Do Bed Bugs Bite Dogs?
Bed bugs are known to bite humans, but what about our four-legged friends? Here's what you need to know about dog bed bug bites.
Although bed bugs prefer to feed on humans, they can bite almost any animal. Dogs, cats, rodents, and birds are all included. Dogs aren't a common host for bed bugs, but their bedding can provide an excellent hiding place for these pests.
What do bed bug bites look like on dogs?
If your dog has been bitten by bed bugs, you may notice tiny red bumps on their belly and limbs. Bed bug bites typically occur in groups of two or three in a straight line. These can be difficult to detect depending on the length of your dog's hair. If your dog scratches frequently, their skin may become irritated, resulting in a bed bug rash.
What signs should you be on the lookout for?
Bed bug bites itch, even in our canine companions. Keep an eye out for scratching, biting, licking, and general irritability. In addition to bed bug bites, look for spotting around your pet's bedding. These marks could be dried blood from your dog's bite or a darker spot indicating bed bug feces. Another secondary sign of bed bugs to keep an eye out for is exoskeletons shed around your pet's bedding. Shed skins resemble bed bugs, only they are translucent and empty. Bed bug eggs are very small and difficult to find, but they are an excellent indicator that a bed bug infestation has begun. You may also notice bed bugs crawling around your pet's bedding. Adults are small and flat, resembling apple seeds. They are reddish-brown before consuming a blood meal and bright, blood red afterward.
Can anti-tick and anti-flea products for pets keep bed bugs at bay?
Anti-tick and anti-flea pet products are exactly what they sound like: tick and flea products. They were not designed to protect pets from bed bugs and are likely to have little or no effect on an infestation.
Bed bugs appear to be making a comeback with a vengeance! Many developed countries, including the United States, where bugs appeared to be a thing of the past for years, are now having to deal with them again. Although bed bugs have been unwelcome companions of humans since antiquity, as their numbers declined dramatically in the 1940s and 1950s (due in large part to the use of synthetic insecticides such as DDT and improvements in hygiene), so did Americans' knowledge and vigilance regarding these pests. This fact, combined with increased domestic and international travel, increased insecticide resistance in the bugs, increased transfer/re-use of used furniture, and increased "clutter" and belongings in our homes, has created the ideal environment for the resurgence of these bugs. Once inside our homes, these pests are difficult and costly to control and eradicate. As a result, preventing their entry into your home is becoming increasingly important.
There are several clues or signs that can aid in the identification of infestations. People have reported seeing bed bugs crawling on themselves or their pets in rare cases. However, as previously stated, this is unusual. Small insect bites anywhere on the body are more likely; these may resemble those of other biting insects (mosquitoes or fleas), so it is important to look for other signs. Bed bugs, like other insects, must shed their exoskeletons in order to grow, so finding these "molts" as well as actual bed bugs in the folds of the mattress or trapped in the sheets can help identify an infestation. Furthermore, bed bug feces can leave rusty spots on bedding or nearby furniture, and bugs are said to leave a sweet, musty odor in areas where they live. Furthermore, a variety of commercial bed bug traps and monitors are now available, and bed bug detecting dogs can detect infestations.
What can I do to keep my pets safe from bed bugs?
Bed bugs do not live on animals in the same way that fleas do. They hide in the environment and only come out at night to feed. As a result, it is uncommon for pets to carry bugs on them. Pets are protected from bed bugs in the same way that you protect yourself and your home from bed bugs: through vigilance and hygiene. If you already have a bed bug infestation, eliminating it will protect your entire family (including your pets) from the annoyance of bed bugs. When traveling (with or without your pet), inspect the areas around the bed (especially the headboard and box spring) for bed bugs or signs of bed bug infestation. Remember that, despite their small size, these bugs are visible to the naked eye. If possible, keep luggage, pet crates, and pet bedding away from the bed (consider storing them in the bathroom or a space away from sleeping areas and couches). When leaving your hotel, thoroughly inspect all luggage, pet crates, and pet bedding to ensure that no hidden bugs will accompany you home. Consider having your pet bathed and groomed before bringing them home (this may remove any bugs that are present), and visually inspect your pet for bed bugs. Luggage, pet carriers, and bedding can be stored in the car for up to two weeks after you return home. This can further reduce the number of live bed bugs in areas of the country with extreme weather (hot and cold) by heat-killing or freezing them. When you do bring these items into your home, make sure to wash them right away (clothing, pet bedding, etc.) ensuring that hot water is used and/or the dryer is set to medium-high heat; washing alone will not kill bed bugs, but high-heat drying will. There is no foolproof way to ensure that you, your belongings, or your pet will not bring unwanted guests into your home, but these precautions can help.
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