Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. April 26, 2023
Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?

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When it comes to pesky critters that invade our homes and disrupt our peaceful nights, bed bugs are often at the top of the list. These blood-sucking parasites, scientifically known as Cimex lectularius, have become a common household concern. While we humans are well aware of the nuisance and discomfort caused by their bites, have you ever wondered if our dogs are also susceptible to bed bug infestations?

In this AnimalWised article, we delve into the topic of bed bug bites in dogs, the signs, and symptoms as well as the potential risks and complications.

You may also be interested in: Do Beg Bugs Bite Cats?


  1. Can dogs become infested with bed bugs?
  2. How can you tell if your dog has bed bugs?
  3. What should I do if my dog is bitten by a bed bug?
  4. How to treat bed bugs in dogs?

Can dogs become infested with bed bugs?

Yes, dogs can indeed get bed bugs. While bed bugs are primarily associated with humans, they are opportunistic parasites and can infest other animals as well, including dogs. These blood-sucking insects are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide, which are emitted by both humans and animals during sleep. This makes dogs susceptible to bed bug bites, particularly if they share the same living space as humans affected by an infestation.

Cimex lectularius, specifically, is a nocturnal insect that seeks shelter during the day and feeds on its hosts at night, unlike ticks that attach to dogs for extended periods. The feeding process usually lasts between 5 and 10 minutes, after which the bed bug detaches and returns to its hiding place.

While dogs may be bitten by bed bugs, it's important to note that dogs are not a preferred or ideal host for these parasites. Their abundant hair and tougher skin make it more challenging for bed bugs to successfully bite and feed on dogs. Nonetheless, in severe infestations, bed bugs may resort to biting dogs if other food sources are scarce.

If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by bed bugs, it is crucial to take prompt action. In the following sections, we will explore the signs and symptoms of bed bug bites in dogs, discuss the potential risks and complications, and provide guidance on appropriate treatment options.

If you're interested in learning about the distinctions among the most prevalent pet pests, don't miss our informative article that delves into the key differences between bed bugs, ticks, and fleas.

How can you tell if your dog has bed bugs?

When bed bugs bite, they inject saliva with anesthetic and anticoagulant properties, making the bites generally painless. The symptoms of bed bug bites in dogs can vary from one individual to another. Some dogs may show mild symptoms, while others may have more noticeable reactions. Here are some common signs that may indicate bed bug bites in dogs:

  • Itching and irritation: bed bug bites typically cause itching and irritation in dogs. You may notice your dog scratching, biting, or licking the affected areas excessively.

  • Redness and swelling: bed bug bites can cause redness and localized swelling on the dog's skin. The affected area may appear inflamed and slightly raised.

  • Skin lesions: bed bug bites may result in small, raised bumps or welts on the dog's skin. These lesions can be clustered together or appear as individual bite marks.

  • Hair Loss or bald patches: in some cases, severe scratching and irritation from bed bug bites can lead to hair loss or the formation of bald patches on the dog's skin.

  • Restlessness and discomfort: dogs experiencing bed bug bites may exhibit restlessness, discomfort, or signs of agitation. They may have difficulty sleeping or constantly move and change positions.

  • Secondary skin infections: intense scratching and self-inflicted wounds from bed bug bites can create openings in the skin, making dogs more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections.

These skin lesions often appear in distinct patterns, such as groups or lines, indicating multiple feeding attempts by the same bed bug on the host.

It's important to note that these symptoms may also be indicative of other skin conditions or allergies. Therefore, it is essential to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis if you suspect your dog has been bitten by bed bugs. The veterinarian can evaluate the symptoms, perform necessary tests if required, and recommend appropriate treatment options to alleviate your dog's discomfort.

You might be interested in this other article, where we discuss what to do if your dog has fleas and sleeps in your bed.

Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs? - How can you tell if your dog has bed bugs?

What should I do if my dog is bitten by a bed bug?

If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a bed bug, it's important to take appropriate steps to alleviate their discomfort and prevent further infestation. Here's what you can do:

  • Consult a veterinarian: if your dog has been bitten and is showing signs of discomfort or skin irritation, consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and guidance. The vet can assess the severity of the bites and recommend appropriate treatment options.

  • Relieve itching and irritation: to alleviate your dog's itching and discomfort, your veterinarian may suggest using topical treatments such as soothing ointments or sprays specifically designed for dogs. Do not use any over-the-counter medications without veterinary advice, as some human products can be harmful to dogs.

  • Prevent self-inflicted injuries: to prevent your dog from exacerbating the irritation or causing self-inflicted wounds through excessive scratching, the veterinarian may recommend the use of an Elizabethan collar (cone) or other suitable methods of preventing access to the affected areas.

  • Monitor for secondary infections: keep an eye on the bitten areas for any signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, discharge, or a foul odor. If you notice these signs, promptly consult your veterinarian for appropriate treatment.

  • Maintain good hygiene: regularly bathe and groom your dog to maintain their skin health and cleanliness. However, avoid excessive bathing, as it can dry out their skin and potentially worsen itching.

Addressing the underlying bed bug infestation in your home is crucial to prevent future bites and safeguard both your dog and yourself from further exposure. However, eliminating bed bugs can be a daunting task.

While home remedies and DIY methods are commonly attempted, they are generally ineffective and can even exacerbate the infestation by facilitating its spread. Therefore, it is vital to engage professional pest control services as soon as you detect or suspect a bed bug infestation.

By collaborating with a professional pest control service, you can ensure the effective elimination of bed bugs and significantly reduce the risk of reinfestation. These experts possess the knowledge, experience, and proper tools to tackle bed bug infestations effectively, providing you with the peace of mind that the problem is being addressed in the most efficient manner.

Discovering the reasons behind your dog's irritated skin is essential for their well-being. Don't miss our comprehensive article, where we delve into various factors that can contribute to skin irritation in dogs.

Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs? - What should I do if my dog is bitten by a bed bug?

How to treat bed bugs in dogs?

When it comes to treating bed bugs in dogs, a comprehensive approach is necessary. This involves tackling both the infestation on the dog and the underlying infestation in the home.

There are two medications that have shown effectiveness in controlling bed bug infestations: ivermectin and fluralaner. However, it is important to emphasize that these medications should only be administered under the guidance and prescription of a veterinary professional. They have specific dosages and usage instructions that need to be followed for the safety and well-being of your dog.

In some cases, your veterinarian may also prescribe antipruritic medications to help alleviate itching and provide relief for your dog. These medications may include antihistamines or other suitable options to manage the symptoms associated with bed bug bites.

In addition to veterinary treatment, implementing preventive measures is essential. Maintaining a clean and hygienic living environment, regularly inspecting your dog's bedding and resting areas, and promptly addressing any signs of infestation can help minimize the risk of bed bug bites and infestations.

We invite you to explore our comprehensive article on the topic of removing fleas from dogs. Within this informative piece, you will find valuable insights and expert guidance on effective methods to eradicate fleas from your canine companions.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.

  • Vector Control Technical Unit. Madrid Cheers. Bed bugs. Introduction and biology of Cimex spp.
  • Vector Control Technical Unit. Madrid Cheers. Bed bugs. Infestation prevention and control

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Can Dogs Carry Bed Bugs?