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Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs? A Quick Guide to Protecting Your Furry Friend - PawSafe
Dog Healthcare

Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs? A Quick Guide to Protecting Your Furry Friend

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

do bed bugs bite dogs

Bed bugs are a nuisance that no one wants to deal with, but do the pesky bed bugs bite dogs? These tiny, blood-sucking insects can cause itchy, red bites and infestations in homes. But what about our furry friends? 

While primarily associated with infesting human bedding and furniture, these insects have demonstrated their ability to adapt to various environments. So you wouldn’t be too shocked to find them happily moved into your dog’s bed, even if it’s flawlessly clean.

But don’t worry because there are steps to keep those maddening bed bugs from your precious pets. Through professional resources like Maestre’s Bed Bug Book, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide on bed bug bite signs and elimination.

Many people have experienced the  nightmare where you’ve been traveling, and you accidentally bring a nice set of bed bugs home with you. This is because many bed bugs hitch a ride in luggage, furniture, or backpacks from other locations However, most people come equipped with anti-bed bug measures for that situation.

On the other hand, what to do about infestations on our roaming canines may be a whole new fight altogether. Luckily, our dogs have coat armor that bed bugs aren’t too keen on, so canine bed bug bites, while possible, are not nearly as frequent. Nevertheless, bed bugs can be brought into the home by other animals like bats, or just from proximity to other places with bed  bugs, especially in apartments or small dwellings.

While bed bug bites on dogs are not too dangerous, they can be uncomfortable and lead to itching and irritation, which can lead to secondary skin infections. Other bites, like spider bites and bee stings, as covered in our linked articles, are way more dangerous.

The good news is that bed bugs do not transmit diseases to dogs, so the bites are not dangerous. However, they can cause discomfort and itching in dogs like humans. Some dogs may even develop an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, which can lead to more severe symptoms, including blood blisters.

If you suspect that bed bugs have bitten your dog, it’s essential to take action, such as checking their beds for bugs, washing and vacuuming the home, and contacting professional pest control.

Remember, bed bugs are not a sign of poor hygiene or cleanliness. They can infest even the cleanest of homes and can be challenging to eliminate once they have established themselves. If you suspect that you have a bed bug infestation, seek professional help if necessary.

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Understanding Bed Bugs

Bed bugs, or Cimex lectularius, are small, reddish-brown insects that feed on blood. They are known to infest homes, hotels, and other buildings and can be challenging to remove once they have established themselves. While bed bugs are primarily known for biting humans, they can also bite dogs and other pets.

Bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide, so they tend to bite people and pets while they sleep. They typically hide in cracks and crevices during the day, such as in mattresses, bed frames, and furniture. At night, they emerge to feed on their hosts.

Bed bug bites can be itchy and uncomfortable and can cause allergic reactions in some people and pets. Dogs may scratch or lick at the bites, leading to secondary infections.

While bed bugs can bite dogs, they do not live on or infest their fur. Instead, they are more likely to hide in the dog’s bedding or other areas where they sleep.  So bed bugs can bite dogs, but they don’t infest them like other pests such as fleas, ticks, and mites.

Some dogs can be trained to detect bed bugs. Just watch this dog when he finds furniture that contains the insects.

Effects of Bed Bug Bites on Dogs

Bed bugs are known to feed on the blood of mammals, including dogs. Although bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to dogs, their bites can cause a range of health effects, including:

Skin irritation and itching

Bed bug bites can cause redness, swelling, and itching on dogs’ skin. The bites can also cause small, raised bumps on the skin that may be mistaken for flea bites.

Allergic reactions

Some dogs may develop an allergic reaction to bed bug bites, which can cause more severe symptoms, such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, lips, or tongue.

Secondary infections

Scratching and biting at bed bug bites can cause breaks in the skin, which can lead to infections. In severe cases, infections can spread to other body parts and cause serious health problems.

Pet owners need to monitor their dogs for signs of bed bug bites and seek veterinary care if necessary. Treatment may include antihistamines, antibiotics, and topical creams to relieve itching and prevent infections.

How Do I Know if My Dog Has Bed Bugs? Signs of Dog Bed Bugs

Identifying bed bug bites on dogs can be difficult, as the bites can look similar to other insect bites or skin irritations. However, a few signs can help dog owners determine if bed bugs have bitten their furry friends:

  • A series of small, red, itchy skin bumps may be clustered together or spread out over a larger area;
  • Swelling or inflammation;
  • The presence of bed bugs themselves. These tiny, reddish-brown insects can often be found in bedding, furniture, or clothing folds;
  • The Dog scratches or bites at their skin excessively and may also exhibit restlessness or anxiety;
  • Hair loss occasionally happens; and
  • Head shaking.

If you suspect a bed bug has bitten your dog, you can take these immediate steps.

