Bed Bugs and Pets: Can Pets Carry Bed Bugs?

Pets are our companions, play buddies, exercise mates and at times, the most popular member in our families. When your pet is sick, you go through all the emotional trauma as you ensure that it is well taken care of.

That is why it really is heartbreaking when bed bugs decide to snack on your best furry friend. While humans are the ideal host for bed bugs, it doesn’t mean that they will stay away from your pets.

So, can pets carry bed bugs? It isn’t common for pets to carry bed bugs because of their fur – bed bugs are not built to trudge through hairy surfaces. However, anything is possible when you are dealing with a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are experts at hitchhiking and hiding because of their tiny bodies and so there is a possibility of a few of them hiding in your pet’s fur and getting carried.

Bed Bug Exterminators

One of the reasons, why you are reading this post, is probably because you are worried about the possibility of your pet being a bed bug carrier or host. Having read the above facts about pets carrying bed bugs, you may be on edge at having your fears confirmed.

Worry not because this post has got you covered. You will learn of any danger posed to your pets by bed bugs, the right treatment of bed bugs on pets and the safe products to use while treating your pets for bed bugs.

Do Bed Bugs Bite/Feed on Pets?

Bed bugs feed on warm-blooded animals and that, unfortunately, means that your pet isn’t exempt from this category. These parasites are built in such a way that they mainly latch on hairless/furless skin for a meal. This makes humans their main hosts, however, they will still latch on the underbellies of pets and the ears – where it is less hairy and fill up on the warm blood.


Do Bed Bugs Bother Pets?

Can You Get Bed Bugs From Pets

Having tiny pests bite on you while you sleep is downright annoying and the same goes for your pets. Bed bug bites appear in various forms on different people. Some get itchy welts on their skin while others remain unaffected by the bites. This is pretty much the same situation when it comes to pets being bitten by bed bugs.

They will scratch continuously in an effort to get rid of the little bloodsuckers, a situation which is quite unpleasant for your pet.


Can You Get Bed Bugs From Pets?

There is a possibility that your pets will transfer bed bugs to you, however, it is quite slim. The idea of you getting bed bugs from your pet insinuates that your house was bedbug-free until your pet brought the bugs home. This is possible but only under the following circumstances:

  • Your pet likes to play in places that may be infested with bed bugs e.g your neighbor’s house, on recently abandoned furniture, near a homeless persons’ abode etc.
  • You just came from traveling with your pet.
  • You had someone pet sit for you in their possibly infested homes, etc.

Basically, if your pet has been to an infected location, the chance of him bringing back a bug is high, however, it should be noted that bed bugs do not live outside. This means that if you keep your pet strictly around your fenced compound, your furry friend isn’t the reason why you have those bed bugs.


Are Bed Bugs Harmful To Pets?

Are Bed Bugs Harmful To Pets

Unlike fleas and mites which are known to spread diseases to your pets and even humans, bed bugs are not known to carry diseases. However, just because they do not spread diseases, it does not mean that they are harmless, no, they are anything but harmless.

In the case of a severe infestation, your poor pet will be fed on continuously and constantly which could lead to the following:

  • Anemia (but only in severe conditions). This will be as a result of your pet losing too much blood because it is being fed on by the bed bugs at an alarming rate.
  • Discomfort due to lots of itching and scratching.
  • Skin lacerations due to continuous scratching.
  • Infections in the lacerated patches of skin if not treated immediately.

Do Bed Bugs Stay On Pets?

The possibility of bed bugs staying on your pet is quite slim because bed bugs do not nest on their host. They emerge in the unholy hours of the night, find a nice patch of skin to latch on while the host is sleeping and then they continue to fill up on the warm blood.

Once satisfied, they retreat to their cool corner of the pets’ bedding or another hidden corner and hide away until their next meal. Bed bugs prefer to live in a cooler hidden away corner rather than on the warm environment that is their warm-blooded host.

Which Pet Eats Bed Bugs?

The most common pets in the majority of our homes are cats and dogs. It is therefore understandable when we seek out the possibilities of our pets feeding on bed bugs. It is true that some pets do in fact feed on bed bugs, unfortunately, these do not include cats or dogs.

While a smile may form on your face at the prospect of having natural bed bug predators help you in the fight against bed bugs, hold that thought as we go through the types of animals that feed on bed bugs.

  • Spiders (Philodromid crab spider and the cobweb spider)
  • Cockroaches
  • Ants ( argentine ants, pharaoh ants or European fire ants)
  • Ladybug (eat baby bugs)
  • Centipedes
  • Masked hunters (these are avid bed bug hunters)
  • Pseudoscorpion

The above list gives an overview of the kind of animals that feed on bed bugs. While some of them are fairly harmless e.g the centipede, ladybug, the pseudoscorpion and some spiders, the others e,g the fire ants and the masked hunters do pose the risk of harming you with their stings.

