While bed bugs faded from attention for some years, they seem to be back. Infestations are on the rise in many developed countries, including the United States. Bed bugs have been an unwelcome companion to humankind from ancient times. They have been found inside Egyptian tombs. Texts dating to Aristotle’s time mention the blood drinkers. But modern humans have many tools our ancestors lacked. We can protect ourselves and our pets from these pests.
Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?
Dogs do not generally spread bed bugs. The insects are not built like fleas and ticks to clasp and clutch hair and skin. They are also nocturnal, meaning that they tend to forage while your pet sleeps, then go back into hiding about the time your pet awakens. A bed bug may bite your pet but is not likely to hitch a ride on your dog. Infestations of these nuisance insects are hardly likely to have a pet as their root cause.
What Is a Bed Bug?
A bed bug is a reddish-brown insect that feeds on human blood as well as the blood of warm-blooded animals. These nocturnal insects are wingless. Their bodies are dorsoventrally flattened; this means they are flat on the axis connecting their dorsal, or back, and ventral sides. This flat shape allows bed bugs to hide in cracks and crevices, within carpets, and in the joints of beds and other furniture.
Life Cycle of a Bed Bug
The life of a bed bug begins as an egg that is like grain and a milky white in hue. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs in a day; they can lie up to 500 eggs in one lifetime. Eggs are set out singly or in clumps inside tight crevices or cracks. Being 1mm long, each egg is comparable in size to a pair of salt grains. Within two weeks, the egg hatches. A nymph, or immature bed bug, emerges and begins to feed at once. The young bed bug passes through a series of five molts to reach maturity. While nymphs look much like adults, they are smaller and still sexually immature. Younger nymphs have a yellowish-white hue; older nymphs and adults have a coloration that is more reddish-brown. To complete a stage of molting, a nymph must feed on blood. At room temperatures, and with blood meals, a nymph will molt and become an adult within a span of five weeks. When it has reached maturity, this insect tends to feed weekly. While bed bugs may live as long as a year with no food source in cool conditions, most have a life span of four to six months.
Significance of Bed Bugs
Why should you care about all the details of bed bugs? They feed on blood, humans, and animal alike. These pests can flood a multi-family building in a vast bed bug infestation that can be extremely difficult to control or wipe out. While not known to transmit any diseases in humans or dogs, their bites can lead to anemia, particularly in children, pruritus or itchiness, discomfort, sleeplessness, allergic reactions, and stress. Their infestations tend to require some amount of insecticides to bring under control, exposing humans and their animals to these chemicals that may involve a risk of health problems.
How Bed Bugs Find Their Ways into Buildings
Expert hiders and talented hitchhikers, bed bugs find their rides in furniture seams, the folds of mattresses, luggage seams, folded clothing, bedclothes, and more. In homes or buildings housing multiple families, bed bugs move actively between rooms simply by walking. Nothing needs to carry bed bugs between apartments. Bugs can rarely be found on dogs and cats. Generally, pets will not introduce a bed bug infestation into buildings.
Identifying a Bite on Your Dog
Bed bug bites resemble the leftovers of many other small biting insects. They may be anywhere on the body. You must find other signs to be sure whether the bites come from bed bugs or not. Remember that bed bug nymphs molt, shedding exoskeletons in order to grow and mature. Finding these molts can assist you in the identification of an infestation. The actual flat, wingless bugs may be spotted on beds or in bedding or on the skin of people or pets. You may also find bed bug feces, rusty spots on bedding, or furniture nearby. The bugs are also said to be accompanied by a musty, sweet odor where they are present.
Do Bed Bugs Dwell on Dogs?
The answer to whether bed bugs dwell on dogs is fortunately no. Bed bugs tend to dwell in beds, hence their name. The bed may belong to a human or Fido’s dog bed; the pests prefer humans but will dine on animals, so long as they are warm-blooded. Be sure to check your pet’s beds for molts and blood spots that indicate feces or crushed bugs.
Can Bed Bugs Bite Your Dog?
Yes, bed bugs can bite your dog. The bites produce small, irritated red bumps that can itch. The pests have trouble moving through fur, however, and bed bugs prefer humans to other warm-blooded creatures. A human, being larger, releases more carbon dioxide. This draws a bed bug’s attention, and it can sense it from great distances compared to its size. A 1mm flat insect detects it from over a 50-foot distance.
Can Bed Bugs Transmit a Disease to Your Dog?
Bed bugs do not transmit infectious diseases. However, their bites can lead to itching; the resultant scratching can create sores as well as open the way for secondary infections. The bites may also lead to allergic reactions .
