Home Bed Bugs Can Bed Bugs live on or Bite Dogs & Cats (Pets)?

Can Bed Bugs live on or Bite Dogs & Cats (Pets)?

If you have experienced a bed bug infestation, you may want to find out if the bed bugs have attacked your pets.

This piece explains how dogs and cats relate with bed bugs, that is, if bed bugs live on their bodies, if the bugs bite them, and how the pets can actually be used to control bed bug infestations.

In addition, find ways of eliminating these crawling insects from the pets and also the prevention measures.

Do bed bugs bite dogs and Cats?

Bed bugs feed on pets like dogs and cats but only when no human victim is around. This is because, bed bugs are found to prefer feeding on human blood as compared to that of pets. These pests find the carbon dioxide released by human beings more attractive.

Bed Bugs live on or Bite Dogs & Cats
A dog and a cat

Apart from that, pets’ skin is covered in fur which as a result gives bed bugs a hard time before they can crawl and feed.

When people are away from home and the bed bugs need to feed, they look for the nearest pet to suck blood. Human beings are also considered easy targets by the bed bugs since their body is not covered in fur like most pets, as mentioned above.

Bed bugs bite pets in most cases after extermination. The bed bugs that survive the extermination hide in places that are hard to reach and when they show up, they are extremely hungry and they reach for your pet and bite it.[1]

How can pets get bed bugs

There are so many ways through which your pets get bed bugs. To begin with, if you travel with your pet frequently, it is likely to get bed bugs from any of the places you get to.

photo bed  bug
Bed bug

For instance, if you sleep in a hotel with your pet, it will most probably get the bed bugs. Most hotel rooms are reported to be infested with bed bugs.

The pet can also get bed bugs from your neighbors’ apartments should they be infested. Pets can also get bed bugs from other pets. If a bed bug falls off the body of one pet, it can easily crawl into the body of the next pet.

In addition to that, if you like sleeping next to your pet, it is likely to get bed bugs from your bed or mattress should your bedroom be infested.

Can Cats and dogs carry bed bugs

You may want to think that your pets carry bed bugs to your house but that is hardly the case. Bed bugs prefer a fur-free environment.

Most pets are covered in fur and bed bugs find it very difficult to maneuver through the fur. Bed bugs do not spend so much time on the pet’s body after feeding since that would never be a preference for making a home for them.

On rare occasions, however, the bed bugs are carried from outside to your house by the pets. This will most likely be the case where the pet gets into the house when the bed bugs are still feeding. This means that, you cannot rule out the possibility of your pet having brought bed bugs to your house.

Can cats sense & Kill bed bugs

Do cats detect & kill bed bugs?

Since bed bugs have become resistant to most pesticides, research is being done on better methods of identifying and getting rid of bed bugs. Bed bugs’ odor is very distinct and most animals can detect it.

A newly done research in the University of Washington has identified one of the bed bug control methods to be training cats to not only to hunt but also kill bed bugs.

raining the first batch of cats on how to hunt for bed bugs took some time but was very successful. The research found that, when trained, cats use their very good sense of smell to detect the presence of bed bugs.

After training, the cats would detect bed bug odor then using their paws, the cats would smash the bed bugs.

Most cats that were trained turned out to be fierce bed bug hunters and killers. You can get your cat trained if you need to detect presence of bed bugs as soon as they get to your apartment.

Dogs have a very strong sense of smell and therefore there are dogs that can be used to detect the presence of bed bugs. These dogs are referred to as bed bug sniffing dogs

A 2008-study carried out in the University of Florida to determine how effective sniffing dogs were at detecting bed bugs showed that 97.5% of the responses were positive.

From the study, it was clear that, if trained properly, bed bug sniffing dogs would do a great work in notifying you of the presence of bed bugs.

The dogs trace both live bed bugs and bed bug eggs. You will find them most useful in the case where you suspect a bed bug infestation but have not found any signs that the bed bugs are actually present.

How to get rid and prevent bed bugs on Pets

As much as it is uncommon for pets to be infested with bed bugs, they are still exposed to the rare bed bug attacks. Bed bugs cause irritation on the skin of your pets and hence a lot of discomfort.

Due to that, therefore, you need to find ways of removing bed bugs from your pets as soon as you spot them. Below are steps followed in removing bed bugs from your pets;

Step 1: Clean your pet.

In most cases, bed bugs will bite the pet then after feeding; they will go back to their hiding place. This means that very few bed bugs will be found hiding in the pet’s fur. Remember bed bugs like hiding in places that are rarely touched or moved and pets are always moving.

You will be required to take your pet far away from your home so that you can clean him. You are advised to cut any excess fur that is likely to be a hiding place for the bed bugs. The cleaning involves using a gentle brush to clean the pet all over the body so that any bed bugs that are hidden may be exposed.

Step 2: Bathe your pet

After grooming (cleaning) your pet, you will need to bathe him. Get an anti-parasite shampoo to bathe the pet. These types of shampoos are designed to specially to kill parasites such as the bed bugs.

Bathing pest can help eliminate bed bugs
Pet bath

You are advised to do this in an open place and in a large basin.  Using the shampoo, wash your pet thoroughly. Ensure you reach for the areas around the pet’s eyes, ears, and mouth.

Step 3: Clean your pet’s items

Chances are that, if you found bed bugs on your pet, most of its items are hiding places for the bed bugs. You are required to ensure that all the products of the pet are bed-bug free if you are to be confident that your pet will not face the bed bug infestation any time soon.  Below are ways to eliminate bed bugs from the pet’s items;

  • Vacuum the carpets, mattresses, or bedding where your pets rest. After vacuuming all the mentioned items, dispose the vacuum bug.
  • To get rid of bed bugs from your pet’s bedding, you can use rubbing alcohol. Spray all the bedding, toys and other items around where the pet stays with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol kills bed bugs and their eggs on contact by drying them. The bed bug eggs are very tiny and you will need to be very thorough when checking out to find them. A dish brush used together with the alcohol will make getting rid of the eggs easier.
  • You can also get rid of bed bugs from the pet’s bedding and the area it stays by steaming. You are required to place the steamer on the areas where the pet stays ensuring the bedding, the walls, corners and holes in that place are well covered.
  • Heat or freeze the pet’s items. You can simply wrap the items such as bedding and toys of the pet into a clean plastic bag then place outside where it is fully exposed to direct sunlight. This should be done for several days for excellent results.
  • Where the sun is not hot enough to kill the bed bugs, you can place the items in the plastic bag then place it in your freezer. The freezer should be set below freezing temperature and the items should be left there for about two weeks. Where the pet’s items are highly infested with bed bugs, you could just burn them and dispose them then possibly get a replacement.

Tips to protect pets from bed bugs

Below are some of the ways to prevent your pet from being attacked by pets;

  • From time to time, you are advised to brush through your pet’s fur to check if there are any bites that may look like bed bug bites. It is also a way of exposing live bed bugs that are hiding in the pet’s fur way before the infestation becomes severe.
  • Wash your pet frequently to keep its fur clean. Washing the pet gets rid of any hidden bed bugs that you may not even be aware of.
  • Inspect the pet’s resting place frequently to ensure it is comfortable and no bed bugs have infested the items. You should wash the items regularly, especially the bedding and toys.
  • If you travel with your pets, always inspect them on coming back from your trip. Wash them thoroughly before taking them to their resting place.

Further Reading


[1] https://pethelpful.com/misc/Bedbugs-and-Cats