Home Dog Care Can Bed Bugs Travel on Dogs?

Can Bed Bugs Travel on Dogs?

Can Bed Bugs Travel on Dogs - Here's What to Know

In the past few years, there has been more talk about bed bugs than ever before. The main reason for this was the bed bug epidemic that hit New York in 2010. Since then, people are taking extra precautions to prevent bed bug infestations in their homes.

However, many dog owners don’t know whether dogs can get bed bugs, can bed bugs travel on dogs into their pet owners' homes and whether animals can effectively spread them. The short answer is that it's very unlikely that dogs will spread bed bugs, but there's more to that, so let’s talk about bed bugs and what they do.

What Are Bed Bugs?

These pests are tiny, oval, brown insects. They are parasites that, like ticks, live off the blood of humans and animals. Adult bed bugs are as big as an apple seed and have a flat body. However, they become reddish in color and their bodies swell up after they feed.

This is what a bed bug looks like up close:

What a bed bug looks like picture

Bedbugs don’t fly, but they are extremely fast. The biggest problem about bed bug infestation comes from the fact that one female can lay hundreds of eggs, which is why they spread so quickly.

Bedbugs are mostly a nuisance and they cause bites; they are not known for spreading diseases, unlike their blood-sucking relatives such as mosquitoes, fleas and ticks. However, they are still a problem because they bite people and can cause itching and welts, similar to those caused by mosquito bites.

These insects got their name thanks to their preferred hiding place, which is anyplace around the human bed. They hide in mattresses, headboards, box springs and bed frames so they can have easy access to bite people while they sleep.

Can Bed Bugs Travel on Dogs?

Dogs, or any other pets and animals, do not usually spread bed bugs. It's because bed bugs, unlike fleas, don’t infest their hosts; they simply live around them and feed on their blood. Once they eat, they go back to their hiding places. They rarely “travel” on hosts.

That said, it's worth noting that dogs can carry bed bugs but that scenario is not very likely, especially since bed bugs are active at night when your dog is most probably sleeping. Another reason why this is unlikely comes from the fact that bed bugs prefer human blood and hairless skin – they are not that great at moving through hair and fur.

Bed bugs can bite your dog just as they can bite you, and they can infest dog's bedding just like yours, but they don’t infest their bodies. In fact, humans are the main culprit when it comes to spreading bed bugs since they are mostly spread from one place to another in luggage and clothes.

Life cycle of bed bugs

How to Prevent Bed Bugs?

  • Use a protective cover for mattresses and box springs since that are main hiding spots for bed bugs.
  • Keep your house clean and without clutter to reduce the number of possible hiding places for bed bugs. Vacuum frequently to pick up any potential bed bugs.
  • Check any secondhand furniture for bed bugs before you bring it home.
  • If you use shared laundry facilities, transport your items in a plastic bag and remove your items from the dryer directly into your beg.
  • Anytime you travel, check your luggage when you get back home.

How to Treat Bed Bugs?

If your home has already been infested with bed bugs, prepare for a real fight. Bed bugs are very hard to eradicate because it takes only a few to create infestation and they are great at hiding since they are so small.

The first step is to locate their hiding places. Seventy percent of all bed bug infestations are located around the bed, so that is a good place to start. Once you locate a hiding place, vacuuming and chemical treatments are the best ways to get rid of bed bugs. When you use chemicals, keep your dog away from that area for at least 6-24 hours.

However, there are many other options available and probably the best course of action is to get help from professionals. Call your local pest control if you are unable to deal with the infestation on your own.

READ NEXT: Can Humans Get Worms from Dogs?


Rachael is a writer living in Los Angeles and an alum of UNC Chapel Hill. She has been a pet owner since the age of three and began dog-walking in 2015. Her nine-year-old Pug and best pal, Ellie, is the queen of sassy faces, marathon naps, and begging.