Bed Bugs on Pets

While humans are preferred, bed bugs have been known to feed on pets.

Bed bugs have a long history of feeding on warm-blooded mammals such as humans. Bed bugs on pets can be a serious concern as well. While bed bugs prefer humans, perhaps due to the body temperature, chemical makeup, and opportunity, bed bugs will feed on pets.

Studies have shown that bed bugs will readily feed on animals with limited fur. That is, the bed bug does not navigate well in fur. Perhaps as hair is sensitive to foreign objects, the bed bugs are too easily discovered as their flat bodies push hair aside. Bed bugs will feed readily and undetected on areas of animals which have no fur. The hosts can include rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats.

Studies conducted in the early 1900’s observed bed bugs feeding on domestic animals such as pets, but also on cows and other large animals if there were places of minimal hair or fur. Bed bugs will readily feed on birds if there is access to open skin for feeding. Infested homes sometimes can be traced to infested pet areas and rabbits are particularly well known for hosting bed bugs.

Cold- blooded pets such as snakes and lizards might not escape hosting bed bugs. Studies have shown that bed bugs, if hungry, will feed on just about any animal with blood. Research has been conducted that showed that snakes, lizards, and geckos have hosted bed bugs. While the nutritional makeup of the blood might not be ideal for bed bugs, these insects are opportunistic and will feed on even these cold- blooded animals.

If a pet is injured and leaves a blood trail due to a scratch, it is unlikely that bed bugs will feed on the blood that is dropped. This might be because the blood naturally clots hindering the ability of the bed bug to draw the blood through their sucking mouthparts. Moreover, since they are used to feeding by piercing skin, it is possible that bed bugs do not recognized clotted blood drops as a potential food source.

Owners should examine their pets for bed bugs when they check for fleas and ticks. If bed bugs are found, the area where the pet lives should be inspected for signs of infestation.