So yes, you’ve been struggling with bedbugs in your home. With time and effort, you’re finally getting rid of the repulsive creatures. But then your dog started scratching itself. When you investigated, you found small bite marks. You’ve treated for ticks and fleas. The blood spots and dark smears in the dog bed look just like the ones you discovered on your bedding. Apparently, the bugs have moved from your bed to the dog bed. How do you get rid of them without harming the dog? Don’t give up. We’ve collected tips in this article to help you eradicate bedbugs on dogs.
Is It Possible for My Dog to Get Bed Bugs?
Dogs and other pets aren’t the first choices for hungry bedbugs. It’s hard for the bugs to navigate through animal fur. The only food that bed bugs consume is blood from warm-blooded mammals, and they prefer to snack on humans. Bed bugs go through several stages of growth from eggs to adults. Once they hatch from the eggs, they can’t progress from one stage to the next stage without a blood meal.
Bedbugs like to eat every few days, but they can go for months without a meal. They find a dark place to hide, including the linings in your dog’s bed. They can also hide in cracks or crevices in a dog house. If you can fit a credit card in an opening, the opening is big enough for a bed bug. When bedbugs need to eat, they’ll do everything possible to find a human to bite.
If a person isn’t available, they will feed on whatever is available, including:
- Any mammalian pet
Unusual behavior in your pet, especially scratching or picking, warrants checking their environment for bedbugs.
What Are the Signs?
Bedbugs don’t live on you or your dog. The bugs attach themselves to skin, pierce the skin, and suck blood for several minutes. Then they detach and scurry back to their hiding places. You may occasionally see a bed bug on your dog if it’s become tangled in the fur.
If bedbugs are biting your dog, they’re living in its bed, on its toys, or in its doghouse. You might see a few blood spots if your dog rolled over on a bug. More likely, you’ll see dark spots that smear when you try to clean them. That’s bed bug feces. Bedbugs shed their exoskeletons, so you might find those anywhere your dog sleeps. You might also find eggs on surfaces.
Your dog may or may not have welts or lesions if bitten. It’s important that you eliminate the possibility of a tick or flea infestation when you see a bite. You’ll find those bugs living on your dog, and the treatment for them is significantly different from what it is for bedbugs on dogs.
Bed Bug Bites Can Be Serious: How to prevent them?
Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to bedbug bites. The itching causes them to scratch constantly. Some dogs will lose patches of hair. Others may develop rashes or blisters. Without relief, dogs can become anxious. For many dogs, the incessant scratching irritates their skin, and they’re at risk for an infection.
You can prevent bed bugs from infesting your dog by keeping bugs out of your home. Bedbugs are travelers. It’s not unusual for them to take up residence in motels and hotels because they easily crawl into luggage. You need to check the premises for bed bugs anytime you stay away from home.
Other places where bedbugs are commonly found include:
- Nursing homes
- Private residences
- Seats in public transport
Bed bugs live wherever humans spend time.
Even if you don’t find evidence of bedbugs, it’s wise to take precautions with your possessions. One of the best tips is to place your luggage on a plastic sheet rather than on motel beds. The same precautions apply to your dog’s bed and toys.
When you’re ready to leave, inspect everything that belongs to your dog that same way you inspect your belongings for bugs hiding in them.
If you think there are bedbugs, you might take your dog to a groomer before returning home. If bugs are tangled in the fur, that should remove them. This article explains how to get rid of bed bugs in a car.
Bedbugs have a distinctive odor. Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and have long been successfully trained to recognize odors. Numerous trainers are now working with dogs to teach them to find bedbugs.
They’ve discovered that dogs are able to find even one bed bug. That allows people to eliminate their bed bug problem in the very earliest stages of infestation.
How Do I Get Rid Them on My Dog?
Flea or tick sprays have no effect on bedbugs on dogs. The bugs will be in the dog’s bedding, toys, or doghouse, and those are what you need to treat. All you can do for your pets is treat the itching if they’re scratching enough to irritate their skin.
