Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Alene Schill
You’re sitting on the bed when you suddenly notice one of the worst things that could invade your home: bed bugs.
You search your memory for any possible reason for the unwanted bed bug infestation. Your eyes fall upon little Peanut, contentedly licking away at his paw without a care in the world.
Could Peanut have brought them home? You wonder.
If you’re like most pet owners, you might be wondering can pets carry bed bugs? We’re here to provide expert advice and debunk most myths you might be familiar with.
Do Pets Carry Bed Bugs?
To answer: yes, pets can carry bed bugs.
But not in the way you think.
Bed bugs can hitchhike onto your pet’s fur to travel from one location to the other, but it’s unlikely that they’ll cause an infestation within your pet’s fur. Making them their host also won’t likely happen.
Unlike fleas, adult bed bugs do not need to live off a host to survive — instead, they’re out hiding in the environment, like your mattresses, curtains, wallpaper, cracks, laying eggs, and feeding off their food source (in this case, a human blood meal) at night. But what really causes bed bugs?
Are Bed Bugs Attracted to Pets?
No, bed bugs are not attracted to pets. The blood of cats and dogs is insufficient to meet a run-of-the-mill bed bug’s nutritional needs. These insects are also known to have difficulty navigating through fur, so they prefer exposed skin.
However, that doesn’t mean that your cat or dog is exempt from a bed bug’s wrath. They will feed on them if they’ve gone a long time without a blood meal from a human host.
Research has proven that they can feed on all warm-blooded animals, so just because they dislike fur, that doesn’t mean they won’t settle for your pets and let themselves starve. They probably will first feed on human hosts (you) before moving on to the little guys. But what do bed bugs eat aside from blood?
Will Your Pets Spread Bed Bugs Around the House?
No, your pets won’t likely spread bed bugs around the house. The most they can do with your pets is to hitch a ride on them to make it easier for them to move around. They also won’t cling to your dogs or cats for a long time, nor will they make them their host. But how can you get rid of bed bugs on a couch?
Signs That Your Pet Has Been Bitten
As we’ve said, bed bugs probably won’t bite your pets if the pet owners (you) are available. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. It can also be difficult to watch out for bites on your dogs or cats, especially if they have long hair , and, if left untreated, the lesions could end up as a rash or skin irritation if they continue scratching it. They may also lose fur in the area of the bite lesions.
Here are some signs that a bed bug has bitten your pet:
- Tiny red bumps on your pet’s belly and limbs in groups of two or three
- Spotting or flea dirt around the pet bedding
- Scratching, biting, or general irritability
Will Bed Bugs Make Your Pet Sick?
Fortunately for us, bed bugs aren’t known disease carriers. The worst thing the bite can do to you and your pets is to cause severe scratching and major discomfort, leading to secondary skin infections and rashes.
People and pets won’t notice bed bug bites most of the time.
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Tips to Protect Your Pets From Bed Bugs
The pet bedding is one of bed bugs’ favorite spots, as its creases, curves, and folds make for ideal hiding spots. It’s a great idea to check this spot immediately as soon as you’re aware of their presence in your home, as you don’t want your poor pets bitten by these parasites while they’re sleeping!
Here are other tips to protect your pet from bed bugs:
- Make sure that your pet’s anti-flea and ticks neck drops are updated
- Ensure that no bed bugs are present in the room when you’re sleeping somewhere unfamiliar, whether or not you’re with your pets
- Keep luggage, pet crates, and bedding away from the bed
- Run your pet’s bedding, clothing, and stuffed toys in the highest temperature settings in the washer and dryer (the high heat will get rid of bed bugs)
- Those that cannot be washed, like hard or rubber toys, can be run through the dryer at high heat
- Throw the bedding out if it has holes or tears, as there is a high chance there are bed bug eggs inside
What Do Bed Bugs Prefer, Pets or Humans?
Hands down, bed bugs will always choose to suck on a human host over a dog. The blood of animals will not be sufficient to meet their nutritional needs.
However, that’s not to say that they won’t have a nibble or two. These insects are known opportunists and will feed on any warm-blooded animal. They will choose to feed on pets if they haven’t had a sufficient blood meal in a while.
Can you get bed bugs from pets?
No, you likely won’t get bed bugs from pets. These pests don’t make pets their hosts the way fleas do. The worst thing they can do to your pets is to cling or hitchhike onto them so they can easily move from one location to another. So why does Ohio have so many bed bugs?
Can cats sense bed bugs?
Yes, cats can sense bed bugs. Some people go as far as to train cats to make them their archenemies and hunt them down! Their sweat glands emit a strong, musty odor that will only be noticeable to humans once a full-blown infestation. For cats, however, their keen sense of smell is highly efficient in detecting a lone bed bug and quashing it before it has a chance of multiplying.
We’re sure you’re reading this because you want to know if your pets can carry bed bugs and how best you can protect them.
Your pets won’t likely be the target of bed bugs, especially if you’re around, since bed bugs prefer humans over a dog or cat. That being said, they won’t restrict themselves from having a nibble or two, especially if their main food source is low. The good news is that they are not disease carriers.
They are also known as hitchhikers, and they can cling onto your pet to travel from one location to another, so if you go to a location that houses them, your pet can bring bed bugs home.
If your home does have an infestation, it would be best to contact licensed professionals and exterminations to treat bed bugs for the safety of you, your family, and your pets.
Alene Schill is a property manager from Columbus, Ohio, who has dealt with numerous pest control agencies. She helps families find the perfect homes and knows very well that bed bugs are an ultimate deal-breaker. She enjoys cycling around Scioto Mile during her spare time.