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Bed Bugs vs Dogs: Can Bed Bugs Infest Your Furry Friend?



If you’re a dog owner, one question might constantly tickle your mind – can bed bugs live on dogs? The quick and simple answer is, not likely. While bed bugs are the horror story for any homeowner, hotel owner, or, quite frankly, anyone who likes a peaceful sleep, they don’t seem to have the same affinity for your dear pooch. Quite generous of them, don’t you think?

“Whilst bed bugs are not specific to humans, they prefer feeding on us than our four-legged friends,” explains Jake, a prominent entomologist.

However, that does not necessarily mean that Fido is completely off the hook. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on your canine companion under certain circumstances. Let’s paw-nder on this a bit, shall we?

Bed Bugs vs Dogs

What are Bed Bugs?

what exactly bed bugs are. Bed bugs, also scientifically known as Cimex lectularius, are pesky little insects that are infamous for their blood-sucking capabilities. Nothing is more romantic or more “Twilight” than a bug that feeds on your blood; creepy isn’t it? But it’s not all love and roses for us or our beloved pets as they are mostly active at night and maintain a diet exclusively on blood.


Bed bugs, unlike public opinion, are not microscopic. They are about the size of an apple seed, and beats us why an innocent apple seed had to be the reference point for this blood-gulping pest! They are reddish-brown, have a flattened, oval body as if they have been doing some intense Pilates and they cannot fly. Not winning any beauty pageants, are they?


A perfectly ironic mockery of their name, bed bugs don’t just reside in beds. They can also be found in luggage, furniture, and even your shoes. When it comes to real estate choice, these critters are not picky!

The Bite

They say love bites, so do bed bugs! And their bites are seldom romantic.

Their bites often result in skin rashes, allergic symptoms, and could lead to psychological effects. Just the tenants every homeowner dreams of!

How they spread

Bed bugs are the hitchhikers of the insect world. They spread by latching onto clothes, luggage, furniture, or any other item that allows them to relocate from one feeding ground to another. Think Uber, but for bugs.

Bed Bugs and Dogs: A Troubled Relationship?


Let’s start at the top: What exactly are bed bugs? Bed bugs, small critters commonly mistaken for miniature cockroaches, are elusive parasites. You won’t likely spot them strutting down your hallway with the swagger of a matinee idol. They’re reddish-brown, about the size of an apple seed and they’ve got style with a flat, oval body shape. Of course, their “style” often involves popping out at the wee hours of the night in search of a snack. You guessed it, that “snack” often involves someone’s warm blood.


Looking to evict these unwelcome guests from your home? First, you need to understand where they reside. Unlike fleas, bed bugs are not fur-tastic critters. They don’t make a home in the lush, comfy fur of your pet pooch. Instead, these uninvited guests prefer setting up shop in locations like mattresses, sofas, upholstery—basically any place that offers them easy access to their favourite midnight snack: human blood.

While it’s true bed bugs might hitch a ride on Fido every so often, it’s a one-way trip. They don’t set up a permanent residence on dogs or any other pets for that matter. But remember, just because those doggone bed bugs don’t live on your dog, doesn’t mean they can’t cause an issue.

The Bite

The biting business… oh boy, it’s a nasty one. When bed bugs bite, it’s typically painless at first. Almost like a gentle kiss from your secret admirer, it’s subtle, yet prepares you for drama, itching and potential allergic reactions. No one really signs up for a bed bug bite, and yet these vampires of the insect world can’t seem to resist the siren call of a warm-blooded host.

On dogs, these bites may appear as small red bumps typically found on the belly or limbs and can cause intense itching. However, these annoying pests can’t transmit diseases to your dogs or to you. Small silver linings in an otherwise itch-filled cloud, we suppose.

How they spread

Now to the next burning question: how do they spread? Contrary to popular belief, filth has little to do with it. Bed bugs are not judgemental about the state of your housekeeping. They are world-class hitchhikers who can spread from place to place with ease.

From a neighbouring apartment through shared walls, hitching a ride in your luggage after a hotel stay or yes, occasionally holding on tight to Fido’s fur for a quick stroll in the park—they will find a way. “Persistence” should be their middle name. Yet again, dogs are not a primary transport for these buggers—more of an accidental Uber from time to time.

How did I get bed bugs?

an unexpected itch, and a lingering question – how did your home become the latest hot spot for bed bugs? It’s a mystery that would make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle reach for his detective hat. To help you solve this creep-crawlies conundrum, let’s start by setting the record straight: contrary to their name, bed bugs are not exclusive to your bed.


Bed bugs are tiny, brownish pests with flat, oval bodies. Think of a sesame seed with legs, and you’ve got the idea. When they haven’t had a blood meal, they’re about as flat as a credit card. However, after a feed, they’ll swell up like a miniature balloon. Not exactly the kind of guest you want at a dinner party!


‘Bed’ bugs does a wee bit of false advertising for these critters. They can just as well be called ‘crevices, clothing, luggage, or furniture’ bugs – doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as smoothly, admittedly. These worldly travelers aren’t picky about where they set up shop. Any small hole or crack is a potential abode, and they can commonly be found in mattresses, bed frames, headboards, couches, or luggage. As for dogs? Well, their fur is not their preferred residency, but they don’t mind catching a lift.

The Bite

Just like the audacious relatives who stay past their welcome during the holidays, bed bugs can’t resist your blood. They’re drawn to the scent of carbon dioxide that humans – and yes, dogs – emit when breathing out. However, they typically prefer the taste of human blood and will stick to biting us, unless they can’t find a human host. Don’t break out the confetti just yet, though; they do leave rather itchy bite marks, typically in a line or a cluster.

How they spread

Bed bugs are the real globe trotters. There’s no social distance with these travelers. They can hitch a ride on clothing, furniture, luggage, and even wheelchairs. Any place that’s frequented by humans is a potential launching pad for them. While they can’t technically live on dogs, they can use your furry friend as a travel buddy to reach new crevices and prey.

Residence revisited

Now, let’s speak more about residence. Though your pooch’s fur isn’t their ideal living place, let’s not discount it all together. After all, Beg bugs are opportunists. Your dog’s bedding, however, is an entirely different, ideal story – it’s bed bug paradise. It’s warm, close to their food source, and usually left undisturbed, just how they like it.

The Bite rechecked

Now, let’s reiterate the bite situation. Don’t worry, your fur baby is highly unlikely to be a menu item for these sneaky little bugs – you’re the main meal deal. Remember, if you notice mysterious bites on your dog, it’s potentially from another pest causing the kerfuffle, such as fleas or ticks. It’s always worth getting any unusual signs checked out by a vet.

How they spread revisited

As a parting note, remember these pests are quite the hitchhikers. Your dog can unintentionally become a bed bug Uber, especially if they hang out in infested areas. Regular cleaning and inspections of your pet’s bedding and any frequently used spaces can help keep the bug party from starting. Though remember, bed bugs are sneaky and there’s no surefire way to prevent them fully, much like those pushy holiday relatives we all know too well!

Christy Avery has worked as a veterinary technician for more than five years, caring for both domestic and exotic animals. She has received training as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and treat pet anxiety, fear, and stress.