pets itching from bed bugs

Can pets carry bed bugs?

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As pet owners, we love our furry companions, but we aren’t necessarily fond of what they bring into the house—like fleas and ticks. In comparison to these bloodsuckers, bed bugs don’t bother with pets nearly as much as they do with their owners. But that doesn’t mean they won’t turn to furry family members for fuel. These parasites feed on warm-blooded animals, and when food is scarce, bed bugs are not picky eaters.

The truth is, bed bugs prefer exposed skin because they have difficulty navigating through fur. Cats and dogs can often detect movement in their coat, which makes feeding even more challenging. But desperate times call for desperate measures! When a human host is inaccessible, bed bugs will turn to an alternate source, such as pet dogs, cats, birds, and rodents. One meal only takes a minute, so catching a bed bug in the act is a difficult task. However, bed bugs are more likely to hitchhike on family pets for transportation to humans.

Bed bugs don’t lay eggs on their host, so rest assured that your pet is safe against nests in their fur.

If you’re worried about bed bugs in your home, on your pet or elsewhere, give Ehrlich a call at 888-984-0186.

Transmission of disease

Bed bugs aren’t known to transfer disease to humans or pets, but their bite can lead to infection from excessive scratching. Any open wound is susceptible to infection, and what’s worse is pet paws are covered with bacteria and even fungus. If you think about it, every time your pet uses the litter box or goes outside, their paws become breeding grounds for those pathogens. This is the case for clean homes and healthy pets too. Dog owners are all too familiar with “Frito Feet,” so named for a corn chip-like smell coming from dog paws.

Small dog laying down in his bed and scratching

Bed bug bites on dogs and cats

What’s remarkable about bed bugs is their stealth. When a bed bug bites, its first line of defense is an anesthetic which is injected into the wound, leaving their bite undetectable for up to 10 minutes. It then injects an anticoagulant to thin the blood for quick consumption. Once it’s engorged, it won’t feed again for another week, so one meal goes a long way.

Fortunately, early detection can make all the difference in the world for your family and your pets. While bed bugs prefer human hosts, bed bugs will feed on dogs and cats if no other food option presents itself. 

How to tell if your pet has been bitten by bed bugs

If you suspect your furry family member has been bitten, look for overall irritability and vigorous scratching, licking, or gnawing at wounds. These are usually the first indicators. You may also notice a skin rash, inflammation at the base of the bite, and dried blood, either from your pet or bed bug byproduct. These bloodsuckers are notorious for leaving behind a trail of evidence in their wake. In addition to blood, you may find molted skin, stray eggs, and feces that resemble flea dirt. All of these waste materials can be found in pet bedding as well, so be sure to inspect them thoroughly for evidence of bed bugs

To lower the risk of infection, wash your pet’s paws and cleanse wounds with an antiseptic. Distracting your pet with a bone or catnip will deter them from worsening their injuries. For severe bites, consult your veterinarian about allergy medication. They may also be able to determine the culprit of the bite. 

cat on couch

Preventing bed bugs on dogs and cats

Even the cleanest homes in America can harbor bed bugs; all they need to thrive is blood and hiding spots. Homeowners are the intended targets for bed bugs, but unfortunately, our pets can suffer the consequences. To keep your family and furry friends safe from bed bugs, call Ehrlich at 888-984-0186.

Early detection is key against an infestation. Remember, bed bugs are skillful hiders. Therefore it’s best to avoid clutter and vacuum frequently. Perform regular inspections of crevices in mattresses, couches, chairs, floorboards, and curtains, and pet bedding where bed bugs are most commonly found.

Place washable pet products, like blankets and clothing, on medium to high heat. Materials that can’t be washed, like large beds, should be placed in the dryer on high heat to eliminate foraging bed bugs. Throw away any torn bedding, as bed bugs will likely burrow deeper in the stuffing.

When traveling, be careful not to transport bed bugs home with you in bedding and luggage. Wash travel wear immediately when you get home and use plastic bags or containers for storage.

Bed bug problems are no task to take on alone as they are becoming increasingly pesticide-resistant. If you suspect your family and pets are at risk, call the professionals at Ehrlich at 888-984-0186 to discuss your options.

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