Bed Bugs And Pets

With bed bugs sweeping across the nation, humans aren’t the only ones suffering  from these creepy little bugs.  Bed bugs bite pets as well as humans causing discomfort and skin irritation.  I want to emphasize that pets do not carry bed bugs so do not blame your dog, cat or other pet for infestations!  Bed bugs live their lives in dark secluded crevices.  When they get hungry, they crawl out from their protective lairs in search of a warm body for dinner.  They bite their victim for blood because it is high in protein.  After the meal, they crawl back to their home to let the food digest.

Since bed bugs do not live on humans or animals, you must look for them in the environment.  One telltale sign is blood spots on sheets or pillowcases.  Look at your pet’s bed as well.  Another sign is bed bug dirt (feces) which is similar to flea dirt.  The digested blood looks like small specs of pepper.  To differentiate between dirt and bed bug feces, place the dirt on a white paper towel and moisten with water.  Feces from bed bugs or fleas will turn red while dirt remains unchanged. 

If you suspect a bed bug infestation, I recommend using a professional pest control company to get rid of them.  Remember to tell them about pets so precautions are taken to protect your animals.  Birds with their air sac system used in respiration are extremely sensitive to pesticides.  To be safe, I recommend moving pets to a safe place for the treatment plus a few days afterwards while you air out the house.  Consider it “camp” for your pets while you deal with the bed bugs. 

For more information on bed bugs and pets click here  to go to an article discussing frequently asked questions regarding bed bugs and pets from the American Veterinary Medical Association .

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.