Can Dogs Get Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are now found in all fifty states! According to surveys done by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). 99.6 percent of all pest control professionals have found bed bugs in homes or other locations in the last three years. Moreover, across the board, these professionals say bed bugs are very much on the rise! And, they say bedbugs are the most difficult of all the pests they target to eradicate!

With alarming bed bug stats like those above, it's perfectly understandable that some of the most common questions dog parents ask are:

  • Can dogs get bed bugs?
  • Can bed bugs live on my dog?

After all, it's a constant battle to ward off fleas that do indeed love to set up home on our pooches.

The basic answer to these kinds of questions is simple. Unlike fleas, bed bugs do not seek out dogs as a host, i.e. they don't live on dogs. Bed bugs much prefer to live in your mattress, or in the mattresses in the hotel rooms you visit, then on your dog. However, the longer answer is a bit more complicated and we'll address these nuances below.

This Fact May Make Your Skin Crawl

There's a rule of thumb that pest professionals have come to say about bed bugs. If you find signs of bed bugs on your dog's bed, you can assume that you not only have bed bugs in your home, you very likely have a HEAVY infestation of bed bugs!!

Why do they say this?

Because bed bugs very much prefer to make their home closer to human blood than to dog blood. In fact, the biting proclivities of bed bugs are the exact opposite of that of fleas.


Flea Experiment

Sleeping Human vs. Sleeping Dog

If you put a sleeping human and a sleeping dog in a dark room at night, and then release a vial of bloodthirsty fleas, although the sleeping human may get bit, the sleeping dog will get bit much more because fleas prefer a dog blood to human blood.

They also like to live on furry mammals, and no ladies, even if you married a really "hairy guy" who's constantly in the dog house, trust us in saying, fleas know the difference! LOL 🙂


Bedbug Experiment

Sleeping Human vs. Sleeping Dog

If, however, you did the same experiment and released a vial of bloodthirsty bed bugs in a dark room at night with a sleeping human and a sleeping dog, the bed bugs would make a beeline to the sleeping human for a meal, not the dog! This is not to say they won't ever bite a dog -- they will indeed bite a dog on occasion -- but they much prefer to suck the blood out of a human!

In fact, bed bugs prefer the blood of birds and bats to that of dogs. So, Polly the pet parakeet is in more danger of being bitten by a bed bug than Fido the dog -- if there's no delicious human around!

To a bed bug, human blood is like a nice juicy rib-eye steak. Bird blood is like a good ol' hamburger. Dog blood is like cheap bologna. All are on the menu but human blood is the most ordered item!

However, if you have a really heavy infestation of bed bugs, and there's no more room in the mattress, inside the alarm clock, or behind the bed board where you and or other humans in your home sleep, the overflow of the heavy bed bug population may take up residence in the dog bed, near a less tasty secondary host! So, if you see bed bug signs in the dog bed, you've really got a bed bug problem!

Gross, right?

Here's Some More Gruesome News You Need To Know

In April 2016, researchers from the University of Sydney put out a press release that gave people around the world a collective cringe. Using scanning electron microscopy, they were able to give the biggest clue yet as to why bed bugs worldwide seem to be developing a strong resistance to pesticides.

It seems that bed bugs resistant to pesticides are growing a thicker exoskeleton that those bed bugs that are less resistant to pesticides!

Furthermore, these scientists predicted that to kill resistant bed bugs with thicker exoskeletons, the pesticides would have to be about one thousand times more concentrated!

Woof, woof, ick, ick!

Beg Bugs Aren't Designed Like Fleas and Lice

When scientists study host and parasite relationships, one thing is always clear. Parasites develop adaptations that make it easier to live on their hosts. In the case of fleas, their bodies are laterally compressed to make it easier to move between the hairs of dense dog fur.

Their bodies are also covered in stiff tiny hairs that allow them to easily cling on tight and avoid being dislodged even when a dog desperately scratches herself.

Some lice species have appendages that are specifically designed to grasp hair and even slide down it like a fireman would slide down a fire pole. Are you scratching your head yet?

On the other hand, if you look at a bed bug up close, you'll find that they are NOT designed to live in the dense fur of a dog. Furthermore, they are NOT designed to easily move between hairs or along a hair strand.

Instead, bed bugs are much better designed to crawl along the "naked skin" of a human. If you have a hairless dog, he is more likely to be bitten by a bed bug than dogs with a thick fur.

What To Do About Your Dog's Bedding

If you even suspect the presence of bedbugs in your home, it's a good idea to wash all the bedding in your home, including the dog's bedding, in hot water and then dry these items on your dryer's hottest setting.

To kill bed bugs and their various immature stages, the temperature must reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hotter is preferred in fact. Some home dryers do not reach this temperature even on the hottest setting so check your manual or call the manufacturer to determine if yours does.

Large dog beds may not fit into your dryer with enough room to get the entire dog bed to the desired temperature. If your dryer doesn't reach at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and or it's too small for your dog bed, you may want to first do the best you can at home and then take the bedding to a laundromat that has an industrial sized dryer with super high temperatures for a second drying.

If your home is heavily infested with bed bugs, you may want to simply throw out the dog bed, along with your own mattress.

It is very difficult to kill one-hundred percent of all bed bug eggs and larval stages, let alone every single adult bed bug.

Yes, it may be expensive to replace your dog bed, and your dog may be very attached to her bed, but this may be the only way to be sure if you have a heavy infestation!

Give Your Dog a Bath After Vacationing or After Treating Your Home

While bed bugs do not live on dogs or intentionally lay their eggs on dogs, the eggs and nymph stages of bed bugs could become incidentally trapped in your dog's hair as they crawl under beds, behind nightstands, and in other locations where bed bugs may be lurking.

Thus, after returning from vacation and or after treating your home for bed bugs, in an abundance of caution, it would be a good idea to brush your dog outside. Then, give your dog a good bath and wash the dog brush while you're at it!

Finally, Dogs Are Heroes In Our Battle Against Bed Bugs!

Due to their incredibly sensitive canine noses, dogs are now on the front line of bed bug defense! An increasing number of pest control companies are using specially trained dogs to sniff out bedbugs in:

  • Private homes
  • Hotels
  • Dorm Rooms
  • Homeless shelters
  • Apartment buildings
  • Condos
  • Daycare centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Cruise ships
  • Airplanes
  • Hospitals
  • Other bedbug vulnerable locations

Some private dog trainers are also beginning to train dogs to sniff out and indicate the presence or absence of bed bugs. We've always known our dogs are truly special beings but here's one more amazing reason to love your canine!

I hope you enjoyed our icky article "Can dog's get bedbugs", be sure to leave your creepy crawly comments below.

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