Your pets are a beloved part of your family. If you have bed bugs you might be worried that the pests will also plague your pet. While bed bugs prefer human blood, it is possible that they will target your pet if hungry.
Pet Bedding and Bed Bugs
Bed bugs will not live in the fur of your animals, but they do love the cozy confines of their bed. The creases, curves, and folds of their bed are an ideal hiding spot, shielding the bed bugs from the light and keep them warm when your pet lies on top.
Bed Bugs Are Opportunists
As mentioned, the bed bug prefers human blood, but the insect is also an opportunist. When hungry, your pet's blood might suffice as a quick meal. If this is the case, you will find tiny red bumps on your pets’ belly or limbs that you should be able to feel with your fingertips. The bite lesions are likely to be in a straight line or a cluster formation. The dog or cat may chew or scratch the bites causing a rash to appear and fur to shed.
Rule Out Other Causes
If your animal is scratching excessively you should eliminate other potential reasons first, including:
- Pet dandruff
Diagnose the Cause of the Itch
Your veterinarian can perform a diagnostic test such as skin scrapes or a biopsy of the lesions to determine the exact ailment. Treatment will depend on the cause of the discomfort. It’s important to remember that bed bugs are an environmental problem and do not actually live on your pet. They are not parasitic like fleas, mites, or mange.
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Finding the Bed Bugs
If these common pet problems are ruled out it may be time to put on your Sherlock Holmes cap and start looking for clues around your home to determine if you have bed bugs. Inspect your pets bedding and blankets looking closely for the following:
- Blood Spots: If a bed bug bites your pet, the wound might bleed before coagulating. You might notice large blood stains on their bed cushions or material.
- Fecal Spotting: Tiny red spots can indicate the fecal matter of bed bugs. The spots look like flecks and are not exceptionally large, so they are hard to detect if the pet bed is not made of light-colored material.
- Bed Bug Eggs: Bed bug eggs are ridiculously small and pearly in color. They look like tiny spots that often appear in rows. You might need a magnifying glass to see the eggs clearly.
- Exoskeletons: The exoskeletons of the bed bug are translucent shells that are the exact size and shape as the bed bug. The nymph sheds its skin (known as an exoskeleton) as it grows and enters the various life stages.
- Live Bed Bugs: Some people have a challenging time differentiating bed bugs from fleas. The bed bug is small and flat and reddish brown in color. Many people say that it looks like an apple seed. However, the best way to tell the difference between a flea and bed bug without a microscope is to remember that fleas jump, and bed bugs run. If you smack the cushion, blanket, or carpet fleas will jump up, maybe even to your ankles for a quick snack, but the bed bug will run for cover. The bed bug automatically seeks out a dark place to hide from detection.
What to Do If You Find Bed Bugs
What happens if you find bed bugs on your pet’s bedding? As a pet owner, you might be tempted to rush out and buy a bug bomb. Bug bombs work on fleas so why not bed bugs? Bed bugs are tough and hard to kill. They have become genetically immune to many common pesticides. You are going to need to seek out a spray that is tailor-made for killing bed bugs and shown to work. You can also call an exterminator for steam or heat treatments to effectively annihilate the colony. The treatment method that you choose should depend on the size of the infestation. A large and prosperous colony might be harder to eradicate as a DIY project.
What to Do on Treatment Day
Always take the time to read the label of the pesticide sprays that you choose to determine if they are safe to use around your pets. Some sprays require that you leave the house for a few hours after treatment in which case you should also take your pets. If you are having a professional exterminator treat your home, they will go over the process with you and advise you if your pet must be removed from the premises. Following these simple steps will help keep your furry friends happy and safe from bed bugs.
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