The idea of trying to get rid of bed bugs in your home by introducing natural predators is inconsequential to the bed bug infestation in your home. Imagine, at the rate with which bed bugs multiply, a population doubles every sixteen days, how many natural predators will you need roaming in your home to clear the infestation?

Remember that these predators will also want to reproduce with their own kind, and before you know it, you now have a second infestation and the bed bug one won’t seem like such a problem anymore.

Bottom line is, it is wise to set aside the idea of using natural predators to clear the bed bugs in your home and instead try other means, e.g calling a professional exterminator.


Is Bed Bug Treatment Safe For Pets

Is Bed Bug Treatment Safe For Pets

The market is overflowing with bed bug killing products. While some of them may be safe to use around the house, they cannot be used on pets.

Such products include:

  • Raid bed bug spray – this product is very effective in the fight against bed bugs and other fleas but it should not be used directly on the pet. Spray it in the infested room but make sure you keep your pet or even children away from that room until it dries. For more insight as to how long it will take to dry, please read the label carefully and follow the instructions listed there with vigilance.
  • Hot Shot Bed Bug Killer Dust – this is one product that you probably should avoid while treating bed bugs in your pet-friendly home. The product is pure dust and it should be applied to all corners of your home, basically all the areas with bed bugs. While this powdered product will work to kill the bed bugs, it may be harmful to your pets when they inhale it. Remember it is a powder that will get applied to all corners that your pet can reach an inevitably inhale.

One safe option is Harris Bed Bug Killer. This company uses natural products to make their pesticides. However, since we cannot actually put such strong pesticides on ourselves, we cannot use them on our pets either.

Disclaimer: Hariss bed bug products are safe to use around our pets and loved ones but ensure that you read the products’ instruction manual before use.


How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs on Pets – Pet Friendly Bed Bug Treatments

You will be pleased to know that the process involved in getting your pet to a bedbug-free state isn’t something new. Nope, in fact, I guarantee that you have done it several times before for the sole purpose of taking care of your pet. Now, you will do it with a new agenda in place – getting rid of bed bugs.

There are no specific bed bug products designed solely for pets. With this in mind, let us look at the steps involved when treating your pets for bed bugs.


1. Clean Your Pet

The process here will involve a full-body grooming session, trimming fur and all the steps involved, followed by washing your pet. The first step will reduce the bed bug hiding areas and make it easy for you to spot any bites, cracks or welts on your pet.

The next step will involve a thorough shampoo bath which will require a natural shampoo to soothe the pets’ irritated skin. There are no bed bug shampoos in the market but shampoos that are organic and meant to treat dry and itchy skin will do.

Examples of such products are Odie and Cody Natural Pet Products, or Friends Forever Shampoo and Premium Pet Oatmeal Shampoo.

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Do not worry about the probability of bed bugs remaining attached to your pet, the water will disorient the bugs causing them to detach from the pet and inadvertently drown as you drain your water.


2. Clean Pet’s Environment

After you have cleaned the pet and gotten rid of any hiding bugs on them, next you need to clean its entire environment and items.

This process includes laundering the pet’s beddings, towels, toys, etc. If these items can be washed in the machine, set the washer to the highest temperatures because heat kills bed bugs. If they cannot be washed in the machine, consider steam cleaning the items, a process that is equally effective and also uses heat.

Another way is to soak them in really hot water for a few minutes to kill the bugs. After cleaning out all your pets’ belongings, ensure that you have vacuumed the pets’ feeding, sleeping and playing area.

After vacuuming the pet’s area, use a combination of pet-safe pesticides to treat the area. The following are examples of such products;

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3. Treat the Entire House

The thing about bed bugs is that as long as they have entered your home, be it through the pet or by whatever means, they spread really fast. So, this means that washing your pet and it’s living space is not enough, you have to do a thorough treatment of your entire home.

This is because by the time the bed bugs have started feeding on your pet, – a clear sign of an infestation. They have certainly been to other areas of your home. Remember that their first meal preference isn’t the pet, no, their first warm-blooded meal preference is you. For them to have reached your pet, it means they can certainly be found in other areas of your home too.


Summary

The bottom line is that no matter how resilient bed bugs are, they do not come close to our resilience. They can multiply, hide, hitchhike and spread as much as they wish but, they still have their weaknesses. Your job is to figure out those weaknesses and fight back.

This post gives you detailed information about the steps required to protect your pet against bed bugs. Remember, the fight isn’t won until you treat your entire household!


List of Sources

Bed Bug Behavior, University of Minnesota

EPA. (May 2010). Controlling Bed Bugs. Pesticides: Controlling Pests

Koehler PG, Pereira RM, Pfiester M, Hertz J. (July 2011). Bed bugs and blood-sucking conenose. EDIS. (26 April 2017)

Diseases & Conditions – Bedbugs, Mayo Clinic

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