When people first begin to realize that they may have a bed bug infestation, one of their first impulses may be to regard their pets as responsible. Although it is possible that there is some connection between pets and bed bugs, it is by no means guaranteed that there is any relationship there at all. Pets do carry pests (fleas and ticks are the biggest candidate here), but bed bugs?
Perhaps pets are a natural thought for bed bug victims to have since cats, dogs, and many other furred pets are in fact known to be hosts to some of the more common insect pests. We all know that ticks, lice, fleas, and even mites can live and thrive on our pets, so it only stands to reason that bed bugs could do the same thing.
What is reasonable and what is true, however, are often two very different things. Bed bugs, in fact, do not take up residence in your pet’s fur or skin. Instead, bed bugs like to lurk in nooks and crannies of non-organic objects such as furniture, mattresses, the corners of drawers, and even picture frames. In fact, virtually any object with cracks in it could become a host for bed bugs. This begs the question: Why are they then called bed bugs?
These pests are commonly called bed bugs because they are often most prevalent in our mattresses. This is not necessarily because a mattress itself provides a better nesting ground. Rather, it is the frequency with which humans are in contact with mattresses that probably dictates bed bugs’ preferences. By lurking along the cracks of mattresses, bed bugs can be fairly confident that a meal will come to them on a regular basis – they will not have to seek one out.
So Then, Are My Pets Completely Exonerated? Not exactly. It is true that bed bugs do not prefer to live on pets, but they can sometimes be found there nonetheless. In most cases, the bed bugs will transfer to an object as soon as they find one that suits them, but this means that for limited spans of times, they might be present on pets.
This is particularly important in one situation. While bed bugs will not usually live long-term on a pet, they will, in fact, be willing to use a pet as transportation to reach a new infestation site. This means that your pet may unwittingly be the source of an infestation, bringing bed bugs into your home where they will take up residence in beds and couches, among other locations.
Even this scenario is not the most common one, however. Bed bugs usually enter a new home by catching a ride on furniture or luggage. Traveling to where bed bugs are prevalent can mean bringing them home in or on your suitcase, and purchasing an upholstered chair second-hand can mean getting bed bugs right along with the furniture.
In most cases, bed bug infestations are not related to pets.
If you find you have an infestation, however, it will do no harm to examine your pet closely to make sure that your home will not be re-infested from that source. But it’s unlikely that your pest will carry them.