a bit itchy too.
How do I treat my dog for bed bug bites?
To provide your furry friend relief from bed bug bite irritation, talk to your veterinarian. It won’t be the first time they’ve been asked about bed bug bite treatment for pets in recent years; bed bugs have become a severe nuisance in North American urban hubs, like Vancouver. Likely, your vet will recommend a topical ointment to alleviate discomfort caused by bed bug bites. Treatment of bed bug bites is important for your pet’s health to prevent potential infections caused by excessive scratching and biting of the affected areas.
Remember, treating your animal for bed bug bites will only ease the discomfort of your pet due to bed bug bites, it will not eliminate the tiny vampires from your home. To prevent further bites the pest’s need to be exterminated.
Can bed bugs live in my dog’s bed?
Yes. Bed bugs can live in your dog’s bed, as well as almost any of your pet’s other belongings. They are exceptional at finding tiny, awkward nooks, including screw-fix holes, to call home. If you suspect an extended family of bed bugs is living in Poochie’s favorite pillow, the item needs to be treated. As per Michael F. Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky, “simply place bedding, clothing, toys, shoes, backpacks, etc., in a clothes dryer set at medium-to-high heat for 10 to 20 minutes.” For items that cannot safely be laundered, either hire a professional for help or consider replacing things that are not costly, such as toys.
When dogs get and itch is a thing, when we humans get one is a completely different thing. Especially when we find out they are bed bugs bites! Learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat bed bugs in our complete guide to definitively get rid of bed bugs.