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Bed bugs can get into homes via your pets

June 21, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
As summer arrives, some people are heading out and even taking their pets along for a little fun on the road. But one unwanted souvenir they don't want to bring back: bed bugs.

Charlotte Reed loves to travel with her dog, but she worries about exposing her pet to bed bugs when they're on the road.

"My dog sleeps in the bed with me. Just like I'm exposed to bed bugs at night in the bed, so is she," said Reed.

Jeffery White, a research entomologist at BedBug Central, says that's a valid concern. In fact, a recent survey found that 67 percent of pest management companies have treated bed bugs in hotel rooms. White says all pets - such as dogs, cats, birds or guinea pigs - are fair game.

"Any pet, for instance, could be a food source for a bed bug," said White.

While bed bugs don't tend to live on pets long-term - like fleas and ticks - that doesn't mean your pet can't bring them home.

"Pets can transport bed bugs. Just mechanically, the bed bug hitches a ride on your pet and gets into your house," said Kimberly May , a veterinarian.

Or, more commonly, they can snuggle up in your pet's bedding.

"Their carrier could have a bed bug inside of it, and that's how you introduce bed bugs into your home," said White.

May suggests also checking your pets' bedding and soft toys. Experts say to thoroughly inspect your hotel room for bugs before you bring your pet through the door.

"One of the most common areas that you want to inspect when you stay in a hotel room is either the headboard, where bed bugs will typically hide or the bottom of the box-spring," said White.

Consider leaving your pets' bedding in the bathroom, where there will be less chance of bugs. You may also want to treat the carrier with a "pet safe" bed bug repellent spray.

Finally, when you get home, take a look at your pets bedding.

"Immediately launder it in the hottest water that you can. If there are any rips or holes in it, you want to discard it," said May.

While nothing can absolutely guarantee to keep the bed bugs away, experts say these steps can drastically cut down the risk.


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