My Dog Has Fleas and Sleeps in My Bed
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Allowing our dog to sleep in our bed is a privilege. They are wonderfully and affectionate animals that can enjoy nothing more than snuggling up to us while we get our rest. Unfortunately, they are also inquisitive and often energetic animals that love to explore. Their investigations can lead them to less than sanitary conditions and they can be vulnerable to external parasites such as fleas. Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are two of the most common external parasites in dogs, despite their animal-specific names. They survive by biting the skin and feeding off the blood of their hosts, not a positive proposition if we share our bed with an infested dog.
At AnimalWised, we look at what happens when my dog has fleas and sleeps in my bed. After we discover what repercussions this may have for us, we also find out how to prevent them.
Can I get fleas if my dog sleeps in my bed?
Fleas are ectoparasites, meaning they infest the outside of the host's body. They are also generalists as they can infest various types of host, even if they are of a different species. Unfortunately, humans are no exception.
In their adult stage, fleas parasitize our pets by jumping onto their skin. During this stage of their biological life cycle, they remain on their host by feeding on their blood. They then lay eggs that are deposited on the skin before falling to the ground. When the environmental conditions are optimal, the eggs hatch and enter three stages of development known as their instar stages. They feed on organic matter as they do so, but do not bite hosts.
At the end of their development, the larvae form a pupa. Within the pupa, the parasite undergoes a complete metamorphosis until it reaches its adult stage. They perceive the presence of a potential host by CO2 levels, vibrations or temperature changes. The adult flea then parasitizes the new host and the cycle is repeated.
Are fleas from dogs transmitted to humans?
When we share our environment with companion animals, we are vulnerable to various types of health risks. For example, a dog licking our face can introduce bacteria which can cause gastrointestinal issues and even introduce parasites. External parasites are a health problem to which we are particularly vulnerable. Parasitic contagion can happen if we are sitting on a couch with an infested dog, but we are particularly susceptible in bed.
When we are in bed we are usually in a relative state of undress and vulnerability. This gives the fleas access to our skin. This is compounded by the fact we spend long hours in bed, giving fleas ample opportunity to bite our skin and feed on our blood. In terms of diseases dogs can spread to humans, parasitosis by fleas can occur in one of two ways:
- By the direct passage of adult fleas from dog to person.
- By access of the host to the breeding sites where the immature stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) develop.
We can conclude that dog fleas can be transmitted to humans. Moreover, when a dog shares our bed, the close contact and prolonged period together makes a transference of flea infestation highly likely.
Signs of fleas in your bed
If a dog has fleas, letting them sleep in your bed is a likely cause of transmitting the parasite to us. As we explain in more detail below, we will need to clean our bed if we see our dog has fleas. This is regardless if we have seen signs of fleas in the bed. However, if we want to know there are fleas from a dog in our bed, we need to look for the following signs:
- Scratching: if we wake up in the morning or even during the night because we are scratching, it might be due to parasites. These can include bed bugs and other mites, but it can also be from fleas our dog has transmitted when in our bed.
- Bites: if we see little discoloration of the skin around a bump, it might be a flea bite. This can also have a little hale around in the inflamed piece of skin. It is unlikely we will only have one, but the more flea bites we have, the greater the infestation.
- Fleas: a surefire way to know you have fleas in your bed is if you see them. Although very small insects, fleas are still visible to the naked eye. We can see small brown or black dots moving along the bed sheets. Take a magnifying glass and look at them more closely to confirm the presence of fleas.
- Flea feces: we can see the flea dirt excreted by fleas, even if we do not see the fleas themselves. Since the flea feeds on the host's blood, flea feces has the dark appearance of digested blood. Fleas can poop even when they are feeding since they ingest more blood than they need.
What if my dog has fleas and sleeps with me?
If your dog suffers from a flea infestation, it is most likely that your home is contaminated by their immature presentations (eggs, larvae and pupae). Fleas have a high degree of adaptation. For this reason, these parasites develop inside homes during any season of the year. This is especially so if they find suitably protected spaces such as carpets, carpeted floors, upholstery, bedding, etc.
Female fleas lay an average of 20 eggs daily. When environmental conditions are optimal, the development time from egg to adult is only 14 days. In just 2 weeks, new generations of fleas begin to appear with the capacity to infest animals and their guardians again.
This situation entails a certain risk. In addition to producing irritating bites, fleas are also vectors of different infectious diseases. These can include bubonic plague and cat scratch fever (bartonella), among many others. If your dog has fleas and sleeps with you in the same bed, you can contract some of the diseases that these parasites transmit.
Whenever a flea infestation is detected or suspected in the home, it is important to act quickly and diligently. The sooner the situation is addressed, the easier and faster it will be to put an end to the problem and the potential risk. If you want to know how to proceed in these cases, continue reading the following section in which we explain what you need to do if you share a bed with a dog that has fleas.
What do I do if my dog has fleas and sleeps in my bed?
Unlike internal parasites in dogs, fleas are relatively easy to detect. We can see them as dark spots on the dog's skin, although this will be more difficult to detect in dogs with long and/or dark fur. The first symptom you notice in a dog with fleas is the animal scratching themselves repeatedly. This is due to the irritation flea bites cause on the dog's skin. Once you have discovered your dog has fleas, it is best to go to a veterinarian and never allow a dog with fleas into your bed.
It is vital we know that treatment of fleas requires an integrated approach. We not only need to treat the dog with fleas, but any other animals or persons on their environment. For effective flea treatment, we need to take two fundamental actions:
- Antiparasitic treatment of all animals that live in the same home: we need to treat not only the animal with clinical signs, but all the animals with which they live. Treatments should usually be combined with adulticidal (kills adult fleas) and IGR (insect growth regulator) antiparasitic drugs that both kill the flea and prevent the development of eggs and larvae. These treatments should be prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Environmental elimination: although the immature stages cannot infest hosts directly, they must be eliminated from the environment. Especially if the dog has been in our bed, treating the animal alone will likely still cause infestation. We need to direct our attention to areas the dog spends most of their time resting, such as the couch, their own bed and our beds. Any textiles with which the dog has come in contact should be washed at temperatures above 40 ºC/104 ºF. We also need to clean carpets and rugs since the dog will have rested on them. This requires vacuuming with suitable carpet cleaner. You can buy specialized carpet cleaner with parasitical insecticide for this purpose.
If you have adopted a dog, preventive flea treatment is essential. This is especially the case if we allow our dog to share our bed with us. A preventive deworming schedule for dogs is necessary as it stops common parasites from infesting our dog, including fleas. Flea treatments for dogs are most effective in the form of pipettes, but flea collars and other deworming products are also available.
Each dog will have their specific deworming needs. We need to speak to our veterinarian to determine what they are, as well as establish a vaccination schedule to prevent certain diseases, including those which can be transmitted by fleas. These vary according to geographical location and other factors which will be assessed by the vet.
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 My Dog Has Fleas and Sleeps in My Bed, we recommend you visit our De-worming category.