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Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

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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. They don’t burrow quite as well as fleas and ticks.

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, making it essential to treat your dog as well.

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Can a Dog Get Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs can set up and live on a dog. 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. They may also struggle to find enough food, which may make them infest the dog’s bed as well.

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 live on dogs like fleas. They live on the dog’s bed. Luckily, it is pretty easy to get rid of your bed bugs on your dog’s bed – as long as you can fit it in the dryer.

Throw the whole dog bed or the zippered cover into the dryer for 20 to 30 minutes. The heat will kill both adults and the eggs. You can give it a good wash afterwards if you prefer, though it isn’t necessary.

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, 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.

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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 – not on their food sources. Furthermore, they much prefer humans to dogs. It is more likely that you happened to catch a few bed bugs from a public area and brought them into your home.

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?

There are a few ways you can kill bed bugs. Heat is one of the easiest.  You can throw bedding 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. In this case, rubbing alcohol is a very effective method that doesn’t take much setup. It evaporates quickly, so you won’t have to deal with a wet bed for long.

However, alcohol will not affect their eggs. You will need to respray often to ensure that all the bed bugs are taken care of. This is best done once or twice a week for a few months to prevent another infestation.  Of course, do not spray alcohol onto your dog.

You can also use a simple vacuum to suck up and instantly kill 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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