Bed bugs are back with a vengeance and over the last few years, they have literally been an epidemic in the United States. Apparently, bed bugs are stowing away in luggage, travelling on pets and other channels to enter the homes of unsuspecting people. Tenants and landlords are also warring over bed bugs in rented units. These nasty blood suckers are not only harassing humans, they are even troubling our pets. Naturally, most pet owners wish to know whether bed bugs can affect their pets.
In this guide, we will consider various questions related to pets and bed bugs:
- Can bed bugs bite my cat or dog?
Bed bugs need blood meals to grow and reproduce. So, in addition to biting your family members, they can even feed on your dog or cat. In many cases, pet owners have reported bed bugs crawling on their pet’s body. While this is rather unusual, some have definitely seen tell tale bite marks on their dog or cat. However; the fact remains that bed bug bite marks are rather difficult to distinguish and often resemble mosquito bites or flea and tick bites. Also, not all animals produce these signs and symptoms of bed bug bites; only ones those are allergic to them. Pet owners must therefore keep an eye out for debris left behind by bed bugs such as molten skin, rust colored stains and an obnoxious odor in or around the pet’s bedding.
- Can dogs sniff out bed bugs?
Yes, there are many bed bug sniffing or detecting dogs and several pest control companies implement them. In fact, these animals are being considered another tool in the bed bug detection arsenal. However, some experts believe that dogs are not 100% reliable in sniffing bed bugs out. Therefore, it is essential to combine bed bug sniffing dogs with trained and experienced professionals as this increases one’s chances of finding and eliminating bed bugs completely. Often, bed bugs are detected by bed bug sniffer dogs only when these trained animals are able to access the hidden areas. However, bed bugs are rather good at hiding and therefore, many times; the sniffer dogs are unable to locate them.If you are seeking professional bed bug sniffing dogs, ensure that their handler has been certified by the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association.
- Do bed bugs carry other parasites like fleas and ticks which could harm my pet?
If there is any positive news for people dealing with bed bug infestations, it is that they do not carry diseases. Also, unlike fleas, mites and ticks, bed bugs DO NOT live ON pets. They prefer to hide in cracks and crevices near sleeping areas and come outside only at night to feed. That being said; they are still a source of irritation and can cause great deal of mental and physical distress to pets and their owners.
- Can I use pesticides which treat and eliminate fleas and ticks to keep bed bugs away?
It is best to use bed specific products to eliminate bed bugs. If the label of a particular pesticide does not include bed bugs on it, then it probably means that it is ineffective for these critters. Not only is this a huge waste of money and time, it can also harm your environment, particularly your pets. So, use only EPA approved products and talk to a professional pest exterminator regarding the right products to use.
- Finally, how should I eliminate bed bugs whilst having pets in my home?
If you have arranged for professional bed bug treatment for your home, it is best to keep the pets away for the duration of the treatment. Even in case of DIY bed bug elimination, make sure you use vet approved products and keep the pet outdoors, where possible. You must also wash and launder the bedding used for pets in very hot water to eliminate bed bugs, larvae and eggs hiding in it. If some materials are not washable, put them in the dryer on the highest heat setting for at least 20 minutes. This will kill the bugs and their eggs. If you plan on trashing the infested pet bedding, make sure you enclose the items in a bag and mark them as infested.