Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs have traits of being hitchhikers, confirming the fact that dogs can carry bed bugs. It’s rare for them to make themselves at home on your pet. They are known by the scientific name of Cimex lectularius or Cimex hempiterus.

What is a Bed Bug?

Bed bugs are parasites and need blood to sustain life. They prefer warm bodied hosts such as humans, but on occasion they will feed on animals. It comes down to survival – eat what’s available. Adult bed bugs are about five to seven millimeters in length and double in size after feeding. If you are looking for a nest, newborn bed bugs are the size of a poppy seed.

They have a long history of evolution – first inhabiting various animal nests, roosts and beds after learning to adapt to humans. They get their name from the locations they inhabit. They are just as comfortable in sofas or stored paper boxes.

  • Cimex lectularius – common species
  • Cimex hempiterus – tropical species

If your pet has been bitten look for small red welts, in a formation of three or more. The itching is triggered quickly, but the actual welt may not show up for a few days.

Killing a bed bug isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a few effective methods. One is an extreme change in temperature. Extermination of adult bed bugs happens at 119 degrees Fahrenheit. Unhatched eggs can be killed with temperatures of 125 degrees. Heat is also used for cleaning household and pet items.

How Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

For most of us, pets are part of the family. They move throughout the home, making a dog the perfect carrier for these hitchhikers. Think about it - your pet lives in your home, and most of the time sleeps in your bed.

Pets play outside and may visit locations on their daily walks, bringing back a few uninvited guests. If you notice changes in their behavior, check their bedding. If you look closely you may notice exoskeletons or small amounts of blood residue left behind. You don’t have to throw everything out. But you do need to make sure anything made of fabric is washed. Be sure to separate your pet's bedding from your own laundry items. You don’t want to spread the bed bugs.

  • Use a hot temperature for washing – 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Medium or high settings on the dryer.

If the items can’t be washed, put them in the dryer for at least 20 minutes. Pets love their playthings and may tear the bedding – consider discarding the torn items and get replacements.

Symptoms of Dogs Carrying Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are attracted to warmth, moisture and the carbon dioxide humans and dogs exhale. While you’re trying to get some sleep, they are feasting. Many believe these parasites are active at night. The activity may pick up during the night, because you are within close proximity of where they live. The same applies to your pet.

  • Bites on dogs show up on their belly and limbs.
  • Dog beds are perfect hiding spots – look for empty bug shells

If you see bites on your pet, check the carriers and their favorite areas. Bed bugs stay close to the nest, wandering within five to ten feet of the host. Be sure to wash the inside and outside of the carrier with alcohol. Wash the bedding and the sleeping area. After cleaning, vacuum the area and dispose of the vacuum bag along with other potentially invested items in a separate trash bag.

If you happen to be petting your dog while sitting on the sofa and see a bed bug – check the sofa. Chances are your sofa has bed bugs not your pet.

How to Treat Bed Bugs

If you have discovered bed bugs on your dog, it's likely they have found a home where you like to hang out. After cleaning the areas of both animals and humans, it’s time to call an exterminator for an assessment.

Generally, the chemicals used require the home be vacated for four to six hours. It could take longer depending on the level of infestation. Talk with a professional and make sure the fuming agents they use are safe for the animals when your return to a clean home.

In preparation for the exterminator, here are a few tips to increase complete extermination.

  • Clean everything
  • Reduce the clutter in pet areas
  • Bag infested materials in separate bags for disposal.
  • Get rid of paper and magazines on the floor.

There are several exterminating methods for do-it-yourself (DIY). The problems with these products may be the limitation of effectiveness. Be sure to read the product labels and the safety data. Never apply these products directly to your pet. Always wear protective gear when handling any form of insecticide.

  • Foggers clean the area but don’t penetrate the bed mattresses.
  • Sprays can be applied directly to the site of infestation.
  • CO2 ingredients have been tested to be effective lures for verifying the existence of bed bugs in a home.

According to scholars, medical practitioners and veterinarians, one common trait humans share with pets is the need to inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. It just so happens that one of the alluring chemicals for bed bugs is carbon dioxide. Research and studies report carbon dioxide may be an effective fumigation formula. Before you test any of these theories, talk with a professional.

Remember, products only work for the specific type of pests. Be sure the products used to clean out your home are designed to kill bed bugs. Read the label – if it does not state bed bugs, it may not work. It’s important to use the right product. If you’re not sure, ask a professional.

Like other pests, they can return. If you’ve been successful in purging your home and pets of these bloodsuckers, remember to reschedule your home for another cleansing just in case a new family of bugs moves in.

Storage and Handling

Take precautions when choosing pesticides for bed bug termination. Follow the instructions and make sure the product is EPA approved. Approved products meet safety regulations for your home, family and dog.

  • Keep all chemicals and cleaning products out of reach of children, elderly adults and animals.

Store chemicals in a cool, dry place away from direct heat or light.

Discard outdated or unused portions properly.

Frequently asked questions

1. Do bed bugs have a health risk to humans or animals?

There’s no health risk unless you have allergies. You may notice pets scratching more than usual.

2. How can I tell I have bedbugs?

The easiest method is a series of bites on the skin. Sometimes they take 14 days to develop.

3. What are the signs bed bugs have taken up residence?

Look for empty shells. Check the fold of blankets or sheets for remnants. They have a scent unique to them – it’s a sweet, musty odor.

4. Does it matter where I live?

Bed bugs aren’t particular about where they live – they are looking for a meal.

5. Best home methods for getting rid of them?

Depends on the situation - with a mild infestation, DIY remedies may be effective. If it's major, it’s time for a professional.

6. How do I treat a bite?

Talk to your veterinarian about your pet. For yourself avoid scratching the area and apply a topical antiseptic. Your doctor can recommend an over-the-counter medication or prescription.

7. How do I prevent their return?

Most products remain effective for a certain duration. Read the product label. Keep cleaning and check the hidden areas where you first found the bed bugs.