On a scale of 0 to 10, bed bugs come in at a 10+ on the "Yewh!" scale of disgusting things. Anyone who has ever suffered from a bed bug infestation in the house will know just how miserable life is when your bed isn't your own. These creepy critters are tough, very tough, and no pushover to get rid of. Which raises the interesting question about the role your pets might play in a bed bug infestation.
Can Dogs Get Bed Bugs?
The simple answer is "No". The bed bug Cimex lectularius has a penchant for people above all other species. These guys are crawlers and like the easy pickings to be had from hairless human skin. Bed bugs aren't a fan of burrowing and to them, a hairy dog might as well be wearing a coat of armor.
That said, if your home is bed bug central and the mattresses are already sublet to other bed bugs, then their pals may move out and look for other lodgings such as the dog's bed. That said, the dog could be justified in blaming you for the infestation rather than you pointing an accusing finger in their direction.
Does My Dog Have Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs feed on human blood and like to feast at night. The first you tend to know of a bed bug problem is you wake in the morning covered with itchy red skin lumps. On first inspection, these can appear similar to flea bites and cause confusion about the source of the outbreak.
Your first clue the dog has bed bugs is going to be that you have an extremely uncomfortable itchy problem. Again, at a pinch the bed bugs might hitch a lift on the dog and make it to their blanket, but it's unlikely the dog will get a full on itchy infestation.
If your dog is itchy and can't stop scratching, it's far more likely there is another explanation such as:
Should the skin be broken or inflamed, it's essential to get the dog checked by a vet. They will perform diagnostic tests such as skin scrapes, coat brushings, or a biopsy in order to reach a diagnosis.
The treatment depends on the specific condition but is likely to include anti-parasite products or anti-inflammatory medications.
How Do I Treat my Dog's Bed Bugs?
If your dog is itchy, then bed bugs are unlikely to be the cause. However, if you have lots of bites and have seen evidence of bed bug poop on your bedding, then you may pose a risk to the dog.
Bed bugs are tough parasites and not all insecticides will kill them. The average bug bombs sold for flea control in the home are usually ineffective against bed bugs. Always read the packaging or container to see if bed bugs are specifically mentioned. If they are not, then assume the product is not effective.
A useful resource is the Environmental Protection Agency's product checker , which will tell you what works and what doesn't against bed bugs. Treat the mattresses and human bedding. Wash your dog's bed and blankets, and treat their bed but ventilate it well before allowing the dog to use it again.
How Are Bed Bugs Similar in Dogs and People?
Bed bugs rarely feed off dogs, but should they bite, itchiness is the likely result. In the same way that flea saliva acts as a potent allergen, so a bed bug's bite can sensitize the immune system and result in an itchy allergic reaction.
How Are Bed Bugs Different in Dogs and People?
Bed bugs like an easy life and the soft picking to be had on people. Burrowing through dog fur is too much like hard work and so it's only the most hard pressed bed bug that will feed off a dog.
Rover sleeps with his master, who recently developed an irritating skin rash. Rover's owner decided Rover must have fleas and applied a product licensed to kill these parasites. However, the product seemed to be ineffective as Rover's owner remained tormented by itchy bites.
To the owner's horror, one night he switches on the light to catch a glimpse of bed bugs scurrying for the darkness of the sheets. The problem was bed bugs, not fleas.
Exterminators were called in and two treatments later, the bed bugs were gone. Happily, Rover remained bug and flea free throughout and was magnanimous in accepting his owner's apology over blaming the dog in the first place.