Unfortunately, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) can come from various sources, and dealing with these persistent critters when you have dogs can be difficult because you don’t want to use harmful chemicals. It’s also common to wonder if they bite your dogs like they do humans and if they live on them like fleas and ticks. The good news is that bed bugs don’t like your pets as much as they like humans, but keep reading for the details on how to tell if your dog is getting bit and what you can do to eliminate bed bugs without harming your dog.
What Are the Signs I Have Bed Bugs in My Home?
You will usually see signs of bed bugs before you see the bugs themselves. Clear exoskeletons are one of the first signs, and you will usually find these on the mattress before you make the bed. You may also see black or rusty-colored spots, which are bug droppings. Live bugs are a reddish color and tend to hide when the lights come on in box springs, bed frames, curtain rods, and wallpaper.
How Do I Know If Bed Bugs Are Biting My Dog?
Bed bugs prefer to bite humans, but if the population grows large enough, they might begin feeding on dogs and other animals, including cats, rabbits, and birds. When a bed bug bites a human, it leaves a red bump, and the bumps often form a straight line. You will see similar marks on your dog if you move the fur out of the way so you can see the skin. The good news is that bed bugs will not live on your pet like fleas and will quickly leave after they feed.
How Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
A bed bug infestation can be extremely difficult to get rid of and will take a while. We recommend calling a professional exterminator, but there are a few steps that you can take to keep the population under control while you are waiting for your appointment.
1. Close Off the Room
While bed bugs can and will spread throughout your home, 70% of the population will remain close to the bed. Close the door to the bedrooms, and don’t let your pets inside.
2. Put the Bedding in the Laundry
Bed bugs die quickly in hot temperatures, so running a cycle in the wash is effective in reducing the population in your home. Many people try to turn up the heat in their house, but you can’t reach high enough temperatures this way and will only waste heating fuel. Washing the clothes and sheets in hot water (minimum 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and drying them in a dryer can be an effective way to kill the bugs.
A household dryer is effective for killing bed bugs, including eggs, in approximately 30 minutes. However you can only place in the dryer certain items, so we still recommend you to get an exterminator to treat your home.
3. Use Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a powdery substance that is extremely absorbent. It’s made up of fossilized algae, and it will slice into the bed bug and dehydrate it. We recommend sprinkling it around your bed and leaving it for several hours or even days before vacuuming it up. The downside to using diatomaceous earth is that the dust can cause respiratory issues for you and your dog, so make sure you wear a mask while spreading it and keep your dog out of the area.
4. Use Chemical Spray
There are dog-safe chemical sprays available, but you will still need to read the label carefully before using it around your pet. Follow the instructions so your dog doesn’t ingest any harmful chemicals. Other brands may require your family and/or pets to leave the house for several days, so you may need to find a dog sitter if you choose this option.
If you have bed bugs, the good news is that they won’t live on your pet like fleas. If you can eliminate them from your home, they will be gone from your pet too. Unfortunately, getting rid of bed bugs can be extremely difficult, and we recommend calling a professional. The steps listed here may reduce the population significantly, but it will still be a huge undertaking to eliminate them all yourself.
Featured Image Credit: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock