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Can Your Pet Get Bed Bugs?

2014 Update – While media hype has died down in recent months, bed bugs (and more importantly the impact of bed bugs on your pets) still appear to be a very common issue. One report from the National Pest Management Association found “99.6 percent of respondents encountered bed bug infestations in the past year and that infestations have increased in the majority of locations in which pest professionals typically treat for bed bugs.”

According to the report, private residential settings, hotels and motels continue to lead the way in bed bug infestations. The good news is that our advice and recommendations to keep your dogs and pets safe still hold true today. When staying in a pet friendly hotel double check the mattress, the box spring, and your bags and luggage for bed bugs. If you notice your pets scratching or you see bed bug bites, it is time for a massive cleaning and a long tumble in the clothes dryer. Twenty to thirty minutes should kill any bugs and the eggs they lay.

For more information, continue reading our Q and A on how your dogs can get bed bugs and how to get rid of those pesky parasites.

Recently we spent the weekend in New York City and learned about the serious concerns over bed bugs. So, last week when we read this post on TPPC.tv‘s blog we wanted to share it with you. Your pet’s welfare is your biggest concern, and we want to help you keep them safe. Thanks to Robin and Joseph for allowing us to re-blog the article here!

With major chains of clothing stores closing in NYC due to bed bug infestations, we started thinking about how and if bed bugs can affect pets.  Here is a Q and A of the basics.

Q: I found bed bugs in my bed, and my dog and cat sleep on the bed.  Do I need to be concerned that they could be bitten?

A: Bed bugs are looking for food, whether it’s you or your pets, it doesn’t matter to them.  Humans are easy targets because they are not covered in fur, but pets can be bitten too –  including dogs, cats, mice, birds, and rats.

Q: What do I need to do for my pet if I find bed bugs on him?

A: Contact your veterinarian to find out what shampoo you should use to kill the bed bugs on your pet. A dog shampoo for bed bugs may be harmful if used on a cat.  Most likely, your pet will be bitten at night, and then the bed bugs will go and hide during the day while they digest the blood. So during the day, you may not clearly see the bugs, but you will see the bite marks and your pet will be scratching the bites.

Q: What else should I do if I find bed bugs on my pet or in his bedding?

A: Wash your pet’s bedding, toys and anything plush he comes in contact with.  Look for tell tale signs of the bugs, such as fecal stains that will not flake off and will smear if wiped with a damp cloth, to determine if an area is infested.

Q: What kills bed bugs?

A: Bed bugs will die in heat of 120 degrees Fahrenheit if they are exposed for 10-20 minutes.  The dryer is a good source of this heat.  Items that can’t be laundered can be wrapped in clear plastic and placed outside all day on a hot, sunny day.  Cold will also kill bed bugs, but a temperature below 32 degrees must be maintained for several days.  Some pest control services use steam or freezing followed by immediate vacuuming, however if the bugs are hiding deep in crevasses they may be missed.

Q: Can my dog catch bed bugs from other dogs that are playing in the dog park?

A: Since bugs feed at night and hide during the day, you would likely not be able to tell if a dog is infested simply by looking at them. However, in rare cases, bed bugs could be hiding in a dog’s fur and fall onto another dog during play.

Q: I use topical flea and tick treatments such as Frontline on my pet.  Does this help prevent my pet from getting bed bugs?

A: Unfortunately, no.  Bed bugs are not affected by topical monthly flea and tick applications.

Laundering all people and pet clothing and bedding that has been used on a trip or is newly purchased prior to putting it away will decrease your chances of bringing unwanted critters into your home.

Here is some detailed information about bed bugs from the University of Kentucky.  Warning … these pictures may give you the creepy-crawlies.

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