  • Check your dog’s bedding and surrounding areas for signs of bed bugs, such as tiny reddish-brown bugs or dark spots on the sheets. Your dogs possibly already knew there were bed bugs in their bed since studies show that canines have a >95% bed bug detection rate. They, unfortunately, couldn’t tell you.
  • Wash your dog’s bedding and any other fabrics that may have come into contact with bed bugs in hot water and dry on high heat.
  • Vacuum your home thoroughly, paying close attention to areas where your dog spends most of their time.
  • Consider contacting a pest control professional to help eliminate the bed bug infestation.

Preventing Bed Bug Bites on Dogs

Bed bug bites on dogs can cause skin irritation, itching, and discomfort. Fortunately, there are steps that pet owners can take to prevent bed bug bites on their dogs.

The following are some tips to help prevent bed bug bites on dogs:

  • Regularly inspect your dog’s bedding, crate, and other areas where your dog spends time for signs of bed bugs.
  • Wash your dog’s bedding and other items in hot water and dry them on high heat to kill bed bugs and their eggs.
  • Vacuum your home regularly, paying special attention to areas where your dog spends time.
  • If you suspect your dog has been exposed to bed bugs, give them a bath with a pet-friendly shampoo to help remove any bed bugs that may be on their fur.
  • Consider using a bed bug spray or powder that is safe for pets in areas where your dog spends time.
  • If you are traveling with your dog, inspect the hotel room for signs of bed bugs and keep your dog’s belongings off the floor.

By following these tips, pet owners can help prevent bed bug bites on their dogs and keep them comfortable and healthy.

Treatment for Bed Bug Bites on Dogs

If bed bugs have bitten a dog, treating the bites as soon as possible is important. The following are some steps that can be taken to treat bed bug bites on dogs:

Clean the affected area

The first step is to clean where the dog has been bitten. Use mild soap and warm water to clean the area gently. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or products that may irritate the skin.

Apply a cold compress

Applying a cold compress to the affected area can help reduce swelling and itching. Use a clean cloth or towel soaked in cold water, and apply it to the bite for 10-15 minutes.

Use anti-itch cream

Anti-itch creams can help reduce the itching caused by bed bug bites. Be sure to use a safe cream for dogs, and follow the instructions on the packaging.

Consult a veterinarian

If the bites are severe or the dog is showing signs of an allergic reaction, it is essential to consult a veterinarian. They may recommend additional treatments, such as oral antihistamines or steroids.

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Myths and Misconceptions About Bed Bugs

There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding bed bug bites on dogs. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Myth: Bed bugs only bite humans. While bed bugs do prefer human blood, they can and will bite dogs if they are present in the same environment. In fact, bed bugs will bite any warm-blooded animal they can find, including cats, birds, and rodents.
  • Myth: Bed bugs only bite at night. While bed bugs are most active at night due to CO2 production, they can bite anytime if they are hungry and a host is available.
  • Misconception: Bed bug bites on dogs look different than bites on humans. Bed bug bites on dogs and humans look very similar. They typically appear as small, red, itchy bumps or welts that may be arranged in a line or cluster.
  • Misconception: Bed bugs on dogs can’t be detected. Bed bugs on dogs can be detected with a careful inspection of the dog’s fur and skin. Look for live bed bugs or fecal stains. However, remember that bed bugs will only bite and move on and do not live on or infest your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can bed bugs bite dogs and cats?

Yes, bed bugs can bite dogs and cats. Bed bugs feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals, including humans, dogs, and cats.

Can Bed Bugs Lay Eggs on Dogs?

Bed bugs don’t typically lay eggs on a host, so you can rest assured that your dog won’t turn into a breeding ground.

Are bed bugs harmful to dogs?

Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to dogs. However, their bites can cause itching, swelling, and discomfort.

Do bed bugs prefer humans over dogs?

Bed bugs do prefer humans over dogs due to the dog’s thick fur. However, they will feed on any warm-blooded animal that is available.

How do you get rid of bed bugs on a dog?

If your dog has bed bugs, it is vital to take them to a veterinarian. The veterinarian may recommend a medicated shampoo or other treatment to eliminate the bed bugs.

Can dogs bring in bed bugs from outside?

Dogs can bring in bed bugs from outside, especially if they have been in contact with other animals or infested areas. It is crucial to inspect your dog for signs of bed bugs regularly and to keep your home clean and clutter-free.

What do bed bug bites look like?

Bed bug bites can look like small, red, itchy bumps. They may appear in a line or cluster and can be found anywhere on the body.

Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases to dogs. However, their bites can cause itching, swelling, and discomfort.

Final Thoughts

Bed bugs can bite dogs just like they can bite humans. However, dogs are not their preferred host and are less likely to be bitten than humans. Prevention is key when it comes to bed bugs. Regularly inspect your home and your dog’s bedding. A bed bug spray or powder specifically designed for pets can also help.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.