Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

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Ugh, bedbugs! Even if you've never had them, you've heard of them, and you know they're downright menaces. These tiny, little creatures make homes in your furniture, mattresses, headboards, and even your doggo's bed, and then they terrorize your home endlessly until you've gotten every, single, tiny one out! 

There are lots of ways to get bedbugs in your house, but did you know that your dog can actually carry them, as well? Because bedbugs are pesky little things, they can attach to your pup when they're out and about and come back with them and infest your home. 

Is this likely? Not overly, but it's certainly possible. Giving your dog a routine once-over, as well as checking for specific signs that he might be carrying or being bitten by bedbugs can save your home, and your poor pup, a ton of trouble. 

Check out our guide below for a few tell-tail signs that your dog might be carrying bedbugs or is getting bit by them, ways you can train your dog to get used to the routine bedbug check, and how you can combat bedbugs in your home!

Signs Your Dog is Carrying Bedbugs

Because bedbugs feed off blood, it's always possible that your poor pooch is getting bitten by these treacherous little things. If your home is infested with bugs - whether brought in by your dog or not - there are several signs your dog is probably giving you to let you know he's being fed on. 

If your poor pup is itching a ton, that's your first dead giveaway that something isn't right. Sure, dogs scratch, but probably not at the rate your pooch is when a few hundred bedbugs are biting on its little dog-butt. 

If your dog starts to develop welts or red lesions on their skin, that's also a good indicator that some kind of bug is eating them up. Look out for rashes, hives, blisters, and other irritability on your pet's skin. It's also a possibility bedbugs are biting your pup if they're losing a large amount of fur, have patchy hair, or are shedding an inordinate amount. 

Luckily, bedbugs won't give your dog any kind of serious disease. They will, however, be a huge discomfort and annoyance for them, and we're sure that's the last thing you want for your pride-and-joy pup. 

Body Language

Here are some body language cues to look out for if you think your dog might be being bitten by bedbugs:
  • Whining
  • Shake off
  • Scratching
  • Nipping
  • Whimpering
  • Back hair on edge
  • Twitching whiskers

Other Signs

Looking for more signs? If your dog is being bit-up by bedbugs, it's possible that they're experiencing things like:
  • Allergic Dermatitis
  • Red or Brown Stains on Your Pet's Bedding
  • Excessive Scratching, Itching, or Nipping at Skin
  • Red or Pink Blisters
  • Hives
  • Welts
  • Bald Patches
  • Inordinate Amounts of Shedding

Historic Causes of Bedbugs

It's thought that we originally caught bedbugs from caves in the Middle East, back in the year 400 BC - or maybe even earlier. Since that time, they have fed off of us and our animal roommates without relent!

Bedbugs are devilish, little things that have a knack for hitchhiking. It isn't surprising that there are accounts of infestations starting from bedbugs climbing onto your pup's bedding or his fur, nestling in, and then making themselves at home in your house! 

They won't typically live on your dog's fur permanently, but they will definitely use it as a canine taxi service to get where they want to go. But that's not all, they can hop on your pant legs, slip into your suitcase, or even pack themselves away in your purse, all with the intent to make a nice little home where you and your pooch rest your head. Once they're infested and established, they get deep into the nooks and crannies of your home, which can make them super-difficult to eradicate!

The Science of Bedbugs and Dogs

Let's get right into - if you've never experienced bedbugs before, you're probably wondering what they are, how they can affect your doggo, and why they're such a big deal. 

Bedbugs are, for lack of a better term, sort of gross. But more than that, they're annoying and hard to get rid of. Bedbugs are from the Cimicidae family of insects, of course. There are a bunch of species, only two of which are associated with humans. 

These little bedbugs are exactly that - little! They grow to about 1-7 mm in size, they're brownish-red, and they're wingless little pests that feed off of blood. They're called bedbugs because they make their infestation sites in places where people and animals sleep and they are mostly active at night. 

Females will find crevices in your mattress or your doggo's bed and lay eggs. Then, these will hatch into nymphs, become adults, and produce more eggs. If left alone, the process will repeat endlessly every 8-10 days - in short, they're basically a plague. Unfortunately, they'll either want to feed on you or your pup, so exterminating them is crucial!

How to Train Your Dog to Deal With Bedbug Prevention

First things first, your dog should be trained to be comfy with the vet for all circumstances. If your pup is infested with bedbugs, you better believe a trip to the dog-tor is in order. 

Although doggos can't get any serious diseases from bedbugs, having them can be a nuisance and a huge irritant for your pup, leaving marks and welts all over their bodies! Surely, you'll want that taken care of right away. Help your dog to associate the vet with a positive experience by offering them lots of treats and love for being a good sport. 

It's possible that your vet will give your dog medicine to deal with the itchiness while you eradicate the bedbugs. If that's the case, make sure your dog is trained to take pills. Teach your dog a fun throw-and-catch game to get them to take his medicine, teach them to eat it with their food, or train them to simply take it out of your hand - whichever way works to get them to take their puppy pills. 

Additionally, make sure your dog is comfy with a routine check for pests. Teach them "sit" and "stay" while you inspect them for any bug infestations. Make sure you give them lots of treats after they've done well!

How to React If Your Dog Has Bedbugs

  • Talk to your vet immediately!
  • Sterilize your dog's collars and leashes or get new ones.
  • Sterilize your dog's toys or get new toys.
  • Sterilize your dog's bedding or get new bedding.
  • Discuss medications with your vet to reduce your pet's discomfort while the bedbugs are eradicated.
  • Eradicate the issue in your own home.

We Want to Hear About Your Dog's Battle With Bedbugs!