Can bedbugs bite your pets?

With major chains of clothing stores closing in NYC due to bedbug infestations, we started thinking about how and if bedbugs can effect pets.  Here is a Q and A of the basics.

Can bedbugs bite your pet?

Q: I found bedbugs in my bed and my dog and cat sleep on the bed.  Do I need to be concerned that they could be bitten?

A: Bedbugs are looking for food, whether it’s you or your pets, it doesn’t matter to them.  Humans are easy targets because they are not covered in fur.  But pets can be bitten as well including dogs, cats, mice and rats.

Q: What do I need to do for my pet if he is infested with bedbugs?

A: Contact your veterinarian to find out what shampoo you should use to kill the bedbugs on your pet. A dog shampoo for bedbugs may be harmful if used on a cat.  Most likely, your pet will be bitten at night, and then the bedbugs will go and hide during the day while they digest the blood. So during the day, you may not clearly see the bugs, but you will see the bite marks on your pet and your pet will be scratching the bites.

Q: What else should I do if I find the bugs on my pet?

A: Wash your pet’s bedding, toys and anything plush he comes in contact with.  Look for tell tale signs of the bugs, such as blood spots and casings to determine if the area is infested.

Q: What kills bedbugs?

A: Bedbugs will die in heat of 120 degrees Fahrenheit if they are exposed for 10-20 minutes.  The dryer is a good source of this heat.  Items that can’t be laundered can be wrapped in plastic and placed outside all day on a sunny day.  Cold will also kill bedbugs, but the temperature below 32 degrees must be maintained for several days.  Some pest control services use steam or freezing followed by immediate vacuuming, however if the bugs are hiding deep in crevasses, they may be missed.

Q: Can my dog catch bedbugs from other dogs that are playing in the dog park?

A: Since the bugs feed at night and hide during the day, you may not see actual bedbugs on your dog during the day. However, it is possible that some might be hiding in dog fur and fall onto another dog during play.

Q: I use topical flea and tick treatments such as Frontline on my pet.  Does this help prevent my pet from getting bedbugs?

A: Unfortunately, no.  Bedbugs do not feel the effects of topical monthly flea and tick applications the same way a flea or tick would.

By the way, we suggest laundering all newly purchased people and pet clothing and bedding prior to hanging it in the closet or using it to decrease you chances of bringing unwanted critters into the house.

Here is some detailed information about bedbugs from the University of Kentucky.  Warning…the pictures are not for the faint of heart.

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Posted by on Oct 21 2010. Filed under Animal Reality, Cat News, Dog News, Lessons Learned, Pet Health, Pet News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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