As a pet owner you need to be able to distinguish which of these parasites your pet has been infested with. Itching is the first symptom for both but in order to administer the right treatment it helps to know what you are actually dealing with.
Scratching causes the area where the bite took place to be infected and that only causes more itching. Some dogs and people are hyper sensitive to flea saliva, which has antigens that pets or humans are susceptible to.
In extreme cases or if the flea infestation is deal with an animal can actually damage its own skin from all that scratching. Some dogs even take to biting in an effort to relieve themselves. The infected area can develop into red painful sores. This is commonly seen on dogs at the base of their tails.
The condition can progress to a pimply sores, inflammation and hair loss. If the infestation continues unchecked the skin can become thicker and dark mostly along the back and base of the animal’s tail. At this point the animal is in pure agony.
Bed Bug Bites
Bed Bugs also feed on blood to survive. They aren’t commonly found on dogs or cats but they will move there if they cannot find a human host. On dogs and cats bed bug bites can cause irritating pink welts.
They cause itching and in some cases allergic reaction. When animals suffer from a bed bug infestation they may cause blisters, rashes and hair loss.
Unlike fleas bed bugs prefer cool temperatures and are unlikely to live long on an animal with hair that’s meant to keep the animal warm, which means that they will hop onto the next warm blooded creature.
Spotting the difference
It can be difficult to spot the difference between flea bites and bed bug bites especially since animals and people might react differently to either one.
To simplify the difference without going into the anatomy of a flea and a bed bug; flea bites look like small dots clustered together whilst bed bugs are red, hard and a bit swollen like mosquito bite.
Bed bugs can be found anywhere whilst flea bites prefer the legs and ankles. Fleas bite all the time bed bugs bite periodically but they both itch like mad.
The rashes from flea and bed bug bites aren’t contagious. They are also not known to transfer disease like ticks do but you need to deal with infestations as quickly as possible and prevent them from coming back again.
(Bed bug bites on the left. Flea bites on the right.)
Prevention is always better than finding a cure but fleas and bugs are opportunistic bugs so they will latch on to a host without warning. To prevent flea and bed bug infestations you need to bathe your pet especially if it has come into contact with other dogs or cats. Good hygiene is the best way to keep your pet healthy.
You should keep your home clean to by vacuuming as often as possible. There are a lot of flea prevention products like collars, shampoos and pills. Use them if you never want to have to deal with a flea or a bed bug problem.
A great way to get rid of both fleas and bed bugs is Diatomaceous earth. Its a powder that kills both fleas and bed bugs when breathed in. It also can kill other pest such as tick. If your bed bug situation is really bad I recommend using a flea steamer.
If your pet develops a habit of scratching itself, get a flea comb and go through the fur. You might not find them because they move so quickly but sometimes they leave traces of their droppings behind them. Look at where your dog sleeps for little flea eggs.
Remember, bed bugs prefer human blood, so if your dog has a bed bug problem you should know that those bugs are simply waiting for a human victim. If the infestation is serious, call a professional to deal with it as soon as possible.