High heat is fatal to bedbugs. If the dog bed and toys are washable, throw them in your washer with hot water, then in a hot dryer. If they aren’t washable, just put them in your clothes dryer. Set the dryer at the highest temperature and leave everything in it for at least 30 minutes.
The Hotter, The Better
Dryer temperatures of around 120 degrees F will kill immature and adult bedbugs. The temperature must exceed 140 degrees F to kill the eggs. If the eggs aren’t destroyed, then you’ll need to continue heating everything until they’ve all hatched. Be sure to clean the lint screen afterward. Put whatever accumulated on the screen in a plastic bag, seal the bag, and dispose of it outdoors.
The heat treatment will kill a bedbug infestation in your clothing and bedding. However, if there are bed bugs in one place, they’re likely hiding in many places. You may need to use insecticides or pesticides to eradicate them. Keep in mind that these products are poisons and can’t be used where children or pets play or sleep.
What Is an Effective Treatment?
Food Grade DE is effective against bedbugs. DE is made from the fossilized remains of tiny silicon-based sea creatures. Silicon is a desiccant. DE feels like fine powder, but the silicon in it is very sharp. It pierces the outer shell of bed bugs and kills them by drying them out.
Food Grade DE is generally regarded as safe by the FDA, but it must be used carefully. It’s dusty and can cause respiratory distress in humans and animals. If you use DE on your pet’s bedding, let the dust settle before allowing the animal near it. It can take several days for DE to kill all the bugs.
Do not use pool grade DE.
Brands that are available online or retail outlets include:
- Bonide Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer (Powder).
- Concern Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer (Powder).
- Harris Bed Bug Killer (Dust).
- Purefect Pet Diatomaceous Earth (Powder).
- Safer Bed Bug Killer (Granules).
Although the DE in these and similar products is safe for pets, you must read the label to ensure that toxic ingredients haven’t been added.
Top 3 Products
As previously noted, the bedbugs live where your dog lives, not on the animal itself. Effective ways of killing bed bugs on dogs require treating the dog’s bed and toys. You need to avoid using pesticides or insecticides that contain poisons such as pyrethrins or pyrethroids.
Three products that are labeled as safe for pets are:
- EcoSmart Bed Bug Spray – Active Ingredients: 3.0% 2-Phenethyl Propionate, 1.5% Peppermint Oil, 1.5% Rosemary Oil.
- RestAssure Bed Bug Spray – EPA Exempt Proprietary Formula.
- SayBuyBugs Bed Bug Spray – Active Ingredients: 3% Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, 1% Sodium Chloride, 0.2% Citric Acid.
You can purchase these online or from retail stores.
Although considered safe, use all products carefully. Spray a small area first to make sure your pet doesn’t react negatively to any of the ingredients. You’ll probably have the most success using sprays in conjunction with heat treatment.
The Best Way
The best way to get rid of bedbugs on your pets is to completely eradicate all bedbugs in your home. There’s more information here on how to prevent bed bugs from entering your home.
The bedbugs on your pets aren’t as harmful to them as other pests are. Bedbugs don’t usually transmit diseases. The biggest problem is repugnance at the thought of something sucking your blood, or the blood of your pets, while you’re asleep. The most harm comes from scratching the bites.
Bed bugs on your pets usually means your home is infested with bed bugs. Depending on how extensive the infestation is, you may need to call an exterminator. Make sure that anyone who treats your home is aware of the fact that you have pets. Some pesticides have residual action that can poison animals that come into contact with it.
Search and Destroy
If your pets play with the pets of others or in public places, inspect them closely before letting them back inside. You may find bugs caught in the fur or hiding in collars. If you notice your pet scratching and don’t find bugs on it, then search bedding and plush toys for evidence of bed bugs. Killing the bugs at the first sign of invasion prevents them from taking over your home and your pets.
It requires diligence and vigilance to keep hitchhiking bed bugs from invading your home and biting your pets. Getting rid of bed bugs on dogs is a challenge because you need to avoid harming the animal. The least toxic, and most effective, remedy is heat.