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Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs? Vet-Approved Facts & Advice

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

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Vet approved

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Bed bugs are a seemingly human-exclusive parasite. However, they can annoy and bother other species, including dogs. However, bed bugs have evolved next to people, so they have developed traits that make them prefer humans to other animals. For instance, they cannot move very quickly through fur and hair, making it difficult for them to move on the dog’s fur.

If you’re dealing with an infestation, though, it is relatively easy for bed bugs to find their way onto your dog – even if they don’t like living there quite as much. They can re-introduce the bed bugs even after you’ve removed them from your home.

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Can a Dog Get Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can live in the environment and feed on pets by sucking blood. However, it is extremely rare. Bed bugs prefer to feed on people and will whenever they get the chance. Typically, they don’t end up on dogs for this reason. They can’t feed on them as efficiently as they can on people. If the infestation is bad enough, they can accidentally end up on a dog in a significant enough number for the dog to become infected.

In many cases, dogs only become infected when the bed bugs are overcrowded, which only happens with a severe infestation. Humans are the primary food source. Bed bugs only attach themselves to dogs when they have no other options. In other words, bed bugs can technically infect a dog, but this is a rare occurrence.

english cocker spaniel on bed
Image Credit: Adriana Morales, Pixabay

How Do You Treat a Dog for Bed Bugs?

Typically, bed bugs won’t spend time on dogs like fleas. They live on the bedding. Luckily, it is pretty easy to get rid of bed bugs on your dog’s bed – as long as you can fit the bed into your washing machine and/or dryer.

Throw the whole dog bed, the zippered cover, and any stuffed toys or clothing into the washing machine at the hottest temperature settings (minimum 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and place them into the dryer for 20 to 30 minutes. The heat will kill both adults and eggs. These measures should be effective at killing bed bugs that are living in washable items; however, in order to treat bed bugs in your home effectively, you will have to contact a professional pest control company.

Symptoms of Bed Bugs in Dogs

The signs of a bed bug infestation on your dog’s bed are similar to symptoms of fleas. The dog will likely scratch quite a bit. Your dog may even begin to avoid their bed, especially if they often laid on it before. Sometimes, the bites may develop into rashes or hives. This is especially true if your dog happens to be allergic to bed bugs.

In severe cases, if your dog is scratching excessively, your dog may begin to lose fur and may develop bald patches. Typically, this only occurs in genuinely severe cases or situations where your dog is sensitive to bed bugs. Some dogs have skin sensitivities anyway. When you add bed bugs to the mix, they can quickly lose their fur, especially if they are scratching a lot.

Brown stray dog skin disease leprous_Visit roemvanitch_shutterstock
Image credit: Visit Roemvanitch, Shutterstock

Can Dogs Bring Bed Bugs in the House?

Technically, yes. A dog could theoretically bring a few bed bugs into a house and start an infestation. However, this isn’t likely. Bed bugs do not live outside in the grass like fleas. They nest in furniture and bedding where they can access their favorite food source – people. Your dog is not going to wander into the grass and carry bed bugs back into the house.

Bed bugs will not live on your dog. They live in crevices in furniture , seams of mattresses, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, or objects around a bed – not on their food sources. Furthermore, they much prefer humans to dogs. It is more likely that you picked up bed bugs from a public place and brought them into your home in your luggage or clothing, for example.

However, your dog may catch a few bed bugs from someone else’s house and then carry the bugs home to your house.

Dogs are typically not the ones to blame when it comes to starting an infestation.

What Instantly Kills Bed Bugs?

Whenever you find out that you have a bed bug infestation you should contact a professional pest control company. There are a few ways you can try to kill bed bugs. Heat is one of the easiest. You can throw bedding into the washing machine and into the dryer, where the heat will kill the bed bugs and their eggs. This ends the lifecycle instantly. However, not everything can fit in a dryer. You can also use a steam cleaner (wet or dry) to treat carpets, baseboards, bed frames, and other furniture. The steam temperature must be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit but should not have a forceful airflow.

You can also use a simple vacuum to suck up and instantly get rid of bed bugs. This is quite effective and easy to do. Again, you likely won’t get all the bed bugs with the first pass, so we recommend regularly repeating to prevent another infestation.

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Featured Image: MitchyPQ, Shutterstock

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