Will bedbugs bite my pets?

A reader e-mailed in this question:

"Can a bed bug bite my dog? She sleeps on the bed with me and is always scratching, and I have found bed bugs in the bed."


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Yes - if they can't get at you, bedbugs will go after anything that is warm-blooded. That means dogs and cats, too. If you've got pets, you need to clear out the area where they sleep, too. Do they have a pet bed? If so, it could easily be infested, and so could any furniture nearby. You'll want to check for any of the common signs of bed bugs (blood spots, casings, bodies, etc.) anywhere your pet usually naps. Pet beds can usually be cleaned pretty easily because you can often stick them in the washer. The heat from the wash/dry cycle, not to mention the detergent, will be enough to kill any bed bugs inside. You should also make sure to check out your pet's toys! Do you have a scratching post? A plush toy? Pet furniture? A pet crate? Any of those can be a good hiding place, and should be cleaned thoroughly. Be careful transporting your pets, too - moving them out of your house could carry bed bugs with them.

One thing to note is that they generally prefer to feed off of humans. You don't have any fur, which makes it easier for them to get at a place to bite. But if you do something that cuts yourself off as a food source (treating your bed, etc.) they will go after your pets if needed.

A final related warning - bed bugs will also feed off of mice or rats. So if you've got an infestation of one, you've got a food source for the other.

Do flea medicines like Frontline, Advantage, etc. do anything about bed bugs?

Unfortunately, no - the chemicals aren't really effective on a bed bug and don't do much for the pet. If your pet is being bitten, the best bet is to wash them thoroughly and use an insect control product based on pyrethrin such as this shampoo. Just be careful if you have a cat - there are some similar products out there that can't be used on cats.

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