Can Bed Bugs Be Transferred by Dogs?
Dogs, cats, and other pets and animals generally do not spread bed bugs. Unlike fleas, bed bugs do not infest their hosts. They merely live in their vicinity, feeding on their blood at intervals. Upon having feasted, they retreat to their hiding places. Seldom does a bed bug travel on its host. While dogs can carry bed bugs, the scenario is unlikely. The nocturnal bugs are most active when your dog is asleep. Also, they prefer the blood of humans that lies beneath our relatively hairless skin. Bed bugs find traversing the thick fur of a pet difficult.
Does Anti-Flea and Anti-Tick Protection Work on Bed Bugs?
Unfortunately, even the best flea and tick treatment for dogs do not work on bed bugs. Those products are formulated with fleas and several kinds of ticks in mind. Bed bugs are another beast entirely. Some natural products that defeat fleas and ticks will also kill bedbugs; one example is diatomaceous earth. This natural product has abrasive properties to such tiny creatures. It causes them to ultimately dry out, dying due to dehydration.
Prevention Tips for Bed Bugs
The cleanest homes in the most immaculate city in the neatest country in the world can harbor bed bugs. They require only blood and places in which to hide. Early detection of bed bugs is vital to the prevention of an infestation. You must remember that these flat, tiny pests are masters of hiding. Avoid clutter and vacuum often. Perform regular checks of crevices in mattresses, chairs, couches, curtains, and floorboards, as well as your pet’s dog crate and bedding. In these places, bed bugs and their indications are most frequently found. Torn bedding should be discarded. Place washable products in the dryer at high heat: this will kill foragers. When traveling, use caution so you do not transport any bed bugs home with you in your luggage. Wash travel wear at once upon your return. Use plastic bags for storage.
Finding Clues That You Have Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are great at hiding and have a secretive style of living. Dormant during the day, when the warm rays of the sun hold sway, they congregate in crevices no wider than a toothpick. They prefer to remain near to their next meals. This often means living on your sofa or your bed. And bed bugs often gather within the folds and tufts of mattresses and padded headboards or within the joints of bed frames and side tables. Wall plates and baseboards may also hide them. Look for red dots and small spots on your bedding where you may have crushed a bed bug, or it may have left feces. These spots will be rusty and reddish. They are primarily composed of blood that has been digested to some degree. You may also find the nymphs’ shed exoskeletons.
Treatment of Infestations
Bed bug activity, habits, and resilience make them tricky to eliminate. Bed bugs lack a central nest as ants have. They have an urge to wander, and if a single pregnant female remains when a building has been treated, the infestation process is about to begin again. Treatment for infestations is a process. Treatments can be heat-based; these begin at once but have no residual effects. Chemical bed bug treatments may take several weeks, but leave residual effects which allow for continued protection from another infestation.
Keeping Pets Safe From Infestations of Bed Bugs
Keep your pet from accidental contact with any chemicals used to treat bed bug infestations. Wash your dog’s bedding regularly, and vacuum often. If your dog seems to be scratching at one particular spot, check for a bug bite. Be aware of the signs and be swift to act should indications of an infestation’s presence arise in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can pets transfer bed bugs?
The answer to this is a technical yes, but in a practical sense, the answer is no, pets do not transfer bed bugs. Bed bugs do not prefer pets to dine on. They are asleep while your dog is active and so unlikely to be hitching a ride. They also are not built to cling to pets. These secretive bugs hide, creep out to eat the blood of the sleeping, and scuttle back to their crevices. They do not infest their hosts and are unlikely to be found on pets.
Do bed bugs lay eggs on dogs?
No. Bed bugs do not lay eggs on dogs. Rather, they prefer to lay them in crevices about the width of a toothpick, whether in a baseboard or behind a wall plate, in the joint of a piece of furniture, or in a tuft or fold of cloth in a mattress. These pests do not infest the creatures from which they feed. They dine and dash back to their hiding spaces.
What instantly kills bed bugs?
Heat kills bedbugs. Try renting or buying a steam cleaner to introduce heat to your carpet. The steamer needs to emit steam of a minimum of 212 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure this introduced heat is sufficient. Make slow passes in a methodical fashion, one inch per second to kill carpet bed bugs.
How do you kill bed bugs on a dog?
Because bed bugs are not going to be found on a dog in any great number, if you see one and kill it, you have likely rid your dog of its problem. In general, clean your dog’s beds and bedding, sort out any clutter, including dog toys, and vacuum, and thoroughly clean infested areas, including your dog’s favorite places to stretch out or sun.